… you’re not 29 anymore… which isn’t to say that older women can’t be sexy. Jessica Lange, Helen Mirren, and lots of other women older than you still got it. And got it good. But our beauty- and youth-obsessed culture makes it hard for women to age gracefully and naturally. You must think about these things.
I saw the French icon Catherine Deneuve, who must be well into her 60s, last summer in Paris walking down Boulevard Saint-Germain, in all her glory and with a spring in her step. I think, in Europe, the culture embraces older women as still vital and sexy. There seems to be a tremendous amount of ageism, as well as a fixation on youth, in the U.S. I often talk with female friends my age about how it can feel like we have an expiration date embossed on our foreheads. A friend recently described the feeling as becoming invisible when we hit our 40s and 50s.
On the other hand, my mother, who has always been a strong role model for me, reminded me recently of what the great anthropologist Margaret Mead said — when women are able to shift focus away from starting families and child rearing, they experience what she calls a sort of creative “zest” in their 50s. It’s real. I’m finding it more and more. The challenge is not letting the cultural obsession get in the way of feeling confident or happy. Obsessing on trying to be something that you’re not is never good. You have to rack focus on what’s important and move forward. To be honest, I’m sort of relieved to be past the point of turning 50. I am really enjoying this time in my life.