Young women are often plagued with feelings that they are not thin enough or pretty enough. Because of their age, they need validation and acceptance from their peers. They are also more vulnerable to the negative impacts of advertising and social media on self-esteem.
Yet, poor body image does not really go away as one grows older.
Women in their 30s and beyond do not feel more confident about their bodies. In fact, they gain more reasons to dislike their appearance. The graying hair, the lines around their eyes, the excess weight that is harder to lose make older women more self-conscious. Even if aging is normal, in a world that values youth, it can be very challenging to learn to appreciate the changes in one’s body through time.
Body Image Changes with Your Body
Older women are made to feel insecure about their appearance by a variety of factors. There is an under-representation of women of certain ages in media, specifically in advertising, which deprives them of positive role models. However, perhaps some of the most important factors that lead to a lack of self-esteem among older women are physiological transformations that happen throughout their lives. After puberty, the body also changes during pregnancy and menopause. Menopause, in particular, brings symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, low libido, and vaginal dryness.
These major milestones affect a person’s ability to manage stress and their overall perception of themselves. One survey conducted in 2014 found that 50 percent of older women feel judged because of their age. Most feel ignored when they walk into a crowded room. From the 2,000 respondents, only 15 percent were confident in any area of their life.
Take Care of Your Body
It is more important for older women to exercise regularly not just for their health, but for their appearance.
Exercise improves blood circulation that delivers the necessary nutrients as well as oxygen to the skin. It boosts the production of collagen and promotes new skin cell turnover. As a result, you look youthful for longer.
It also helps manage body weight. As you age, your body gains more fat and loses muscles. Your metabolism slows down and you gain more weight. That is why it is harder for older women to shed excess weight. Sometimes, an effective laser liposuction procedure is necessary to remove fat, especially around the stomach area. With ample physical activity, you maintain and continue to build muscles, leading to a healthier weight.
Eating a balanced diet will also improve your appearance. Food rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids is good for the skin and hair because they fight the consequences of free radicals. You gain supple skin and shiny hair when you eat the right types of food.
Focus on What Beauty Means to You
The media sells a specific and often unachievable ideal of what a woman should look like. You have to be smarter and recognize that beauty does not lie in having an hourglass figure or a perfectly symmetrical face. You have to come up with your own definition of beauty.
Reconsider your own thoughts and opinions about your body. Which parts do you like or dislike? Are these the beliefs that you came up with by yourself, or did someone else, like a magazine or a television commercial, tell you what is desirable and what is not?
Once you realize that beauty ideals are unrealistic and are only created to push a product to consumers, you will feel better about yourself. You will be kinder to your body. It will take work to eliminate years of mind-conditioning the media and marketers have put you, and countless other women through, but you can escape from it and be free to see yourself and your changing body as beautiful.
The practice of gratitude has been proven to improve one’s quality of life. According to numerous research, the practice of gratitude can improve your relationships with the people around you and your self-esteem.
One study found that people who feel gratitude and express it have higher self-esteem. When you notice that your friends and family are good to you, you value yourself better and you become less likely to compare yourself to others. It builds confidence knowing that people like you, trust you, and care for you.
Older women who are experiencing low self-esteem should also consider seeing a mental health professional. Your therapist can help you talk about insecurities, rewire your thoughts, and learn to love yourself.