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,...
So many women tell me they lost their confidence as they approached menopause. For some it's a sudden omg, stop in their tracks moment, often accompanied by a panic attack. For others it's a gradual wearing down, a slowly dawning realisation that everything they had been certain of before suddenly isn't so certain any more.
Sometimes, there seems to be no apparent reason for this loss of confidence. Anxiety, depression, a feeling of being lost can come out of nowhere. So what can cause this loss of confidence and what can we do we do to arrest it? How do we get our mojo back?
1. Physical appearance. Slowing metabolism often results in weight gain, especially around the middle. Facially, we lose collagen and start to notice a softening in the jawline, wrinkles, eye bags - if we feel we don't recognise ourselves in the mirror any more it can knock confidence.
One of the most insidious barriers to achieving the life we want to lead has to be self doubt. Can I do this? Do I have the skills, the confidence, the resilience - do I dare?
Self doubt has been my nemesis for as long as I can remember.
I have always been full of big ideas - creativity and "big picture" thinking comes naturally to me. My excitement and enthusiasm can sweep me away to the point where I can create, fund and organise a project and then - bam! - I am paralysed by self doubt. Progress from then on can be slow and painful as I am crippled by those unconscious thoughts of "not good enough" and "who do I think I am?"
Those old familial mantras from the 1960s: “People like us” don’t do great things. We should “know our place” and “let our betters” get on with running the world, writing our books, producing our plays, creating our art.
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing...
Why we should see them and why we should be them.
Do you remember who your female role models were as a girl? A relative, perhaps - maybe an aunt who you perceived as glamorous, or a teacher. An activist, a singer, an actress, even a politician?
How about as a young woman? Were female role models available to you then? Maybe your mother or grandmother (once past puberty and you shed the scales from your eyes ;-) )
Mark Thomas writes:
“Our happiness is very much based on our perception of how our life should or could be and the gap between that and how it is in reality.”
Therefore we are hard wired, if you like, to look for role models to inspire us to become the very best we can be.
I looked up to both my grandmothers. One raised me, the other simply loved me and their influence remains with me to this day.
As I approached middle age, I found myself seeking out new role models - women who shine in their fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and beyond. Women whose...
As women reach "middle age" (and really, that starts whenever they begin to feel they are no longer "young"), a common feeling seems to be that no one listens when they speak.
If you have a long term partner, particularly male, there is a theory that men actually learn to "tune out" their female partner's voice over time. How many of us have had the accusation of nagging thrown at us? With the response "if you listened the first time I wouldn't have to nag!" No, wait - that contradicts the "tuning out" theory, doesn't it, as if he knows we're repeating ourselves ("nagging") he did hear us in the first place...
Actually, there is evidence that when men start to lose their hearing, it is the upper register that they find difficult to interpret. Women's voices tend to naturally be higher, so it stands to reason that their long suffering partners bear the brunt of their deafness. According to a recent study, men are also 5.5 times more likely to suffer from hearing loss than women, and...