Self Image

There have been some interesting developments recently in the way midlife women are being portrayed in the media, more of which in a moment. Firstly, I would like to ask you a question. When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, what do you see?

If I ask that question as a speaker, nervous laughter ensues. I once asked it on my Photography Facebook Business Page and the replies were both varied and fascinating.

Many say they see their mother, or grandmother staring back at them, which causes a mixture of alarm and comfort. There's something rather lovely in carrying our loved ones with us, isn't there? Some women tell me they never look at their own face in its entirety. If they are putting on lipstick, they look at their lips, if they are brushing their hair, they look at their hair and so on.

The Face it, Own it! project has thrown up some very interesting questions about self image. Some common themes, in addition to the above, have included sadness, disgust and acceptance. How do you feel about your appearance as you age? Come and join the conversation in the private Facebook Group

Now that we are talking more openly about menopause, mainstream magazines have started to jump on the bandwagon. Is this a good or a bad thing? How do you feel when you see images of Jennifer Aniston (50), Jennifer Lopez (51) and Shakira (43)?

There is no disputing that these talented women look fabulous, and I take my hat off to them all for the determination and effort they have expended to remain fit and strong. But I'm not sure that "empowerment" is what I feel when I see these images. Personally, I feel a little bit tired.

To me, one of the advantages of growing older is the passing of the pressure that we as women have always been subjected to, pressure to act and look a certain way. Is this what we are supposed to aspire to now? Eternal youthfulness and life-spent-in-the-gym (not to mention never let a carb pass your lips, and cake is evil) pressure?

Of course, it is up to each of us to decide how we want to look, how we want to age. But am I alone, when seeing these images that a small part of me thinks: leave us alone, for goodness sake! I've earned my elasticated waists!


Image credits, L-R: ©interviewmag, ©AP, ©Christopher Victorio/imageSPACE/REX

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