2020 ushered in new era of hyper awareness. People become acutely aware what was going on around them, which had profound effects on their mental health. The year couldn't have been more of a disaster! The pandemic, black lives matter, wars, civil unrest, human rights violations, and the effects of global warming (just to name a few). Somehow we all silently knew that nothing would ever be the same. But with all this unrest and instability, came new coping mechanisms.
Very early in the pandemic, #selfcare started trending. People became more transparent about how they were feeling. Many of us were struggling and looking for a way out. Personally I was struggling to cope. I felt trapped in my apartment far away from the people I cared about. I was worried about my future, my loved ones, and the state of the world. Three lockdowns in Paris didn't help either. I was like a caged animal searching for a way out. And as the days passed, it became harder to exercise patience. My life was at a standstill, and I could feel the weight bearing down on shoulders.
Before the pandemic started, I was always on the go. Work, work, work. I didn't know when to rest. I just kept going and going until I was burnt out. Once I was out of commission, then and only then would I stop to take care of myself.
Now there was this new thing called self-care. I had to learn in a new way. I started to put myself first. Slowly I began to realize that I would never be as happy and successful as I wanted to be unless I began to practice self-care. But what did self-care look like?
Self-care can be defined as taking the necessary steps to provide oneself with psychological well being. That may look different for everyone, and manifest itself in different ways. According to the World Health Organization, self-care is defined as "a broad concept which also encompasses hygiene (general and personal); nutrition (type and quality of food eaten); lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.); environmental factors (living conditions, social habits); socioeconomic factors (income level, cultural beliefs etc.); and self-medication."
What does self-care mean to you? And how have you implemented the practice of self care in your daily life?
HOW TO PRACTICE SELF CARE
There are many other ways to practice self-care. Implementing the correct self-care practices ultimately depends on what feels right to you, and what fits into your lifestyle. Creating healthy habits that foster our emotional and psychological wellbeing gives us a sense of serenity, and helps us to evolve. Supporting oneself by creating an environment of self-love is the key to healing the inner self. Self-care is not selfish but an act of self-love.
As women, we've been taught that beauty is synonymous with youth. Our subconscious minds have been subliminally programmed to believe that aging is undesirable, and women expire after a certain age. When women reach the forty plus category they are written off and given an automatic death sentence.
All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye we start to be cut off from the world we once new. Our faces aren’t seen in the media, goods and services are no longer marketed to us. It’s a kind of unspoken invisibility that leaves many us in a kind of vacuum, walking between life and death. We’re too old to wear mini skirts but not old enough to wear Depends.
There are so many negative connotations surrounding the word aging. A line, a wrinkle, weight gain, a bit of cellulite and grey hair are all associated with aging. It’s almost like a dirty little word that you shouldn’t say. God forbid you dare talk about getting old! It’s the subject of conversation that everyone avoids, yet secretly dreads; An almost taboo topic that occurs to each and every one of us.
Many women entering their forties struggle with their emotions, and finding their place during midlife. It can be destabilizing for some, even traumatizing. Women sometimes struggle to carve out a new path during their “journey” into midlife. But who said that entering midlife is a “journey”? Why can’t we just continue on the same road we’ve always traveled on, and be who we’ve always been? Why does society make it so hard for women to just be themselves?
As a woman over forty, you’re given a list of things that you can’t do. You can’t dress this way, wear this type of makeup, or do certain activities. Now we’ve become too old to do all the things we used to do. And to top it all off, there aren’t any products or services being marketed to us. So what are we supposed to wear? What beauty brands are we supposed to buy? When you look at beauty advertisements for anti-aging products, a twenty five year old woman is always used. The beauty industry and the media has done a fabulous job at making women over forty feel invisible.
If I relied on the beauty industry and the media to determine my self-worth, then I’d probably be a depressed person. I’ve had to mentally assert myself to rise above how society views women in midlife.
When I look in the mirror I see a young woman, because I feel young. Yes, I am aging (of course). But its about how I feel about myself. I am young because I feel young. And there isn’t a line, wrinkle or bit of cellulite that can make me feel differently! I don’t let the media dictate how I see myself.
I’ve always believed that you’re only as young as you feel. And if you feel good, then you’ll look good. It’s a a very simple formula! People who feel good about themselves are happier and make better decisions, because they love themselves. There is absolutely no reason for women to lose confidence because of a line or a wrinkle. It’s all about mindset. Entering midlife does not have to be a death sentence.
I know that it’s hard to fight against negative ideals that have been subliminally programmed into our brains for years. We’ve been programmed without our knowledge, and sometimes it can be difficult to fight against such indoctrination; especially when we’re looking in the mirror and the enemy we’re trying so hard to fight has become ourselves.
The real enemy is the beauty industry and all the negative marketing strategies that have been shoved down our throats. Defying years of negative indoctrination that has been subliminally programmed into our subconscious takes courage. Living your life free of fear, takes guts.
The beauty industry makes billions each year from fear mongering and creating insecurities. But once we step out of the shadow of fear and into the light, we’ve won the battle. I don’t think that the beauty industry would make as much money as it does if women were happier.
I listen to women of all ethnicities in different parts of the world on a daily basis. And quite frankly, it breaks my heart to hear women who have somehow lost their confidence and are living in fear, because they’re in midlife. A large part of my mission is to empower, celebrate, and change the way women in midlife view themselves. There is nothing wrong with aging, it's a fact of life. Ultimately the beauty industry needs to change its approach to aging, and stop instilling fear in Gen Z and Millennials.
But first and foremost, the change begins with us. By creating positive dialogues that are centered around aging and disrupting the industry, we can eliminate the fear of entering the forty plus category. It’s not about “anti-aging”, it’s about “pro-aging”.
Read: 40 Over Fashion. Is "Age Appropriate" Fashion A Thing Of The Past?