Redefining 40

A friend’s Facebook status recently complained about the unflattering lighting in a department store making the experience of bathing suit shopping even worse than normal. I agreed wholeheartedly with this status. However, the status also included the statement that “women over 40 have enough problems.” This touched a nerve for me as a woman over 40. I am not defined by my age and feel just as attractive now as I did in my twenties and have been told I am actually prettier now. I also work hard to stay in shape and not  let gravity take over.

Most women’s bodies are flawed whether or not they have reached 40 years old, and bathing suits accentuate all flaws: cellulite, varicose veins, extra flab, lack of curves, flat chest etc. it’s not mutually exclusive to the over 40 set. I feel like the addition of this statement by my friend helps perpetuate the belief that turning 40 is something to dread. Like a woman loses her appeal once she hits that age. If we are lucky, we are all going to age. But letting ourselves be defined by our age and how society expects us to look, using the excuse, “I’m over 40. Of course I’m out of shape”; “I can’t be sexy, I’m a mom over 40!”, can lead to a self-fulfilling prophesy where we become “old” when we say goodbye to our 30s. Instead, I propose we focus on some positives:

So our faces don’t have a youthful innocence, instead they have the sophistication and sexiness of a woman who knows where she’s been, who she is and where she’s going. And seriously, moisturizer, sun block and sometimes plain old good genes go a long way to keeping ones face from aging before its time. So does a youthful spirit and a great sense of humor!

So we don’t have the metabolism of a girl under 30 who might be able to eat anything she wants, not exercise, and not gain weight. We know the importance of eating healthy and exercising for health and maintaining our shape into our 50s and beyond. We know the importance of moisturizing our skin and limiting exposure to the sun to keep our skin as wrinkle free as possible.

We don’t get old as soon as we hit 40 nor must we look it. Yes, we might start to experience changes in our bodies but not necessarily at that age. Regardless, if we complain about being a certain age, we are inviting others to feel like we are somehow less than someone younger. If we embrace getting older without giving in to stereotypes associated with it, we will give our younger sisters something to look forward to. Perhaps “looking forward” is too optimistic, but at least we can give them less to fear/dread.

I choose to be a positive example of how 40 can look!

My 4th novel focuses on a single woman as she lives through the last year in her 30s. She’s concerned with the stigma associated with turning 40 and fearful that she will be seen differently at that age and that she will wake up matronly and dried up on her 40th birthday.  I’m excited to publish this novel because it portrays women of this age in a more positive, and in my experience, realistic light than many books out there. My character is youthful, attractive and fun loving, she hasn’t been married yet,  and she is inspired by me and my friends and every bit “real.” Although the book is about a 39 year old woman, the story is relatable to women of all ages – anyone who has wondered if she’s wasted time, if she’s where she hoped she’d be in life by a certain age, if her life is moving in the desired direction. The book won’t be published until late 2014 or early 2015 but if you are looking for a novel featuring a “young” 40 year old in the meantime, I recommend the following:

Thank You for Flying Air Zoe by Erik Atwell

What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin

What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard

Life’s a Beach by Claire Cook

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