I am a believer of Walter Pitkin’s quote life begins at 40. For me, the 40s marks a stage of life development, wherein any woman can look back and rejoice in the products of her labor as a parent, a homemaker, a spouse, a worker, a citizen, a friend, and most importantly, just by being her nurturing self. Middle age (40 to 54) paves to that great moment of self-validation, self-reflection, and self-awareness. This, however, is not the case for Juanita, the 41-year-old Gritty Grandma.
For Juanita (also known as Snow), life was stuck at 17. In fear of aging, she fancied herself of clothing she wore 24 years ago: clothes, which excessively showed off her midriff, butt, and/or cleavage. As a result, people perceived the Gritty Grandma as trashy and cheap, far and wide from being the ardent woman that she is to those who know her by heart. According to Juanita’s best friend and son, her choice of clothing attracted men who treated her poorly, and that fact concerned them.
Truth is, Juanita is not alone. While others’ fear of growing old does not manifest in inappropriate clothing, there are a number of middle-aged women who are haunted by the same fear. Anne E. Barret and Cheryl Robbins in The Multiple Sources of Women’s Aging Anxiety and their Relationship with Psychological Distress published in “Journal of Aging and Health” stated that the fear of losing that youthful attractiveness because of aging is common among middle-aged women. Many actually manifested the fear by “going under the knife.” According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), of the 13.1 million surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2010, the biggest chunk, which was at 48 percent (6 million), were done to middle-aged women.
Based on the information and statistics mentioned above, it can be concluded that the fear of aging is not exclusive to Juanita. It is a phenomenon that pervades the majority of women who hit 40. I, however, believe that the said fear can be utilized for the middle-aged women’s advantage. Fear, like any other cluster of emotions, is double-edged. It can be an agent of detriment, but can also be a means to positive change depending upon how it is handled. How then can middle-aged women make the fear of growing old work for them? Below is a list of ways, which can pave to the harvest of luscious fruits of fear of aging.
Fear and Physical Well-Being. The fear of aging should drive middle-aged women to look after their total physical welfare. It should be an offshoot for them to seek medical advice, to watch their diets, to subscribe to a daily exercise regimen, and to dress appropriately. Through the said activities, negative effects of aging can be minimized, and over-all health is maintained.
Fear and Priorities. The fear of aging should steer middle-aged women to plan, set priorities, delegate responsibilities, and decline certain opportunities if needed, so as to get those things with “priorities” labels done. Middle age is the period when it immensely sinks in to a woman that she does not have limitless amount of time to do the things she put to a halt when she was busy raising kids, or crawling up the corporate ladder. When a woman sets up priorities, she lives without regrets, which then stems a peaceful feeling that radiates in her physical appearance.
Fear and Evidence-based Information. The fear of aging should impel middle-aged women to seek training and information about aging. It is found that increased information on aging has a direct relationship with the lessening of fear. So, when a woman acquires evidence-based information from respective authorities, myths and negative assumptions about the process of aging are effectively debunked. From there, a woman can choose to celebrate aging rather than fear it.
As Jeannie Mae put it, the pursuit to look younger is desirable, but when it becomes excessive, to the point of being inappropriate, it does the opposite: it makes a woman look older physically but childlike mentally and emotionally. This has been the case for Juanita. She mishandled her fear and resorted to wearing excessively skin-baring clothes, which did more harm than help. Aging is there to stay, and it is only through handling it properly that women can get it work for them.
This article was originally published at Yahoo! TV. © 2011, Yahoo! Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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