Ageism Rebel: Dara Goldberg
I just Googled ‘best definition of aging’, and here’s what came up first:
“Progressive physiological changes in an organism that lead to senescence, or a decline of biological functions and of the organism’s ability to adapt to metabolic stress.”
– Encyclopedia Britannica
And, it made me sad. Really sad.
“The same biases and stereotypes are making younger generations of women fear and dread getting older.”
Definition Of Aging For Women:
The definition is not incorrect in and of itself, but it’s downright limited and misleading.
How can it be that so many societies have adopted this partial, purely scientific, and largely negative definition of aging and never looked back?
Even worse, how could they have used it as the basis for drawing all of the negative assumptions, biases and stereotypes about the experience of aging, and midlife and beyond for women that still reign over us today?
These are the negative biases and stereotypes that are keeping us women in midlife and beyond misunderstood, undervalued and increasingly invisible.
They are the same biases and stereotypes that are making younger generations of women fear and dread getting older and start using ‘anti-aging’ products as early as their teens.
Description Of My Aging Experience:
If I were to accept society’s current definition (which I don’t), my description of my aging experience so far could be something like this:
- I’m 55 years old.
- My mind and body are aging.
- I have wrinkles (I call them lifelines), sags, age spots (I call them sun kisses), and a little pain in my right hand that I should probably ask my doctor about.
- Moreover, I have memory slips, sometimes in the middle of a conversation.
- I still get hot flashes, can’t sleep worth a darn, and miss the super curly hair I had before my wiry gray hair took over.
- Feel free to insert some more negative stuff here…
If I continue with this definition and negative perception of the aging experience for women, I’m probably also supposed to follow up this checklist with: “And I’m doing everything I can to avoid, halt, and reverse the effects of aging.”
Being A Woman In Midlife:
But, here’s the thing, while everything I included in that list is indeed true, IT DOESN’T EVEN BEGIN to scratch the surface of my full experience of aging and being a woman in midlife.
Missing from that list is the depth and richness of midlife and beyond that most women experience, not despite but because we are getting older.
- The growth we experience. The pride we feel. And the greater fulfillment and joy we find.
- Having such a stronger sense of self. The feeling of being unembarrassable.
- Realizing we get to define ourselves on our own terms, not based on society’s or other people’s judgments and expectations.
- Giving ourselves permission to lead with our heart, values and sense of purpose, not just our brain.
- Being kinder and more compassionate with ourselves than ever before.
- Realizing that sexy isn’t an age, a shape, or a size. We decide if we’re sexy or not.
- And, so much more.
“It’s time for an unbiased, all-encompassing definition that reflects the real depth, beauty, and multifaceted nature of our experience of aging.”
It’s Time To Set Things Straight:
It’s time for an unbiased, all-encompassing definition that reflects the real depth, beauty, and multifaceted nature of our experience of aging.
A definition that speaks to the human experience of aging, not merely the scientific aspects of it.
A definition that doesn’t represent aging as nothing more than a checklist of unwanted and, in some cases, challenging symptoms and changes in our physical and mental capacities and capabilities.
4 Steps We Can Take Right Now:
- REFUSE TO ACCEPT the current narrow definition. Refute the negative assumptions, biases and stereotypes that are based on this definition.
- TUNE INTO ALL YOU LOVE about being a woman in midlife and beyond. All of your wisdom. Your strong sense of self. Your capacity for deep, meaningful relationships. And your willingness to ‘shed the shoulds’ and let go of mindsets, relationships, and things that don’t serve you well.
- FIND YOUR VOICE and share it loud and clear, far and wide. Share what you love about midlife and beyond with friends, family, at community gatherings, strangers in line at the grocery store, anywhere you can.
- SEEK OUT YOUNGER WOMEN in particular. Let them know all that they have to look forward to as they move into midlife and beyond. Help us get to the day when younger women look forward to becoming a proud woman in midlife and beyond.
About the Author:
Dara Goldberg is a change-maker, entrepreneur, speaker, and the founder of the Lovin’ Midlife Movement. She’s known for her love of Spanish wine, and her undying passion to make the world recognize women in midlife are invincible–not invisible.
After 15 happy years advising and raising millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations and charitable foundations as a founding partner in a consulting firm, she woke up one morning and realized something was off. This was the pivotal moment–as society told her she was crazy for wanting to leave a perfect job–where she realized there needed to be a change. Now she advocates for and brings together women in midlife to change the way society looks at, listens to, and understands them. Appearing weekly on Clubhouse, she has sparked a community of like-minded women who are fiercely proud to call themselves women in midlife. You can follow Dara on IG.