Like most women (and I suspect men) your 40s are an interesting decade – you feel exactly the same as you did at 20 or 30 but you are right in the middle of becoming invisible to anyone younger than you and the younger they are the more decrepit they think you are!
When we were all children we looked at people past 20 and thought they were ancient and really couldn’t imagine living until we were 40 or 50 or more; as we get older we all push that boundary of how old is old back a bit further and these days no one really imagines that you have to give up on life when you hit 40.
Or do they?
At the weekend I heard a comment about “training old women” that, unsurprisingly, really hurt. I mean how can that possibly apply to me, after all I’m not old? But I guess when you are 20 or 30 anyone past 40 is knocking on a bit and the older you are the bigger the gap, the less empathy there is. Thinking about my reaction and how I interpreted it got me thinking about why it bothered me and I realised that if I had heard fat, unfit or overweight I would be hurt too but the knowledge I have gained has taught me that I can lose weight, get fit, train hard all of that good stuff to change the outward appearance of my body, I cannot however do anything to change how old I actually am (apart from lie!)
Women are judged so much on their beauty, their body, their physical appearance that we spend our lives trying to change, to fit in, to be considered attractive and its so ironic that just at the point in your life where you really don’t give a damn what anyone thinks is just at the point that society decides not to give a damn either! I used to walk down the road knowing I would get looks or whistles, knowing that men of any age would look at me but now I am resigned to the fact that even if I was stark naked I wouldn’t get a second glance. Apart from a measure of disgust!
Being hit square in the face with the fact that despite my confidence and how my body looks these days there is a huge section of society that looks at me and considers I am too old to be doing any of the things I am doing and that why do I care anyway, after all as an old woman who is there to notice, is something that I really wasn’t expecting. But it did make me realise that as a female personal trainer over 40 who has lost weight and got fit I have a massive advantage and that all of the things I thought when I first started at the gym are exactly the kind of things women DO think to themselves and, I suspect are actually true about their trainers; my first thoughts the day I walked into the gym a year ago was ‘how on earth can this guy even hope to understand how I feel”, “what does he know about my life, about being a woman, having kids, a job, a house etc”, “how can he possibly understand how I feel about my weight, my body, my age”.
After all, how can a 20-something guy come anywhere close to understanding how you feel? How can a 30-something blonde gym-bunny empathise with something that is so far outside her scope of reality?
So, if someone who is 20 or 30 thinks mid 40s is old – at what point do I think or believe I am old? Is it at my mums age? I look around at role models post 50 and think, they still look amazing and many of them are still considered attractive (hello when did anyone tell Kylie she was getting old? or has anyone told Madonna its time to give up?) so why does society still try and write people, and women in particular, off when they are in the prime of their lives?
So here I am in my 40s (and weirdly pride still prevents me from saying my age) feeling amazing, looking better than I have in years, feeling so confident, passionate about the future and my life but just having to accept that to anyone of 20 or 30 I really should just give up, roll over and die! Well I am sorry I am not ready to do that yet, I have a whole life I want to live and I really don’t care what you think.
After all, its only a matter of time – you will be my age soon!