Our time is now.

As a young girl growing up in the ‘60s, I was raised in a sheltered New England community. Back then, I had yet to see a female newscaster, a female doctor, a female astronaut, or a female soldier. My young mind would have thought such a thing impossible.

Not long ago, the mature woman, as presented to us by mass media, was obsessed with keeping her husband’s dirty shirt collars clean and his coffee cup filled. To be a woman relegated you to a narrowly defined path; you were not encouraged, or expected, to wish for more. Television and movies portrayed the over-40 woman as asexual, content to tend to the needs of others at the expense of her own. What dreams they may once have harbored, now buried beyond reach. The worn cliché of a woman never admitting to being over 29 years of age is grounded in fact; to admit to anything else was to put oneself in danger of being deemed obsolete.

Flash to the 21st century — today. What a difference! From Hollywood to Washington DC, female role models abound. Together we have witnessed, and continue to witness, history in the making. History made when Nancy Pelosi took to the podium as the first-ever female US Speaker of the House. History now unfolding as Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman in history to find herself in serious contention for the position of United States President. Whether or not Hillary is elected, the landscape of US politics is forever changed. For the better.

Our time is now.

One need look no further than Candice Bergan’s character, Shirley Schmidt of ABC’s Boston Legal, to see a woman of action. Age is no barrier to Shirley, nor to Candice. They’re both smart, successful, vibrant, and confident in their sexuality. No wonder Candice was chosen to play the part.

Sally Field, Diane Keaton, Teri Hatcher, are just a few of the many women over 40 who have, throughout their careers, helped to shape the collective consciousness of more than one generation. Our daughters look, as did we, to these older women, and to the characters they play. In them, they see walking, talking evidence of that which is possible; that they too are free to pursue their dreams.

The beautiful and intelligent Vanessa Williams, age 44, gracing of cover of February’s More Magazine, it’s 10th Anniversary Edition, said, “I’m enjoying every moment. In your twenties, you think, I’ve got to prove something. In your forties, you don’t.” Bravo, Vanessa.

Our time is now.

We’re wiser at 40 than we were at 30. But to those of us nearing 60, 70, or older, the 40-year old is but a child. Most of us, sadly not all, have, by the time we’ve reached 40, learned some lessons along the way. For sure, we’ve learned a thing or two about life, and about our ability to cope and adapt when change rears its head. We embrace our dreams; no longer afraid of failure, for failure is just another lesson to be learned. We refuse to live a life of regret forged by an unwillingness to act upon our dreams.

Face it, 40 isn’t the new 30 any more than 60 is the new 40. But so what? We no longer feel compelled to lie about our age. We’ve earned those numbers and do not shrink from admitting them. We no longer feel it necessary to add “for my age” to the end of each sentence when we see ourselves in a mirror and admit that we look pretty good. Far from hanging up the “out of order” sign, aging prepares us to experience that which is to come. Our confidence, not to be confused with youth’s false bravado, is real, and comes from deep within. We’ve learned to trust our instincts in our quest to realize our potential.

Our time is now!

Speaking for myself, this is one over-40 woman who will not sit on the sidelines, content to watch the young girls have all the fun.

My Time is now. How about you?

Posted by Mandy Crest, Blogger for Women Over 40 Rock! and In The Trenches Productions


Actresses who actually look like real women!

Whether its because I am now a 65 year old actress, or whether by chance, I have suddenly noticed a spate of older actresses who…could it be?…actually look their age instead of 22! – I was at a screening of “Gone Baby Gone” the other day, and there was Amy Madigan looking like a middle-aged woman. That was followed by a screening of “Atonement”…and there was Vanessa Redgrave looking like an older woman. Then last night I was watching “Law & Order SVU” and there was the actress who plays the character Elliot’s wife (forgive me, I’ve forgotten her name), looking like a woman hitting her 40s…and then I noticed that the other women on that show – Mariska Hargitay, Judith Light…all of them, while looking good, also look REAL! Good for them!!!! And I hope, whether its because I’m now 65 and noticing these things more or not, that I continue to be able to chalk up tv shows and movies that treat the female characters as they have always treated the male characters…and allow them to be REAL human beings who actually progress beyond the age of 22! My heartfelt thanks to them all and to the actresses, who, even if they have had some facial work done, want to remain looking human. Thanks, ladies!
Judith, 65 & proud of it, Drake, Blogger for Women Over40 Rock/In the Trenches Productions

Published in: on November 23, 2007 at 9:46 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Rudest Question

Whenever I have a doctor’s appointment I anticipate a certain amount of discomfort and embarrassment. But should that begin in the waiting room? Two of my doctors are connected with a large university facility and to confirm your identity, you have to announce your date of birth in the waiting room. This strikes me as rather cruel. Waiting rooms are small and oddly intimate spaces. The first time I was asked, I put on my best Tennessee Williams accent and said, “Why darling, don’t you know it is bad manners to ask a lady her age?” The receptionist stared vacantly at me and flatly repeated the question. During subsequent visits I have taken to quickly saying my numbers, then slinking to the nearest seat, feeling the eyes of the other patients stealing glances at me. As other patients come in, I am guilty of the same age assessment game, surreptitiously peering out from behind Newsweek – gee, someone looks a lot older than 60!

At my last appointment, I was ready for the age question and simply held up an index card with my date of birth. The receptionist laughed and then told me about a patient who responded to the dreaded date of birth question, by shooing her husband to the farthest corner of the waiting room before whispering her numbers. Ridiculous? Not really. I know a number of women who’ve never told their husbands their age. I don’t know the exact age of most of my women friends. One night over drinks, a friend who’d kept her age a closely guarded secret, revealed her DOB. I was flattered; I felt like family. She said she’d told so many lies about her age that to remember her actual age she had to stop and do the math.

The bigger issue, aside from UCLA changing their nasty way of identifying patients, is why after 50, no one wants to admit their true age. For most people over 50, every birthday is their 30th. The other day I heard a very bright progressive radio talk show host ruefully commenting that her birthday was approaching and she’d be 30 – again. We try to comfort ourselves with bromides like “50 is the new 30” and “60 is the new 40”. I asked an 80 year old friend if 80 was the new 60. He replied, “No, 80 is 80.’ Well said. Maybe by the time we get to 80 we can start wearing our age as a badge of honor. Maybe it takes getting to 80 to stop playing foolish ego games regarding age.

But when you start admitting your age, will people view you differently? What I certainly fear about aging is that I will no longer be relevant, that my ideas will seem hopelessly old school. I work part time in an office where I am definitely the oldest on the staff. So far I haven’t felt any age discrimination from my younger co-workers. In fact, I enjoy all of them especially a 25 year old young woman. I could tell from our conversations that I was older than her mother. The other day we were talking about something in my past, and I off-handedly mentioned my true age, which I’d been careful to obscure. She blinked many times, and turned ashen. As I rushed to get her water, she said, “Wow, you don’t look your age.” I couldn’t tell whether she was shocked because I was that old or, horror of horrors, that young. To her credit, not long after that incident we went to see a play together and afterward went to a bar where I got CARDED. I asked the bouncer if it was seniors’ night and if I was entitled to a discount. The bouncer took one look at my license and practically threw it back to me. I’ll take his dismissive behavior over the movie ticket gal who gave me the senior discount without my asking for it! Ouch – that hurt. But I digress. I had a lively evening with my young friend and we’re planning another girl’s night out. For me, I felt incredibly free. I no longer needed to disguise dates from my past to prevent her from determining my age. So, how old am I? Well, I was born after WWII but I missed being a baby boomer by 5 months.
Now it’s your turn to do the math.

Jan Bina – still not ready to admit her exact age to the world.
In The Trenches Productions

Published in: on October 6, 2007 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment