Why being middle aged suddenly kicks ass.

The Sunday papers and their varied inserts and magazines have long been a part of my weekend routine. Many a blog post has sprung from something I have read, and this post joins the long list. Interestingly there seemed to be a theme that kept shouting at me from the pages this past weekend, namely, that being middle aged kicks some serious ass.

I turned forty late last year, and to be honest, until this weekend I would have vehemently insisted that I’m still not middle aged. I would have argued that, technically, I would actually like to live well past eighty. But then I flicked through the paper, and this is some of what I read:

  • A front page headline described Kylie Minogue as middle aged. At 46 the age-defying Ms Minogue is definitely middle aged, there’s no question about it. But would it ever occur to you as you browse pictures of her? I doubt it.
  • Jane Caro discussed in her column the sad fact of television networks and event organisers chasing the fickle young consumer and audience, while missing the fact that it’s actually the older woman who has the time and the money to enjoy and appreciate what it is that they’re selling.
  • One story featured quotes by and images of Salma Hayek (48), Kate Winslet (39), Halle Berry (48), Naomi Watts (46), and Thandie Newton (42). They all look amazing {and very un-plastic}.
  • A few pages later Madonna was featured flashing her butt at a recent awards show. After my initial reaction of omg you have got to be kidding me, it occurred to me that: a. she is FIFTY-SIX years old, b. she has been an influential part of the music scene for over thirty years, and tellingly, c. she had a whole page feature dedicated to her behaviour and failure to “act her age”. While her music has long since stopped being relevant in my life, the feminist punk in me applauds her audacity and refusal to bow to sexist, ageist ideas and expectations. She still does it all on her own terms and has never once apologised for being a strong woman in charge of her own career, and the way she sells herself. We’re still talking about her, aren’t we?
  • On the subject of musicians, my favourite Aussie rock chick turned 44 this week, and judging by a lot of the comments on social media, is still regarded as smoking hot. Not to mention that her talents as a songwriter and performer have never been more highly regarded.
  • Then there were the Academy Awards last week, and all the women who I thought looked best were also middle aged. Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Aniston, Naomi Watts {again}, and Jennifer Lopez were the undisputed standouts. {Although I have to say that Margot Robbie represented the young ‘uns with class}.

{Speaking of J Lo: oh my fricken goodness, if that’s middle aged then count me in}.

And before you all think I’m celebrity obsessed, I checked my Instagram and Facebook feeds, and all the cool people there are also middle aged or very close to it! Ditto many of the bloggers I like. It just seems that by the time a woman hits her early to mid forties she has shed the doubts and insecurities of youth, and has a subtle but undeniable strength borne of life experience. We know who we are, what we think, and aren’t afraid to say it or show it. Basically, by middle age we’ve all grown some balls.

And while Madonna might seem like a tragic has-been to some I have to admire her brazenness. She refuses to apologise, and that’s something we can all take note of. She flashes her almost-bare fishnet-ted butt at the press, and the Johnny {Johnette?} Rotten in me loves it, even while I cringe. She might not ever have been regarded as a serious singing or song-writing talent, but if there’s one thing Madonna has always understood, it’s the media, and in particular their treatment of women, and in particular as they age. She declared twenty years ago that she wasn’t going to one day retire and become all sedate and take up a cardigan and knitting needles, and she hasn’t.

Nope, no grannies here.

Nope, no grannies here.

So there you have it, my homage to the middle aged woman. They look hot, have their shit together, and have brains and an attitude to boot. Bring it on, I say.

Til next time,

A.

*All pictures from Google Images.

  1. It’s time “middle aged” women get positive representation.
    As far as “plastic” or butt flashing goes I don’t care. It makes me cringe to see some surgery gone wrong and I can’t help but think what influences, from people surrounding them or from the media, brought somebody down that road and yet there’s no reason for me to judge it or what makes another woman feel comfortable. Plus butt flashing is like the least shocking thing ever. It might come across as immature but it’s a butt. I mean: a butt.
    I’m sick of reading articles and hearing commentary telling women they need to cover up or it makes them a bad influence. Our bodies are not something we should have to keep under wraps or feel ashamed of. Our breasts are not sexual organs. I’m not sure how the subject is handled in Australia but in the US there’s this rampant and degrading commentary from every corner berating women for their clothing choices especially over a certain age and drives me mad! I understand there’s a fashion aspect to that commentary that can get mixed in but mostly, and at the end of the day, it seems to be about women needing to cover themselves up or act their age or be role models and that’s such an old fashioned and gross misogynistic attitude.
    I applaud your post and as a thirty something you make me look forward to middle-age and help me see clearly and past the bullshit that the media and gossip and out of touch have thrown at us about women growing older. So basically good job Ana!

    PS I apologize in advance for any typos or nonsense rambling because I can’t proof-read right now and I’m sure this is a mess! Bah! =)

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    1. I think, but I’m not sure, that Australia is a bit more relaxed about nudity, it seems like from what I’ve read, that the U. S. is a bit more conservative? And I do hate the whole expectations about acting a certain age, that’s bullshit. What I like about the women I mentioned us that, despite undeniably having had SOME work done, they still look their age. J Lo has fine lines and none of them look 25 anymore, and they look fantastic. I hate ageist reporting and commentary.

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      1. Yeah it’s weird here because it’s very conservative about that stuff and HARSH on women especially regarding age, fashion and body image. It’s so fucked up. And I do think that despite there being a huge gap in women being celebrated for their accomplishments and talents that it’s perfectly normal for many women to want to talk beauty and fashion because some of like makeup and clothes and all that which is absolutely fine but it’s as if there’s no point if you’re beyond 35 years old or something which I reject completely. Fuck that!
        I do like that those fine lines and other hints of age are visible but I think it’s alright if other women have less or more of that too at that age or any age, it’s up to them.
        What I’m trying to work on his not jumping to judgement when I see teenagers and twenty-somethings with visible wrinkles and skin damage from their lifestyle, nutrition, sunning, lack of spf, ect….because I want to slather them with sunscreen and give them huge sunglasses and warn them about accelerated aging and cancer but I have to let it sink in that it’s not my call and I shouldn’t want to control other people’s body image or emphasize the value of beauty. I have a ways to go I’m awful at that and I do it in my head to people I see on the street all the time: “that lady needs to cut out salt, wear sunglasses, cut her hair, ditch the dark eye makeup” They don’t need me to make them over. ugh! Shame on me.

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        1. No omg I’m the same! I’m awful!

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  2. Ugh I forgot something. On the plastic surgery I meant to say that though I don’t think it’s fair to make fun of or judge women for their obvious work done or botched work I DO appreciate seeing women with a more natural look because for me that says “There’s nothing wrong with being 40+, you don’t need to try to look 25”. I love the embrace of that stage of life however with all the powerful influences on women to remain youthful I’m not surprised so many still turn to the doctor or help but I don’t feel comfortable slamming them for that either though I wish we lived in a world that celebrated age instead of trying to fend it off so they would have one less influence to surgically alter themselves.

    I should proof read but I’m not going to!
    Anyway I think spotlighting women who look beautiful and have their shit together like this is wonderful but I don’t want to count out women who don’t appear as secure. Plus most women don’t look like these famous people and they are just as amazing in other ways. The emphasis needs to come off the physical and be focused on the accomplishments & experiences but it seems like there’s finally a teeny tiny shift towards that in the media(really really teeny though!!) and an article like yours certainly helps. =) love it.

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    1. I love what you said at the end, the women I know in real life who are in their forties and haven’t had any plastic surgery, all look excellent.

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      1. I’m still thinking on this, there’s just not enough time/space for me to respond but your post was so thought-provoking!! Then again everyone on earth doesn’t need my opinion so I guess it’s okay that I drew the line somewhere but I could keep discussing it!

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        1. Maybe you could write a post about it, I definitely like to hear your take on it.

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          1. Maybe! I don’t think I can write about it as eloquently and organized as you did but as a cheat I reblogged your post.

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  3. […] Why being middle aged kicks ass I love this post. Celebrating the awesome women in their forties and beyond who defy what middle age used to look like. And if I can learn to contour and use blush at 41 then anyone can. […]

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