I am 44 tomorrow. To mark it I decided to write a post about middle aged role models. I started to write but drew a blank. I could not think of a single middle age women who inspired me or who I admired. Where are they? Who are they? Where are the realistic middle aged role models for women?
Photo by Greg Raines
I thought of Helen Mirren. She is a strong, independent women. Not afraid to speak her mind and still enjoying a successful career. She is stylish and attractive. However she is also 72. She is perhaps the next step for us middle aged ladies. Someone to aspire to be as we age but not someone we can relate to at this precise moment in our lives.
At the other end of the spectrum you are spoilt for choice. The Kardashians of this world command a huge following. The cast of reality tv shows endorse products and lead trends. Beautiful, wealthy young women share their life on Instagram. However none of these women ‘speak’ to me. I want to mother them and tell them to put on a coat before they catch a chill.
Searching for an image to accompany this post was very telling. There were plenty of pictures of ladies who were obviously still in their 20s. Lots of pictures of women with heavily lined faces, obviously well past the first flush of youth. There was nothing in between. It appears to be socially acceptable to be a bright young thing or a fantastic older lady but during your middle age you vanish from society. Where are these women?
Why realistic middle aged role models for women?
I ask for realistic role models because it would be false to say that there are no middle age women in Hollywood and in the media. There are plenty but they are either in denial about their age or are not taken seriously.
The first category have had extensive surgery to retain their youthful looks. They look amazing but they don’t look like any genuine 40 something I have ever seen. I can totally understand why they do this in a bid to level the playing field with younger actresses and to continue to get interesting roles. However this alienates them from their peers. I cannot relate to someone whose face is frozen in time in a bid to look 20 years younger.
The second group of ladies are usually more realistic looking and good for them. However they end up being cast as the slightly overweight, funny best friend or being the butt of all the jokes. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see an middle aged woman with all her lines, lumps and bumps cast as a romantic lead?
What do I want to see?
I want to see women like me.
I want to see women who juggle family life and commitments.
Women with older children who suddenly find themselves with time to invest in their own well being.
Women with fantastic non-media based careers to inspire my girls.
Academic women pushing the boundaries.
I want to see people who are honest about the difficulties of having it all.
Women in clothes I would actually want to wear.
Honesty about the health issues that sadly affect us as we age.
Active women endorsing a lifestyle we can actually achieve
Mostly I want to see ladies who accept their age and embrace it.
I consider myself to still be in my prime but the media seems to have other ideas. Is it too much to ask that we should be allowed to be honest about our age. Have you noticed elderly people on tv who get a round of applause for saying their age? What is this limbo land between 40 and your 60s where we are expected to meekly blend into the background until you can finally admit your age and be celebrated for it?
Being over 40 is not a dirty little secret we have to hide away from. Let’s celebrate it.
Let’s share our stories and become each others role models.
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