also posted on feministmormonhousewives.org
I've noticed(ymmv) that in the gym locker room, it seems the older women, the ones that have a few years of accumulated fat around the belly and gray hair, don't care as much about changing and showering in full view of others. They appear to be comfortable. Unlike the youngish and nubile women and girls who not only don't shower and change where anyone can see them, but go to great lengths lest one catch any glimpse of their forbidden bits. Doesn't it seem like it should be the other way around?
From what I've noticed, many of the younger women hiding their bodies in the locker room also wear itty-bitty shorts and sport bras on the elliptical machine. They are also the ones that run around campus in miniskirts and high heels in the winter. I'm fascinated with their portrayal of self confidence and display of selected body parts to the world and how quickly that self confidence seems diminish in the locker room-- the place where it's OK to really let it all hang out. I'm fascinated because I identify with the young women... and the older women.
All of this observation of late has me thinking of my youth and I'll be honest--I'm having a really difficult time accepting my age.
I admit that there are some great things about being in my mid 30's. For example, I know a little bit more than the average 22 year old about how the world works and how people think. I'm grateful to say that I have 20+ years of good and really bad life experiences and I'm fortunate to recognize their value. It's also been fun to realize that I'm still attractive, at my age, to the men-types (I'd be full of dog poo if i didn't admit that it matters to me.)
But yet, there are some sucky things about aging. My body aches. I have shoulder and back issues that keep me up all night. My vision is failing, I'm noticing lines around my mouth and eyes, a brand new difficulty in shedding excess fat and the sharp decline in the amount of perky parts.
While I'm being honest...I'll also admit that for much of my life, my physical appearance has been important to my success(?) my acceptance(?) I don't know for sure what it was, but I know it's been positive. (I want to state that I consider myself to be only slightly better than average and that's only because I have really great hair). I worry about entering the job market again as a late 30's/early 40 something woman, my youth and beauty behind me. I worry about not having that positive advantage (because I've learned that looks matter during the interview process). That might be shallow and arrogant to many of you but I have always tried to be honest on this forum and since when do I pull punches? These are real concerns to me and pretty much every other women over the age of perky.
So while it's silly to me now, as a quasi-mature (don't laugh, I've got the body to prove it) woman, in the past, I was that young girl hiding behind a towel worried about others seeing my body even though I would flaunt appropriate (I thought) bits of it with a well fitting tank top because, you know, I had lots of muscles that needed to be seen.
Back then why was I ashamed to have someone see my much more beautiful (for standard cultural values of beauty) naked body in the shower but now-- as the middle aged (almost invisible) woman with not so firm parts, a belly that proves that I gave birth, thighs tone by many years working in an office, that I don't need to give a crap. Well, not as much.
So what happened? Did I just realize that it's futile? That I'm not in competition with anyone (and maybe I never really was) and it's not worth worrying about? Or am I, at the ripe age of 35, just starting to realize that nobody is looking and that my value as a woman is actually in those 20+ years of life experience?
Still, even with the progress I've made on the personal front, how do I convince a future employer of that?
What about you? How are you dealing with age? Beauty? Being older and entering the job market?
Here's a funny bit of life: my 15 y/o just walked in, asked me how the bathing suit top looks on her ( for her mutual activity), makes a comment about how much she likes how she looks in the top and then puts on a pair of too big for her man shorts because she doesn't want anyone to see her butt and legs--because?]