Being a woman is the pits. Or it’s amazing. Or it’s however you’re feeling about it on any given day. Like anything, it’s full of light and shade and nuance. Lucky us!
One thing that gives me the everloving shits about being a woman – especially one who is well and truly into the middle-age category these days – is the idea we are supposed to age ‘gracefully’.
We are expected to stay looking reasonably fresh, while also never admitting to trying very hard. Maybe we stop dying our hair and let it go grey, so our friends can congratulate us for being ‘brave’ (not that it’s not – society has decided the simple act of doing nothing to your hair is credited with the same description as saving your family from a pack of starving bears FFS). Maybe we post a make-up free selfie on Instagram, while also ensuring the light is just right, and we add a sneaky filter or two.
Because heaven forbid we should admit out loud that living our lives for some decades, having kids, going through our own traumas and life events has wrought havoc on our faces and our bodies.
That real life, lived well or otherwise, leaves marks and scars and road maps of where we’ve been all over us.
I’ve had conversations with three different friends this week about the idea of ‘getting work done’. Do they get it done? Do they tell people? Does it make them a bad feminist? What will their husbands think?
And then on the flipside of that we’ve got influencers and celebrities telling us we don’t NEED to do anything. That what we need is to embrace ourselves as we are, flaws and all. (Usually these influencers are also using a thousand filters, which would be fine if they weren’t in the business of making us feel like we’re broken because clearly we just don’t love ourselves as much as they do, and that’s why our lives are hard most days and our kitchens aren’t as organised as theirs.)
Whichever side of the camp you’re on, though, who gives a fuck what anyone else is doing? Want to get your lips filled? Do it. Want to get a boob job? Great. Want to do nothing and allow nature to take you where it may? Groovy.
Whichever way you choose to love yourself is the best way for you. Whether you want to ‘fix’ everything you don’t like, or learn to embrace it all as it is, there is no wrong answer.
But with freedom comes great responsibility. That means do what you want, but also don’t talk smack behind someone else’s back because suddenly her forehead doesn’t furrow like it used to. If that makes her feel good, then good for her. It has no bearing on your ability to enjoy your life over here.
We’re all living in this marketing-powered universe where we are bombarded with messages every minute that we need to fix everything. The best we can do for ourselves and one another is to resolve to please ourselves and allow others to do the same, without judgement.
Is that so hard to do?