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Some midlife mothers find themselves to be the butt of ageist remarks and preconceptions, while others don’t. Why?
Could the answer be only skin deep?
Check this out: We live in a country where at least two thirds of the states have an obesity rate above 30%, while the media persist in peddling the mother-daughter makeover like a feel-good narcotic for the maternal masses.
It doesn’t take a big leap of logic to infer that the same paradox causes us to be conflicted about maternal age.
We’re practically steeping in an atmosphere of ambivalence and self-flagellation when it comes to female and maternal self-imagery. Dig deeper—just about skin deep—and the truth begins to emerge.
Why do we have “make-overs” in the first instance?
It’s because we perceive that the way we are isn’t good enough.
The answer as to why some older mothers never need to tell the “grandma story” and have only positive social experiences to relate, while others suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous stigma, is simplicity itself.
If you’re an over-40 mom and you look like Nicole Kidman, well, then it’s good to be the queen (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/History_of_the_World,_Part_I). Kidman has her personal grooming and upkeep distilled down to a precise science that only money can buy.
The cultural icons of over-40 motherhood—role models whom we look up to—live unnatural lives, outside of the usual social norms. Midlife mothers like Kidman, Kelly Preston, Celine Dion, Madonna, Susan Sarandon are the beautiful people with a get-out-of- jail-free pass for maternal ageism.
And the rest of us midlifers are supposed to live up to that standard, the same way teenage girls embrace anorexia to attain a Kate Moss level of willowy beauty.
It doesn’t take a major twist in reasoning to think that beauty is also synonymous with youth. The Niagara Falls quantities of Hollywood Botox don’t lie.
The results of a worldwide study published in March of this year showed that attractive people are happier and actually earn more money than “plain Janes.”
Todd Kashdan, an associate professor of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who studies well-being, was quoted in USA Today (http://yourlife NULL.usatoday NULL.com/your-look/story/2011/03/Beautiful-people-are-happier-study-finds/45500558/1) as saying that the beautiful people are “getting the benefit of the doubt at first sight, and unattractive people aren’t.”
Ergo, if you look “good for your age,” onlookers don’t even consider that you might be the grandma, nor are they likely to think you an ugly duckling of a mother.
Alternatively, are you a mom with young kids who is looking 50 as well as feeling it? Well, you may wish to consider a mother’s makeover. It’s going to be a while before our preference for the youthful beauty of motherhood gets one.
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally.
A CHILD AFTER 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/community). The first online community to empower women on the journey of motherhood after 40, launching at www.flowerpowermom.com/a-child-after-40.
CDC 2011 Statistics on obesity: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html (http://www NULL.cdc NULL.gov/obesity/data/trends NULL.html)
- (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/health-headlines/women-increasingly-going-online-to-seek-free-sperm-donors-1 NULL.1590245)
Angel on CNN(http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)
CNN Mother's Day: "Mature Moms" (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)(http://youtu NULL.be/atScMih4_d0) (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
AARP's "Inside E-Sreet" on PBS TV (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
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