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The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Peri-Menopausal Woman

At first, it doesn’t make sense. You feel good, you look good and though you may not be mistaken for Christie Brinkley’s twin sister, you’ve been known to turn a head or two in your time. But as surely as yesterday’s admiring glance from the twenty-something bag boy made you feel present, alive and sexy,

today’s dismissal from that bag boy is undeniable. Yesterday you were “young enough” to flirt with, without it being too creepy. Today you are the nice older lady who needs help carrying her purchases to her car. Her older lady car. Because today you are, yes, we’re going there, an older lady and the only admiring glances you’ll likely get from this day forward are from, gasp, (very) older men, if you’re lucky. You feel as though you are disappearing…but there is more to this story.

The funny thing is, in our youth, with our beauty taken for granted on a daily basis, we are often annoyed by oglers. Being ogled can feel invasive and uncomfortable, but it can also be flattering–a sort of validation that we still have “it”.

As a woman, one of the gifts of aging is knowing, finally, positively, that looks aren’t everything. So what if you’re a bit thicker around the middle and gravity is starting to do a number on your jaw? You have wisdom! Humor! Self-confidence you would have killed for in your twenties! But then, there is your graying hair. And your nose, which suddenly seems to have gotten larger. And that annoying roll between your armpit and your bra. But who cares? You have wisdom! (Did we already say that?)

Let’s take that wisdom and state what, at forty- or fifty- or sixty years old we know (or should, for heaven’s sake) to be inevitable truths:

– True beauty is on the inside
– Everyone ages
– Negative self-talk is destructive and a waste of time

We are not advocating that you throw in the towel, wrap your head in a turban and get a cane. As an independent and intelligent woman, you know you have the right to do whatever it is that makes you feel beautiful—including opting for plastic surgery, throwing away the hair dye or anything in between. But how you feel about your place in the world has nothing to do with how you look and for many of us, accepting this fact may take some work.

What if we start by simply re-framing our thinking about aging? What if we thought about it not as a devastating end to our youth, but as a right of passage–a privilege, even? Don’t we all know at least one woman who is perfectly preserved on the exterior yet whose heart is as old and brittle as Methuseleh’s? And don’t we also know at least one woman whose advanced age is an inspiration—someone who doesn’t fret about her wrinkles or age spots, laughs frequently and hugs often?

Something to think about the next time you’re at the grocery store.

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