(originally posted 08/08 at wordpress)
by Emily Calkins
Mainstream culture has never been particularly kind to women, but once we hit that magic “middle age” number it gets even worse. We lose our value as an advertising commodity and that, in this society, is a real bummer (or do we still say that?).
I swore off the henna a little over a year ago. Being an organically oriented sort of person I never used chemical hair color, but I was looking for a new job at the time and figured my graying locks would reduce my odds. Falling for this is something I am not especially proud of, thinking about it in retrospect. Who was I kidding? I grew up in the 60s and 70s; “Hair” was often on my turntable; Gloria Steinem and Betty Freidan were in their heydays. I read “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in high school. There is no way I am going to hide that anymore.
Women do not have to conform to the prescribed role of middle-aged frump, any more than we should conform to any other kind of obedience. It’s almost like another type of rebellion, in a way. Our society revolves around fast everything, processed food, overwork, and materialism. All these things age us faster than just about anything else I can imagine. I take good care of myself because I want to be around when my grandchildren come along. Getting older is not about surrender; it is about staying vital, strong, healthy, and beautiful in whatever way fits us. It is about reading, writing, dancing, yoga, lifting weights, marching downtown for peace, and forgiving. Most of all, it is creating ourselves in this new “format,” whatever that happens to be.