The very reason I started this website is because I began to feel invisible. I had real body image issues that were taking over my every day.
Ageing process for many is Just like the “Superhero Cloak” with reverse side effects and can start the slow and unrepentant feeling of low self-esteem, where you may increasingly look at yourself both critically and negatively. I have looked at several ways to address how you, a 50 year plus woman can address the body and possibly resulting image issues.
- Turn down the voices inside your head.
- Understanding the importance of a good diet.
- Get dressed every day
- Surrounding yourself with positive people
- Continue to be curious.
- Power of Mindset
- “Comfort Zones”
- Don’t Stop Learning New Things
- Have the courageous conversation
Confidence and a sense of “well being” start with mindset, equally the same mindset, if negative, will have a profound effect on your view of your place in this world. There are steps to help you and with practice you will begin to like and notice the woman in the mirror.
At some time in my 50’s I began to notice no matter how well I dressed or how well groomed I was, there was a no avoiding the fact, men and (especially) younger women failed to acknowledge me the way I had been previously noticed. I could stand at a bar waiting to order and I would not be seen, I could start a conversation, talk and yet somehow I was not heard, I could walk in a busy shopping centre and people, children would walk into me, or notice me at the last minute. Was this just me? Evidence would suggest this is a common perception.
Medical Disclaimer: This post is not intended to provide medical advice. Please speak to your physician or other source should you have any concerns surrounding your physical or mental health
1/ Turning Down Negative Voices
We all have one, and it’s always lurking. “You can’t wear that, you’re too old!” ,”You’ve let yourself go”, “you’re a fraud”. Sound familiar? Sometimes it can be so overwhelming, so loud and so prominent that over time we believe that this voice is our own and these thoughts are what we truly believe about ourselves. Separate yourself from it, you are not identified by that negative voice.
No, you are not crazy for hearing this voice, this my friend, is your inner saboteur talking. So how do we shut it up or make it go away?
These thoughts can be scary and in some cases, even life threatening. The truth is, it will always be there, but you can learn to tune it down and not let these thoughts rule your life.
Give it a name. I’ve named mine Sally. I like that name, and it makes it seem a lot less threatening.
Ignoring it will not make it go away, instead acknowledging it as a separate thought, or even a person, will make it a lot easier to deal with. You have to separate yourself from that voice. I don’t think these things of myself, Sally does! I want to succeed and to be happy, Sally doesn’t want these things for me. When you acknowledge this voice as a separate thing, you realise that it can’t control you.
Listen to it, and thank it. When I say listen to it, I don’t mean you should believe it. Hear what it has to say, and I would say “I hear you, Sally. Thank you for your input, but I don’t agree with you”, and wait. The wave of negativity will come flooding in “But you are all these things!” it’ll argue back, and again, listen to it and say
“I hear you. Thank you, but I love and accept myself unconditionally, right now”.
You are not trying to argue with her, you are just letting her say her peace, accepting that it’s her opinion, not yours, and moving on.
This is not easy at first, you will be bombarded with negative thoughts. This takes practice and at first will feel almost hopeless. Try practising this everyday in front of a mirror. Let those thoughts wash over you, and communicate with it. Over time, the voice will still be there. But now, you see it more as an annoying co-worker rather than your true beliefs. It’ll pipe up from time to time and you’ll be able to say “Oh hello, you again? Yes I hear you, but I think I’m pretty great the way I am”.
2/ Understanding The Importance of A Good Diet
Firstly, by diet I don’t mean following a fad diet. I mean the foundation of the foods you eat and more importantly, when you eat. I want you to approach your diet as a way of making you feel good, rather than as a way to look good. I understand this can be difficult, believe me. We have been conditioned to think that way for so many years ,and this is all about changing your mindset. But like everything on this list, it requires practice and consciousness.
To start with, don’t focus on eliminating or restricting unhealthy foods, that will come later. Instead, first focus on incorporating more whole and healthier foods. Eat every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner with healthy snacks incorporated. Tell yourself that you can have that treat, just eat the healthy foods first. By making that your priority, you will eat the healthy foods first and most likely not even want the unhealthy foods at all! You’ll start to feel energised and satisfied with the foods you’re eating and the cravings for those treats will slowly subside.
Remember: There is nothing wrong with indulging every now and again. This doesn’t make you a bad person, no matter what Sally says!
3/ Go Get Dressed
The old saying of “when you look good, you feel good” is a cliche. But you know, a cliche is a cliche because it’s true. Getting dressed everyday will help boost your productivity and make you feel like you’re in “work mode”. Even if you don’t have any work to do whilst you’re at home or retired, there’s no denying that putting on a smart and put together outfit makes you feel, well, “smart and put together”!
If you are working but on a covid contingency rota, take advantage of this working from home period and wear an outfit you’ve never had the confidence to wear at work or in public. You’ll feel fearless and ready to conquer the day.
4/ Surrounding Yourself With Positive People
The people we surround ourselves with plays a huge part in our overall mindset. Successful people like to surround themselves with other successful people, it keeps them motivated and they fuel each other with positivity. Surround yourself with people who have a positive mindset, who accept themselves and love to spread that message of self love. You’ll feel inspired and motivated to love yourself the way that they love themselves.
The same can be said for negativity. Remember that voice we talked about? When you surround yourself with negative people, that voice feeds off their negativity. There are some people we can’t just cut from our lives, like family for example. I’m not saying that just because someone is negative you should cut them from your life, especially if it’s someone close to you. I’m saying that you should acknowledge that they’re inner saboteur is probably very strong.
You can’t change the way people think, but like you can separate your negative thoughts from your own thoughts, you can accept that their negativity probably isn’t really them talking.
5/ Continue To Be Curious
Keep learning new things, keep exploring. Opening your mind to new skills, locations and people will help to drown out that voice. You’ll be too preoccupied and engaged to even notice it!
Travelling will help to broaden your horizons and put things into perspective. Granted, travelling may be a bit difficult at this time, but you don’t have to travel halfway across the world to indulge in your curiosity. Take a walk to a different location than you normally go to. Read a different genre of books, listen to a podcast about a subject you’ve never explored. Keep your curiosity alive and your mind will grow. You’ll also feel that sense of accomplishment when you learn something new.
6/ Harnessing Your Mindset
Like many things on this list, this will take practice. If your mindset has been negative for so long, it will take time to retrain it into a positive one. There are some simple actions you can take to help you gradually retrain your mindset and keep that negative voice at bay. One of the most powerful ways is practising “Mindfulness” a form of mediation that will help in so many ways, click on the link for an easy to start lesson
Gratitude list. I cannot stress the importance of this one. Sometimes life can feel overwhelming, or like nothing is going right. It becomes very easy to focus on what you don’t have instead of what you do. Every morning, take a few minutes to write a list of everything you are grateful for. Buy a small notepad or notebook, and write a new list on every page for everyday.
You may feel like you have nothing to be grateful for, but believe me, you do. It can be anything! Your friends, family, a pet, you can even be grateful that your favourite food exists! Just start writing something, and you’ll soon realise that you have a lot of things to be grateful for and appreciate.
7/ Comfort Zone
No one person’s comfort zone is the same. It can be a place, a mindset or even a behaviour. It’s not a bad thing to have a comfort zone, they keep us safe in times of stress and (hence the name) comfort. However, it is important not to stay in that comfort zone for too long. Like the negative voice, if you stay in your comfort zone too long, you convince yourself that this is what really makes you feel better, when in actuality, it’s making you unhappy.
Step out of this zone whenever you can. Try something new, do something that intimidates you. It can be scary, we fear unpredictability and the unknown, but the more you do it, the less scary it’ll become.
This is the thing with a comfort zone. You know what to expect from it. You would rather sit in that familiar comfort zone that entails a negative outcome, than venture into the unknown that will likely lead to a positive outcome. Again, there’s nothing wrong with popping into that zone every now and again, sometimes we need it, but just don’t stay there too long.
8/ Don’t Stop The Learning
A great way to boost your confidence and prove to yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to is to bring in an additional source of income. Even if you already have a full time job, generating extra income will make you feel independent, powerful and just damn well proud of yourself, a side hustle (if you will).
There are many opportunities online now to create an additional or a passive income. This could be anything from starting a blog, creating a YouTube channel, selling stuff online, literally anything! Again, this can be scary and overwhelming. You may feel like you’re “too old” to learn anything technical or IT, and that is simply not true. In fact I have written a whole post about online income and you can follow my journey or start your own. Click on the link The post is called Starting a new career at 60 is it too old?
There are so many different ways to learn about starting an online business and now is the time to start. I recently watched a very successful You Tuber, she was doing “make up tutorials” it was interesting but not complicated. What made it different was she was 75 and had over 500,000 subscribers (that is phenomenal and is likely to be earning her a very good monthly income) You Tube is not just for the young and it is wide open for you. You just need to get out of your comfortable zone.
There are tutorials for just about everything these days, from learning to tile your bathroom to learning Mandarin or sign language.
Be patient with yourself, don’t expect to grasp everything straight away or even understand it. Instead, look at it like a journey a marathon not a sprint, down a long, winding but beautiful path. You pick up things along the way and will feel lost at times, but that’s okay, it’s part of the journey.
This will put all these tips to the test. You will have to have faith that you can learn something new and make money from it. You will have to listen to that voice telling you that you’re not smart enough, or that you can’t do it. Remember, listen to it, and just know that it’s wrong.
Conclusion – Let’s Have a Courageous Conversation – About Me
“Is there something you are not telling me”?
It can often take great courage to admit you need help surrounding mental health issues, the act of asking is small, the decision to ask is the biggest step of all.
I am lucky enough to have external supervision (counselling to you and me) as a perk of my job. This is one whole hour a week I get to sit in a lovely room with plants, jug of water, no task list, we just talk, rather I talk about me, just me. As I approach my weekly session I think what on earth will I talk about this week….It is like shedding lots of layers of clothes and taking off all the different masks that I wear, which shroud the anxiety or fear, replaced with confidence and energy. Sometimes I wasn’t aware I was even wearing this mask, so used to ignoring and painting on the smile, when inside I was shrinking
Someone asking the difficult questions and you in turn having those courageous conversations, will take you so far out of your comfort zone that it may hurt, but you will find its slow and continual growth worth the pain.
You may need to re look at the habits around eating or drinking (The secret eating disorder that has plagued you for 10 or 20 years, which you think is just your little secret) or the need for a strong coffee and pick me up every day. Until eventually someone may ask “is there something you want to tell me?”
I am fortunate to witness the power of talking and conversations in my workplace and see its phenomena most days. So talk, to someone who can listen and not judge, you may find this difficult to discuss with family and friends and may be better talked over with someone who doesn’t have a vested interest or even possibly with a professional. A good place to start is MIND, click on the link for further information.
None of these tips are easy. They require work and practice everyday. The mindset you have now, was not formed over night.
For those who have read thus far, thank you for reading.
Please do leave a comment, I would love to hear your story
Founder of Hey Spring Chicken
2 thoughts on “Body Image Issues For Women – Over 50”
This is an honest and refreshing read. I had cancer treatment in the summer and was left with many negative body image thoughts. As this article highlights it is so important to be grateful for everything and appreciate life. The tips and advice given all help to achieve this. Thanks
Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog Fenella,
I was so sorry to read that you previously suffered with Cancer, it has such a devastating effect on your emotional and psychological well-being and can take a very long time to feel comfortable in your own skin without the nagging doubts of, could I have some thing differently, was it as a result of x, or simply why?
I am so pleased you have turned the recovery path and very pleased my blog post helped in some small way.
Once again thankyou for taking the time to read and post. 👍