Why Do Women Have To Be So Afraid Of Getting Old?

By Elaine Dove

I’ve noticed recently that when I run into female friends, especially in groups, that one of the ways women often bond is to enter into a discussion about how we don’t like how we look.

Somehow, a conversation that starts with “How are you?” often turns into a shared lament about weight, age, hair, the fit of jeans, etc. I’ll admit freely that I don’t want to have this conversation. In fact, I often fall silent and end up wandering away when it happens. I keep asking myself if there’s a way for me to bring up what’s happening and my feelings about it. I wonder if doing so would be helpful or just make others more uncomfortable than they obviously already feel.

Here’s why I don’t want to have that conversation: I know that age is not just a number. I know that weight is not just a number.

I’ve been a dancer for more than 25 years and I know that I can’t do the things I used to do with my body. Warmups that used to take 15 minutes now take 30 or 40 and there are a lot of things I just don’t do any more because of the cost to my joints and ligaments. I also know that my knees are going to tell me about it if I gain more than a certain amount of weight.

The art form I’ve practiced for all of my adult life gives me very direct feedback about everyday physics and the effects of aging. I’m fine with it. I feel enormously grateful to have had the chance to dance and perform so much in my lifetime, and to still be doing so to any extent at the age of 42.  Due to the wear and tear of my chosen art, I have to take good care of my body to continue living in it. And I’ve learned that refraining from negative and shaming attitudes toward myself is a big part of that.

Being a dancer has brought me into and kept me in a close relationship with my body, which has been bad at times and is now pretty good. I do understand the sentiment behind statements like “You can do whatever you want, age doesn’t matter!” and “You go girl!” which seem to be the flip side of the body-hating conversation. I guess my question is, isn’t there a middle ground for all this? A place where it’s okay to both have insecurities, and be comfortable and happy with yourself? I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive: the need for us, as women, to tear ourselves to pieces or to pretend a false confidence based on false ideas.

I could say that I want us to love ourselves— but it’s deeper than that.

I want us to be grounded in reality, to understand that aging and change happen, and that it’s really okay. I question the kind of attitude that requires a woman to vanish under any circumstances. And sure, I don’t dance like I did at 22 or 32 — and I don’t regret it, because I also don’t wear awful costumes any more or agree to appear in work with which I’m not comfortable. I intend to dance in whatever way feels right to me as long as I can because I love it, and that love doesn’t come from whether or not I think I look great in a certain pair of pants.

Elaine Dove is an artist and healer living in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit her blog.

[Photo By nowhere Zen New Jersey]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

How a harsh criticism turned ‘Coco’ into Pixar’s most uniquely made movie yet

Victor Landa November 17, 2017

Director Lee Unkrich was hot off the box office success and Oscar win for 2010’s “Toy Story 3” when he delved into making a movie that focused on the Mexican […]

Trump Administration Targets and then Mocks Immigrant with Prosthetic Leg

Victor Landa November 15, 2017

A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant with prosthetic leg and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has been detained by federal immigration agents and held without charges for over a month, treated inhumanely […]

More Latinas are becoming teachers and reshaping our nation’s classrooms

Victor Landa November 29, 2017

The growth of the Latino population in the United States will have a lasting cultural and intellectual impact beyond the arts, food, and celebrations. More and more, Latinas are becoming […]

As Numbers Grow, Recognizing Generations Of Latino Veterans

Victor Landa November 10, 2017

As the nation honors its veterans, government officials point to the growing numbers of Latinos in the military, while Hispanic scholars and historians remind us of the generations of Latino […]

U.S Hispanic Chamber Leader Who Has Had Turbulent Relationship With Trump May Be Ousted

Victor Landa November 22, 2017

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) is moving behind the scenes to oust its prominent president Javier Palomarez over allegations that he misused the organization’s money for his personal […]

How Indie Latinx Comic Book Authors Are Capturing the Latinx Experience

Victor Landa November 13, 2017

Back in 2010, comics creator Javier Hernandez was walking around San Francisco with his friend Ricardo Padilla when he had an idea: Why don’t they build a comics convention focusing […]

Half of Latino Immigrant Characters on TV Are Portrayed as Criminals, Study Finds

Victor Landa November 1, 2017

Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors, and producers concerning Latino immigrant characters. Immigrants and […]

Could Hispanic vote push Lupe Valdez into Texas Governor’s Office?

Victor Landa December 8, 2017

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues– particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says […]