Women my age…
Not so long ago my husband was out cycling with a friend, and whilst chatting through whatever it is men in lycra on bikes chat about, they got to talking women their own age, to clarify in this case women north of 50. Much to the bafflement of my husband it transpired that his friend openly admitted that aside from his own wife he did not find women his own age attractive, by contrast if my husband found himself in the company of either Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore or Gillian Anderson or even better all three I’m confident I’d be left holding their coats & drinks and he would be a very happy man.
This idea of ‘women my age’ got me thinking and just a little perplexed, firstly what do women my age look like? And secondly why does a middle-aged man in lycra believe we are so collectively one thing? Unfortunately, my husband didn’t ask him what age women he did find appealing, in any case the sight of him reclaiming his distant youth on a bike would I’m sure see most women of any age preferring to seek out the company of a cat.
The striking thing is women my age have been dealing with this attitude our entire lives. As young women we were told being bullied by boys was a sign that they liked us, by this logic I must have been a child super model undiscovered. As teenage girls managing an array of changing bodies & hormones, we were already being conditioned to believe that emotional outbursts were unnecessary dramas, and to be careful about what attention we engaged, we were being told what size we should be & how high our breasts should sit, after all a training bra is just training us to be comfortable with discomfort, who knew breasts actually moved when not strapped in for the safety of all. We were told to embody our youth, make the most of this fleeting time because beyond 25 no one but especially men would be interested in us.
Some women my age raised children in their twenties and the decades beyond, their bodies bear the scars of these experiences. Some of us didn’t have children but found ourselves being carers in other parts of our lives. Some of us got married, many didn’t. Many of us got divorced, remarried and some gave up hope. Some women focussed on careers; many women realised the glass ceiling was actually reinforced Perspex not and shatterproof class. Many women had jobs without titles, less pay than their male counterparts and no recognition. Women my age have been volunteers, unpaid carers for loved ones including grandparents providing essential childcare and women have disproportionately held together the nursing, care, and early learning sectors again for little pay and even less regard.
Women my age have chosen to go grey, some of us are dedicated to our colour. Some freeze their faces, surgically interrupt the ageing process that will catch up with all of us in the end. Many are still battling food disorders and feel compelled to keep exercising even though energy levels expired about a decade earlier. And now even our Menopause has been commercialised and monetised, instead of a discussion on how to improve the health of women we are told that we should be proactively avoiding this time by any means our budget will facilitate. Could it be they just want an exhausted workforce of women my age to keep going, or am I just being hormonally irrational?
So here we are, women my age. Women with a story. Not looking or feeling like we did when we were 25. And the truth is, why would we? we are a tapestry of life experiences, each unique with our own lives. Hopefully we’ve learned not to listen to the voices that undermine us, our own or others who continually uninvited choose to share them with us. Because even if we are not wiser, we are older and infinitely wilder if we choose to be but the thing I’ve concluded most about women my age is that we are unlikely to find opinionated 50 something men in lycra attractive either aside from my husband of course that is ????