When is it time to accept you’re middle aged?
When is it time to accept you’re middle aged?

When is it time to accept you’re middle aged?

SINCE I turned 40 a few years ago I've started noticing some unpleasant physical changes.

I've put on weight. My joints get stiff if I've stayed in one position too long. My eyesight has deteriorated, and I now wear glasses to read - all signs that I am officially middle aged.

I never thought this would happen to me. Not because I thought I would die young, but because I somehow believed I would always be young.

Look around you. How many older women do you see? In movies, on billboards, in fashion parades? We're obsessed with the image of eternal youth and so we erase any vision of what it is to age.

This is all fine and dandy, until you do what is inevitable and … age. Then what?

Where are the role models to show us more 'mature ladies' the way?Jane Evans is the founder of the Uninvisibility Project, a website that profiles older women. She started the publication to re-conjure women who disappear from public perspective once they turn 50.

Kylie Minogue happily owns the fact that she turned 50 last year. Picture: Instagram
Kylie Minogue happily owns the fact that she turned 50 last year. Picture: Instagram

The key, Ms Evans says, is being honest and open about your age.

"One of the reasons we become invisible is because no one will actually admit to being us," she explains.

"How on earth can we be role models for women coming up if we still pretend to be in our 40s?"

French blogger and author Mylene Desclaux (pictured below) does not believe women should own their age.

In her book Why French Women Feel Young at 50 she suggests that women should never disclose how old they really are.

"When youth is gone, another kind of beauty replaces it. Charm, elegance, kindness, culture, humour," Ms Desclaux says.

"So the best thing to do is accept it, because after all, it happens to everyone! Don't fixate on it, otherwise you risk being defined by your age.

"I always say after a certain age, don't talk about it."

The French best-selling author also says to stop celebrating birthdays and to never wear glasses in public.

This is not quite the path through the next decades I am seeking. It seems too much effort and I want to learn how to embrace my age, not deny it.

But where do you draw the line? When do you stop dying your hair? When is it counter-productive to erase your wrinkles with Botox? To hire that personal trainer and squat till your butt looks as young as your now-smooth face?

Ms Evans says you can't hide your age, even with Botox.

"They (women who use Botox) don't look any younger than me, they're just richer than me," she explains.

"If you could actually get comfortable with the wrinkles and with being in your own skin, the power that comes from that is incredible. How the world treats you is different too."

Ms Evans says that making older women visible again through the media - in advertising, films and fashion - will lay the path for younger women who will inevitably follow in their footsteps.

It's rare for me to be honest about what it's like to be an 'invisible' older woman today. I've wondered about it for some time, but I don't often find I'm in the company of women in this age bracket.

That changed recently when I was at a yoga retreat, having a cup of tea with some women over 60. It was enlightening and inspiring.

Here were women who were happy and proud to be 60.

One yogi, Sheryl, told me that what women my age aren't told is that it gets better.

"The world is trying to sell the idea that we (women over 50) want to look younger, but we don't. We're happy to be 60 and to look like we're 60."

The most powerful role models are the ones that are living right next to us, not the ones advertising agencies put up on our TV screens and billboards.

The exception to this is Tutti Bennett. The 70-year-old Australian grandmother was chosen to feature in a campaign titled Beauty Rewritten for global beauty superstore Sephora (pictured above). Tutti, it's fair to say, has never had a problem with being invisible.

"Too many ageing people are worried about how they look to other people," she says.

"But when you stop worrying and start living a life that has purpose to you, it can mean a lot.

"Be brave, take a leap, do something you've never done before, take a class or volunteer, let yourself go."

For Tutti, ageing is black and white.

"Be proud that you're alive, because the alternative has no future."

Shevonne Hunt is a freelance writer and host of the parenting podcast Feed Play Love