Paulina Porizkova is all about aging out loud on her Instagram feed, and I’m grateful for it. The more midlife female faces on social media, the better. And unlike some other celebs (ahem, Jennifer Lopez), her face actually shows normal signs of age. Still, she has a jaw-dropping supermodel body, as seen here in this ad for Laura Geller Beauty.
Seriously, it’s incredible—not exactly run-of-the-mill. So, how do we process this as mortal midlifers? My own reaction to the ad was telling. It was a peek into my subconscious and how my exposure to the media’s portrayal of women’s bodies in my five-plus decades of life constantly influenced my thinking, like it or not.
(I’m especially looking at you, ’80s media, with your aerobics mania and anorexia trend. Oh, and you, too, ’90s, with your heroin chic. And oh my god, you, early 2000’s, with those extreme low-rise jeans. I mean, come on.)
Reacting to the Laura Geller ad, I posted a question on my social media: “How does watching Porizkova in this ad make you feel?” I posed two answers: 1. Empowered? 2. Like a slacker?
“Instead, I Lamented”
In response to the quiz, Linda Fahey, founder of Yonder Shop and subject of an excellent episode of my podcast, The Mean Show, replied, “What do you mean, slacker?” And indeed, what did I mean by slacker? Linda’s question made me recognize that my tendency to self-flagellate had reared its ugly head.
Truth be told, deep down, I believe that being a slacker is the reason why I don’t look like a supermodel. Ha! As if my DNA is not dictating my 5’4″ frame and substantial thighs. As if I hadn’t lived in a body with non-supermodel-like qualities my entire adult life—even when I was running in multiple marathons.
After so many years of trying and (I thought) learning not to beat myself up so much, my brain still thinks I look the way I do because I’m lazy. The middle-aged brain doesn’t explain the reasons why it thinks these things. It just thinks the things. That’s why intelligent, outspoken friends, and in my case, readers and therapists are essential.
After all, here I am, publishing an online publication that purports to be feminist and pro-aging. Embrace it all, F the haters, and most of all, be comfortable in your skin. Yet, my brain fired none of those empowered-midlifer neurons. Instead, I lamented how much weight I’ve gained in the past few years and how I’m such a slacker for not doing enough to look like Paulina Porizkova.
I mean, it’s silly. But here we are.
Power To The Pretty Okay
So, let’s take a good look at the Laura Geller “Let’s Get Old Together” campaign that created the seed of these midlife musings. The brand devotes an entire page of its website to images and videos of an unretouched Porizkova discussing realistic aging. She has wrinkles, puffy eyes, and a creepy neck, and it’s so uncommon that it’s jarring.
For me, and I’m guessing many of you, jarring in a good way. Power to Paulina for allowing her face to age naturally. But maybe we should demand that she get an old, creaky, bumpy body? Just kidding.
Power to all the midlifers out there whose “power surges” don’t exactly provide a recharge. (If you haven’t heard, some people call hot flashes power surges.) The real power comes from pushing past our insecurities, recognizing where they come from, and supporting each other, despite it all.
So, thanks to Linda, Paulina, and all the Suggest readers and friends who help me stay sane while navigating midlife. I’m glad we had this chat.
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