Have you shrunk in size as you’ve aged? No, I’m not talking about your actual height – that comes with the territory. I am talking about your proverbial self…. Your essence…. Are you trying to keep small, take up less space?
Is it self imposed? When we struggle with our mirror’s reflection, when we aren’t feeling particularly beautiful or smart or sexy, that can really wreak havoc on our self-esteem.Why do so many women disappear in midlife and beyond? Why do we blend into the background? Ignored by mass marketing companies. Ignored by the bartender in a crowded venue.
“we tend to think attractive people are smarter, healthier, and friendlier than less attractive people”
If we built our power on how we affected others by the way we look, it can be demoralizing and shocking to sense that power diminish with each passing year and each new wrinkle or sag.
I grew up hearing I was beautiful. From as long as I can remember, family members, friends, even strangers, commented on my physical package. I know, I know… poor me, the world’s smallest violin is playing the score of this essay. It’s not a bad thing to be experienced as “attractive”. It comes with perks.
Scientists discovered long ago that people favor those with a pretty face. Attractive people are more likely to get jobs, make more money, get the better table at a restaurant, evade a speeding ticket, and the like. They’ve even found that we tend to think attractive people are smarter, healthier, and friendlier than less attractive people.
What Makes People Attractive:
What makes people “attractive” to society? Turns out that “averageness” and symmetry play a big part in what we find beautiful. We tend to stare longer at faces that are symmetrical and faces that resemble what we are used to seeing.
A study performed with almost 300 college students revealed interesting results. They were shown photos of women’s faces from three image sets. (If you’re thinking this study starts off sexist with photos of ONLY women, I am already there). They had four seconds to view each photo. Immediately after viewing they were asked questions about the person in the last photo. Questions like: how likely was she to be smart, kind, popular, or friendly? Universally, both men and women, ranked the unattractive, or less symmetrical faces, as less intelligent, less popular, and so forth. The study was repeated with children between the ages of seven to nine and the results were identical.
The Perks Of Being Perceived As Attractive:
I definitely have gotten away with some poor behaviors because of the way I look (or looked). Behaviors that my “less attractive” friends were not “entitled” to. In particular with the opposite sex. It was right about the time I was 21 that I awoke to the power I possessed. I began using my physical pleasantness and sexual energy as tools. Of course I backed it up with substance, but I certainly “let” people curry me favor. Why not? “Use what your mama gave you.”
What Happens When We Age?
“What am I worth if I no longer am youthful and fertile?”
Flash forward 31 years and I found myself “powerless” – or, so it seemed at the time. At 52, when I looked in the mirror, I barely recognized the reflection. Past my healthy reproductive era, my skin, duller, age-spotted, and creased, reflected back an image I had trouble accepting. In my mind’s eye, I no longer looked like “me”.
It was at exactly this time that I began sensing being ignored – not noticed. What was happening? My body was betraying me privately and now publicly I was being banished. At first, my reaction to the effects of time on my physical presence was to make myself smaller, to disappear. Honestly, it is near impossible for me to solve this particular “egg/chicken” predicament.
Did I shrink and shrivel because societal norms favor youth and fertility? Or, did I vanish because of my own inner conflict with my worth? What am I worth if I no longer am youthful and fertile?
You See The Merry Go Round, Right?
The less I thought of myself, the more I focused on the latest wrinkle or sag, and the less I was seen. It was a demoralizing, unhealthy cycle. According to actuary tables I may live another 25+ years, that is way too long to live out of integrity and miserable.
“the best way to rid something of its power is to bring it onto center stage with a nice bright spot”
I did something about it. Instead of accepting my smallness and invisibility, I chose to shine a neon bright light on aging – on MY aging! This was my primary impetus to begin the Kuel Life online platform. In my experience, the best way to rid something of its power is to bring it onto center stage with a nice bright spot. It’s there where you can disarm the demon. It has nowhere to hide.
We don’t hide at Kuel Life. We are a Community of powerful women in midlife and beyond who do want to be seen, heard, and respected. Each day the Community strengthens and grows. Experts on topics relevant to us help educate us. Women entrepreneurs promote their wares. Women from around the world share their wisdom. There is strength in numbers and we are proof of that.
Interestingly enough, now at 56 I am seen again, hit on again, noticed again. Did all of a sudden I have a miracle anti-aging procedure? Nope. I didn’t “fix” anything on the outside. I took charge of what is mine. What my Mama gave me goes far deeper than a pleasing outer shell. I chose to create an online Community where women can inspire, empower, and lift up one another. I am happy to report that I, once again, recognize the smart, sexy, beautiful, powerful woman reflected back at me in my mirror. If you are not already there, reach out to me, join us on Kuel Life, take your power back!