On May 5th, I will turn 49 years old.
So you betta believe that on May 6th, I’m going to be insufferably ecstatic until my 50th birthday in 2023. I’m already planning a Beyonce-concert-level celebration and signed up for private dance lessons to prepare for the big date.
I announced my excitement about this upcoming milestone on Facebook because I truly cannot wait to turn 50. Plenty of people chimed in, sharing their own stories of turning 50 and feeling fabulous.
And then there were a few stray, well-meaning comments like, “You’re only as young as you feel!” and “You don’t look 50!”
While I know the people making these statements don’t intend to cause harm, their sentiments are still rooted in the patriarchal belief that “younger is better.”
Unfortunately, as women, we are conditioned to worry about aging. When I was a kid, I remember watching my mother stand in front of a mirror, nitpicking at her appearance as she noticed her skin sagging or wrinkling. “You won’t understand until it happens to you,” she would say.
There’s a $50 billion anti-aging industry that profits off these thoughts. Advertisements urge us to scrutinize every inch of our body. Actresses’ are picked apart by the media while their male counterparts receive applause for growing “older and sexier.”
Women are celebrated when they “age gracefully,” which is an incredibly problematic term. There’s no such thing as aging “ungracefully.” We simply age.
When people say to “age gracefully” or “age well” or “don’t let yourself go,” they’re upholding a patriarchal view of beauty and youth.
For me? I don’t want to feel “young.” I want to feel vibrant. Passionate. Alive.
I don’t want to act “gracefully.” I want to ruffle feathers, make bold moves, get mouthy, and speak up when I witness injustice.
I don’t want to look “youthful.” I have earned my stripes. I want to look like a woman who knows her worth and owns the f*ck out of it.
Most importantly, I do not want my children (especially my daughter) to remember me as a woman who picks apart every inch of her body in the mirror. A woman who elevates the patriarchy. I want to show her that aging is an incredible gift.
We are fortunate enough to be alive right now, at whatever age we are.
Let’s celebrate that fact.
We are alive. Let’s BE alive.
Let’s choose thoughts & actions that make us feel empowered and joyful rather than adopting patriarchal beliefs that don’t serve us in any way.
Let’s floss away the negative thoughts around aging—thoughts that are self-critical, self-pitying, discouraging, defeatist, limiting, and stuck. Clear those away. Replace with thoughts that make you feel unstoppable.
Let’s stop watching the time tick away and truly start living. Fuel yourself. Put yourself first. Take bold action on your dreams. It’s not too late. The time to get what you want… is now.
I do not age gracefully. I age.
And I am delighted by it.
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