I dream of a society where increasing age isn’t a demeaning punchline. It boggles my mind, how often we hear statements like:
“I’m revealing my age by saying this, but….” as though that’s a bad thing.
“I can’t believe she’s wearing that, at her age,” as though aging removes permission to dress as we wish.
“Beauty fades, but a good heart lasts forever,” as if physical beauty diminishes, versus changes and matures.
One of the most powerful ways to change ageist beauty standards is to embrace our own aging appearances. Easier said than done, right? It is for me, especially when the “anti-aging”-obsessed world around us begs to differ. But it is possible, and worth every effort.
If you have any doubt, look no further than Sandra LaMorgese, PhD. The other week, I interviewed the professional dominatrix and author of the soon-to-be released memoir, Switch, who is a wealth of knowledge on accepting our bodies and selves. She recently had her body painted in the middle of NYC and, on September 14th, will host the first ever nude book signing. She also happens to be 60-years-old.
I loved what she had to say about aging and appearance:
“All during the week of my birthday, I kept hearing the same thing: ‘Wow, you look great for 60!’ What does that mean, that mean if I were 45 I’d look horrible? Am I supposed to look a certain way at 60? Why do we put these labels and kind of stigmas—on ourselves, really?”
Sandra’s relationship with her own body has changed significantly in the past six years, much due to her work as a dominatrix. She entered the field with insecurities many of us can relate to.
“I was in a place where most people are in this society in America,” she said. “Who would ever want a session with me at my age and my figure? Because I was brainwashed like everyone else that you had to be thin and you had to be young.”
That turned out not to be the case at all. Sandra was met with fervor, admiration and respect, which is societally commonplace in other areas of the world—where women are considered sexy and more powerful later in life, versus somehow damaged. (Dominatrixes in Europe, for example, tend to be over 40, Sandra explained.)
Not everyone needs to pursue sex work or go nude in public to find empowerment, of course (though if that tickles your fancy, go for it!). Taking small steps to consciously cultivate positive body image can go a long way, sexually and otherwise. The only way we become more empowered, Sandra said, is through our vulnerability. Beautiful advice!
To hear our Girl Boner® Radio chat, and a thoroughly insightful conversation with the wonderful Joanna Harcourt-Smith (more on that soon!) plus advice from Dr. Megan Fleming on dealing with jealousy, listen on iTunes or here:
What steps have you taken to embrace your body and appearance as you age? What step will you commit to today? If you listened to the episode, what did you think? I love hearing from you!