I am a 41-year-old woman who is proud of my age. I give no apology for being born in 1970 and I am looking forward to my future. However, these days it seems that I can’t escape the constant messages that I should be pining for the good ole’ days of youth.
According to most advertising messages I see, my body is withering away by the second. And it will require all the money in my 401k to repair the damage.
While running errands the other day, an ad came on the radio that began, “Women over 40 have weight gain due to a hormonal imbalance.” I was then told that it would be impossible to stay thin at my age unless I bought some type of medication that I am sure the FDA has never heard of.
The very next ad was for the radio station I was listening to, and it said, “Remember when music was the most important thing in your life?” Apparently, unbeknownst to me, the reason I had the station on was so I could remember when life was fun. Apparently now that I am older, I am not having fun anymore.
And when I turn on the TV or open certain magazines, I am bombarded by “Before” and “After” pictures of women who have had some procedure done that is touted to have made them look younger. They try to claim these women have wider eyes, disappearing double chins, or freakishly fewer wrinkles. The only difference I see is that they frowned in one picture without make-up and smiled in their other glamour shot.
But the media is not the only culprit. Often, I find myself talking to women who are older than me who love to begin their sentences with, “Oh, you just wait!” They explain that horrible things are about to start happening to my body when I reach their age.
I laugh and criticize these messages. But I know that women often buy into this hype and fear. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast lifts have increased 70 percent in the past decade. Butt lifts have increased 133 percent, tummy tucks 85 percent, thigh lifts 72 percent.
And it’s not just us old ladies that are listening. I overheard a young gay man recently discussing the therapy he is receiving for his body image issues. Why are we OK with a society that teaches everyone to hate themselves? Even more disturbing, do we even notice that we are being taught these sad messages?
Let me take this opportunity to remind you what being young was actually like for most of you. You were worried about what your parents thought about everything. In fact, you were still concerned about what everyone thought about you. No one listened to you or took you seriously.
You felt out of control in most situations. You had no professional experience to get you in the door of any company. You were broke. You needed bungee cords keep your car intact. If you had a relationship last more than 3 months it ended in a very dramatic fashion, often resulting in broken stuff and the occasional restraining order.
I have no desire to go back or try to relive those days.
So next time anyone tries to tell you that you are not good enough for simply being blessed with a long life, turn the channel. Close the magazine. End the conversation. You are fine just the way you are or look.
As Mark Twain once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Melissa Carter is former co-host of “The Bert Show” on Q100, where she broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in the city and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Keep up with her at www.melissatimes.com.