As a 20-something who is constantly looking to women older and wiser than I for mentorship, support and guidance I was struck by the utter brilliance of Christina Vuleta's website 40:20 vision. 40:20 Vision is "an experiment in sharing the wisdom of 40-something women with 20-something women." With everything from advice on relationships, careers and body image, the site is a godsend for those of us looking for a little bit of guidance. She agreed to answer some questions for Guiltless and her responses and advice were so detailed and wonderful I just HAD to split it into two segments. Read on for part I:
Q. What changes take place in the mind of a women who is looking in the mirror as she grows from 20 something to 40 something? How do our perceptions of our bodies change?
20s; Wow…there are some bones under that freshman 15.
30s: Hello under eye circles. Let’s call them bedroom eyes.
40s: Hello lines….is that me?
There’s definitely a moment when you see the first line and it seems like the Grand Canyon has appeared on your forehead with a big sign pointing to it that says….hello, I’m getting older! You think it’s huge. No one else even notices it. You might not even notice it until you have to start wearing glasses (another thing that kicks in at 40 even if you had 20/20 vision) and then…OMG you see a road map on your face. It’s a moment of awakening.
The thing is we don’t feel any different on the inside...and these little wrinkles are wake up call to the aging process…something you can’t control. So you go through a little bit of a freak out… and then you can turn left or right.
Left: You don’t worry about it and realize that it’s part of life and just a part of you. You take care of yourself, eat well moisturize, exfoliate and use a little retin A, and no more “maybe a little sun is okay” moments.
Right: You do everything you can to fight it. You go through a whole new stage of experimenting with skincare trying to find the magic answer. Perhaps engaging in a little help from botox or looking into all the new options out there. Let’s just say moderation is key. You notice it way more than other people do. Does your partner love you any less? Do your friends like you any better? It’s really only about what makes you feel better. So whatever you do, do it for yourself not someone else!
On the whole we become a little more accepting and embracing of who we are as we get older. We’re more forgiving of our flaws. We learn to live with what when we loathed when we were younger. Mostly it’s about confidence.
What gives you confidence is taking charge of your body. So many of the women I talk to feel stronger, more beautiful and sexier than they did at 20. It’s about the whole package and your mindset. Fitness knows no age. Inner beauty is not a number. When you’re strong and fit you do feel empowered and as cliché as it sounds, it shows. There’s a transition in your early 30s for some, and early 40s for others where you realize you just can’t eat the way you used to anymore. It’s harder to eat anything in sight and not see the effects. You can either get depressed by that and hate yourself and start a negative cycle of over-eating, feeling bad about yourself, getting depressed, and over-eating. Or you can work hard (work on yourself) and develop a healthy body and mind that will sustain you through your 30s and 40s and beyond. That’s a whole different cycle. Eat better, feel better, workout better, feel better. And with that comes the confidence. When you’re confident you don’t care so much about that flaw that rendered you self conscious and insecure 10 years ago. You develop a different kind of beauty that’s more powerful.
This 40-something woman has a great take on how it goes:
“You realize as you get older the people you enjoy hanging around with. whether they be your spouse or your girl friends, whoever they are… you didn't choose them because of how they looked or because the size of their waist. I truly believe people should not let themselves get outside of some range of what is healthy and you have these extremes on either end. Then once you're in that range, you're going to have like bigger legs and so and so is going to have beautiful hands. This one is going to have hair that grays early. That’s just the way it’s going to be. So once you’re in the range of you keeping healthy, try to let go a little bit.”
Some women also the fear of the loss of desire or attraction to partners or potential mate as they show signs of aging. Is it really a natural drive for men to be drawn to pursue a more youthful (see child-bearing) ideal. But that’s not always the case. Look at Susan Sarandon for example. The confidence gained also means being comfortable in your sexuality. At 40, you are also more at peace with yourself…so that fear of not having a man may become less important as well. If you want to be with someone you probably will. It will all be okay.
Q. What do you love about your body as a 40 something that you didn't love so much as a 20 something?
The most confident women I know “own it”. They have come to terms with their body and have learned to know what works and what doesn’t and then get on with it. The parts may become less important. Personally, I can finally say I like my bum after a lifelong battle against it. When my mom was born the nurse said, “My what a big butt this baby has”. Suffice it to say I inherited this. Perhaps my eyes were bigger than my rear…I was very self-conscious about it. No amount of squats changed it. Although I think Pilates helped! Then one day I realized it wasn’t that big of a deal. Now I love it and it’s just a part of me. I guess it’s my own version of love handles! And in truth being in good physical shape overall made it less of an issue. Thanks to working out by doing things I like to do, I became more aware of my body’s power. It’s not just going through the motions…it’s doing it because you like the way it feels. Just like eating, experiment with working out to find something you like doing if you can. You don’t have to be a marathon runner. It’s just about getting your body moving and feeling alive. I think that’s where the forgiveness comes in. Love yourself and I believe more love will come your way no matter your shape, size or body foil. When you love yourself, you take better care of yourself and you’re more comfortable in your skin no matter what. This woman offers some wonderful insight on her journey to loving your body.
“I’m not sure I loved anything about myself when I was 20. I was so wrapped up in trying to look like other women (which in most cases was unattainable) and what other people (mainly men) thought of me. There was so much wasted energy worrying about things no one really noticed. When you are older, you realize that men, too, are going through the same issues and really don’t notice that you got your eyebrows waxed or (gasp!) gained 2 lbs!
When you start feeling more self-confident about your looks after many mistakes and some success, you start liking the way you look and feeling more comfortable in your own skin. You start recognizing your potential and you are happy (happier?). Then you become more appealing to others. Nothing is less appealing than low self-confidence and a negative self- image!
I like my body now way more than when I was 20 but it was a long road of self-exploration, exercise, experimentation and loads of mistakes! I now have come to grips with the fact that in order to stay fit, i must exercise, eat well and make healthy choices. It sounds so simple, but it has taken me years to embrace.”
What is 1 thing you wish you could tell yourself 5 years ago?