How to Love Your Ageing Body

Do you 100% unconditionally love every part of your ageing body - feet, legs, thighs, tummy area, boobs, upper arms, neck, chin, nose, etc etc? No, I thought not, and neither do I! If you answered 'yes I do love every part of my body unconditionally' -  then I congratulate you wholeheartedly and say you are a very rare woman, and you can stop reading this now!

I have had a long and quite painful battle with body-loathing since my teenage years. At around 16 years of age, (I believed) my breasts were too small and lopsided, my backside was too big, my ankles were too thick, my feet were too short and wide. I am fairly sure however that if I could time travel and go back and see my naked teenage body I would think it was absolutely gorgeous from the perspective of my 68 year old self - the skin would be smooth and even and there would be no wrinkly saggy bits.

All my historic body-loathing came to the fore in mid- December when I was invited to a national newspaper for a photo shoot.

The photo was going to go online and it was also going to be in a full-page spread in the newspaper illustrating an article about Granpreneurs - older women who, like me,  are both grandmothers and running their own businesses. While we were waiting to go into the studio for the photo shoot, Anna (my daughter) and I agreed that I was going to be really assertive and insist on wearing my own black trousers with whatever top they suggested. As a precaution I had also taken a couple of favourite tops and some bits of interesting jewellery.  However as Robbie Burns said "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a-gley."

I have learnt from long experience how to dress for my shape (see photo) and how to draw attention away from those areas of my body I still dislike.

I am o.k from neck to waist. A good supporting bra in the correct size makes my boobs look fine, I still have a waist and flattish stomach and my neck isn't too bad either. My arms are horribly flabby but I always keep them covered. The problems are all from waist down. I have very heavy shapeless legs - saggy thighs, unbelievably ugly knees, thick calves and ankles and sore feet. As a result I NEVER EVER wear dresses or high heeled shoes.

Experience has taught me that narrow black trousers work that miracle of slimming my legs and disguising the old, lumpy, flabby bits. On my feet I wear flat boots in the winter and ballet pumps in the summer.  By wearing bright, interesting and attractive tops, earrings and a necklace and ensuring my face and hair are the best I can make them, I draw attention to the nice bits and I feel confident about my appearance.

However, the stylist on the photo shoot was having none of my nonsense.

She showed me the L.K Bennett dress and shoes I would be expected to wear: an airforce blue 'body con' dress with elbow length sleeves and a high V neckline and below the knee hemline. The shoes were cripplingly high-healed snakeskin horrors. The words "I wouldn't choose to wear either that dress or those shoes in a million years"  came to mind. No-one has actually told me what to wear since I left school in 1965! So I tried, I really tried to object. But after gently implying that I might be omitted from the article if I didn't do as I was told, I caved in and submitted to their ministrations. I was also told absolutely no jewellery was allowed (not their 'house style' apparently).  I struggled into the dress, held my stomach in, stood up ramrod straight to elongate my body and was hoisted onto (rather than into) the 4 inch heeled shoes in which I literally could not move thanks to the excruciating pain in my arthritic toes.

I thought I'd managed to avoid any alterations to my hair and makeup.

After all, I am a qualified makeup artist, I have my own makeup brand and I arrived with a perfect maquillage. I had also coiffed my hair so that it looked soft and fairly natural. Having made it clear that I didn't want anything done to my face or hair, as I was posing for the test shots, the makeup artist suddenly shot forward and before I could stop her she rubbed some sculpting product through my hair and proceeded to back comb it into a 'bouffant' style. She also started plastering concealer onto my face and then topped it with powder. At that point I just gave up! I no longer looked remotely like me, I was some projection of what they thought a woman like me should look like.

You can see the result here.

It's me, but it's so not me! But as always I have learnt a very important lesson. Hating the unattractive bits of my ageing, wobbly saggy body is a complete waste of time and energy,  I am not a model, so (under normal circumstances) I don't have to be objectified by having others choose how I look. Like a lot of you fabulous older women, I take pride in my appearance because it pleases me and as long as I can please myself I will continue to wear those styles which I know really flatter this less-than-perfect body!

How do you feel about your ageing body? What have you learnt from experience works best for your size and shape?      

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