I am a woman. I am 51. It took a looooooong time for me to admit I was getting close to 50. Then, when I turned 50, I only told people I was “turning a big number.” Now that I’ve gone past that number, it doesn’t seem so scary. Maybe that’s because I know no one is going to mistake me for a younger woman.
When I was in my 20s, I was always mistaken for younger.
When I was in my 30s I was always mistaken for younger.
Now that I’m 51, no one mistakes me for younger. It sucks, but it’s life.
My best friend and I lament on a regular basis about being “frumpy, middle-aged women.” It’s disappointing, especially since we were always thinner, younger looking women. It’s like you hit some magical number and suddenly life as you know it just … changes.
A big part of this is the big M word….. Menopause.
Maybe it’s because my mother didn’t experience it like I did, but I didn’t really have much information about what was going to happen to me (and my body) when I went through “the change.” Let me tell you, younger ladies… it sucks. And there’s no pamphlet or video you automatically have to watch in school to let you know what to espect.
- You gain weight. Now, this may vary according to the woman, but many women gain weight, and it’s harder to lose it the older you are.
- You have hot flashes. No one can really prepare you for what they feel like. Suddenly, out-of-the-blue, you feel incredibly hot from the inside out. Sometimes you start sweating. Sometimes you turn red. Always you feel like someone’s turned the heat on HIGH, when everyone else is cold.
- Sometimes you sweat during the night and can’t get comfortable enough to sleep.
- Sometimes you have insomnia, or your insomnia gets worse.
- Your patience is very small. Similar to when you were going through PMS, only it’s almost all the time.
- The elasticity and firmness in your face and body start to fail. Every woman experiences it differently. I have ZERO crow’s feet, but my cheeks leave a LOT to be desired.
- Other, more intimate stuff happens that I’ll refrain from going into details about…
Now, every woman is different, that’s true. It depends on your genes, your lifestyle, and whether or not you’ve had kids, I think. But it’s something we all go through. If only there was a Judy Blume book about the subject…
Once I hit 50, I started to re-think how I dressed. Now, when I’m at work, teaching first grade, I dress like a teacher. I don’t have super fashionable clothes, but they do the job. For the last 15 years, when I’m not teaching, I could be found in jeans & t-shirts. I’m making a conscious effort to dress a little “better” these days, but what does it mean to “dress your age” at this stage? When I was a kid, this is what a 50 year old woman looked like:
30 years ago, 50-year-olds looked like grandmothers, and most of them probably were, to be honest. My own grandmothers got their titles in their 40s. In 2021, 50-year-olds in the public eye still look like supermodels. I can only assume that most 50-year-old men think THIS IS NORMAL, and their wives and girlfriends should use this for their standard. I hope not. The truth is, most 50-year-old women don’t have their own personal trainer or chef. Most 50-something women don’t have access to expensive beauty treatments to help keep them looking young.
Maybe I’m just making excuses for the fact that I don’t look like I used to when I was young. Maybe if I just stopped having carbs altogether. Maybe if I had the right moisturizer, or the right workout program, or the right eye cream. Except, I’ve tried so. many. things. And no matter what I try, I still don’t look like I did when I was in my 20s or 30s. And maybe I shouldn’t. I mean, it would be weird if I looked the same age forever. Or if I looked the same ages as my own daughters (at some point… they’re still teenagers).
The most effed up thing about all of this is that even though I look older and I don’t have the cute figure I once did, and I’ve got gray hair (now that I’m letting my own color grow out, I can see the grays that have been hiding), and I often feel random aches and pains and don’t have the energy I used to, INSIDE, SOMEHOW, I still feel young. Even though I’ve got a headache and I’m having hot flashes and my fingers are too swollen for my wedding ring, I somehow forget that I don’t look like this
and then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and am reminded that I’m not young. And that somehow, I’ve been married for 23 years and I’ve got 3 almost-adult children. I see the years on my face. My once flat stomach is carrying around quite a bit of extra weight.
I don’t want to dress like Mrs. Garrett or the Golden Girls, and yet I know I’m not J. Lo or Jennifer Aniston or Gwen Stefani. And so I find myself trying to thread the line of feeling young but being older. Of dressing in cute clothes, but not wearing what my teenage girls are wearing.
The great thing is that it’s 2021, and there are lots of options for me once I figure it out.
And if I can just stop sweating, I’m sure it’ll be at least a little easier.
If you’re a woman and you’re in the prime of your youth- enjoy! Enjoy what your body can do right now. Enjoy the energy you’ve got and the elasticity in your skin. Enjoy being cold all the time and sleeping well.
If you’re like me, and you’re going through something similar, I’m with you. You’re not alone. Hopefully, these symptoms won’t last forever, and at some point we can fully embrace our “older” selves and enjoy the wisdom we’ve gained from our years and find our value in society.