Sometimes when you think of your body and the way it changes throughout the course of life, you think of it as an inevitability instead of an adventure. It is time to change that way of thinking. You need to get out of the trap of comparison, competition and self-loathing and see these changes as what they are; an adventure that we all go on together.
The stages of life have been popularly described as a journey through the maiden, the mother and the crone. I do not particularly like these descriptions when it comes to how our bodies change. It seems more like the mountains, the foothills and the valleys. At least when describing the journey of our breasts! But there is more to the adventure than just the shifting position of one part of our bodies.
When we are young, we can dance all night and still move the next day. We don’t get hangovers, and our bodies often behave the way that we want them too. It is a time when just about any clothing is flattering and if we gain some pounds, they are easier to get rid of. Of course it’s not the exact same experience for every woman, but there is something about being young that makes it easier to look in the mirror. We are marketed to and made to feel valuable, that our opinion matters.
As you move into what I will call “early middle life” in the thirties and early forties, things begin to change. Perhaps you have become a mother. Perhaps you have picked up a few stubborn pounds. In any case, you wake one morning and notice that the adventure is different. Things on your body are not where they used to be, and there are things there that never used to be. Unless you are one of the lucky ones, you need to start exercising and watching what you eat in order to hold onto your younger figure. But why? Why not accept “early middle life” as uncharted waters? Exercise and eating right are great, for the right reasons. Trying to recapture something that may be out of reach is not one of them.
In “late middle life”, our bodies really begin to change. The dreaded cycle of life called menopause is lurking or has already occurred. Now your body starts to do all sorts of adventurous things! Lifestyle and hormonal changes cause us to gain weight more easily and the pounds distribute themselves in strange places. Our skin loses it’s precious elasticity and, if it has not already happened, we start to notice grey hairs. But don’t worry, this is a time when you are marketed to and made to feel valuable as well! Get plastic surgery. Take quick-fix weight loss pills. Color away the signs of age. But what if our bodies are having fun and don’t want to stay the same?
It is never easy to be on an adventure, but isn’t that the point? Easier said than done, I know. Women are given so many tools to combat the natural changes in our bodies and it is tempting to implement them all. But often this backfires. Think of the plastic surgery horror stories you have seen. It’s okay to consider the changes in your body and make an informed decision about what to do. But we can hold on to youth in all sorts of ways. The way that we look is just one of many.
And if we unify as women, our bodies might find the adventure to be more fun together.
by Cathy England
Allow your body to have fun! Don’t deny your body the adventure of growing older. You never know what you’ll discover about yourself.