body positivity

If you’re feeling less than great about your body beyond your 40s, you’re not alone. In addition to the article that I recently wrote about self-love, I am writing this one about body positivity when you’re older.  #Bodypositivity

When I use to think of the term “body positivity”, my mind often conjured up images of plus-size women doing their thing and giving no effs about the fact that they do not meet the “right dress size”. But the global rally to ‘love the body you’re in’ is about so much more than just embracing the idea that beauty has no weight limit.

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An individual’s introduction to body positivism can be very personal. Learning to love yourself AND accept your body without wanting to change it are both very important. I’m talking age positive, sex positive, gender-inclusive and body positive. Body Positivity is the notion that all bodies are equal. That’s it. Nothing crazy, just the simple notion that all bodies are deserving of the same love, respect and admiration. Young bodies, fat bodies, tall bodies, large bodies, small bodies and old(er) bodies are all equal.

So let’s take women of my age – 40 plus – why do many of us feel that life is going downhill because our bodies are aging. Why is it so tough for women to be positive about our bodies after a certain age? For example my body changed a lot after I got pregnant and gave birth to my son shortly after my 40s birthday, and it never changed back to the way it was before. Why should I not be extremely proud of my body for carrying my son for 9 months instead of being disappointed that it got older.

Self criticism was high on my complain list for a number of years but nowadays I try to look at myself with softer eyes.

How do I see myself? Honestly, it took me a while to get used to my new “older body”. The first signs of aging I have not applauded, let me put it that way… For the past 15 years I worked with fashion models that seem to get younger and younger (in reality I was getting older and older…). Mainly because I constantly compared myself to the young models I was working with, self criticism was high on my complain list for a number of years but nowadays I try to look at myself with softer eyes. I worked in the fashion and beauty industry for what seems like forever, and by now we all know how profound the influence of the (social) media on young women’s mood and body image satisfaction is. The way we learn to look at ourselves when we are young women is difficult to change as we get older.

Let’s take the magazines and catwalks, showing clothes worn by really young models, clothes that are meant for women like me. Editors and designers whose products are largely aimed for women over 40 (who have a disposable incomes), but using really young models for editorials and campains, models with bodies that I can never compete with. I will always fail in relation to the pictures in magazines (the pictures I made for many years), to begin with my age left alone the condition of my body.

Beside the magazines and catwalks, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are a big part of our lives. They are playing a large central role in the lives of adolescent girls and young women (being the primary users of such platforms) but also adult women, its influence on body image and the perception of beauty continues to grow. Thanks to a wide range of apps, such as Photoshop and FaceTune, we can change the way our bodies look in photos with a swipe or a click. To cover up our imperfections like blemishes, alter our facial shapes, and manipulate our bodies to look thinner and more attractive. Alarming behavour? Yes, for many (young) women (and men) it is. We can see the negative effect that social media can have on self-esteem and it’s therefore important to remember who we really are, stop comparing ourselves to others and love our beautiful bodies just the way we are.

How to stay positive about your body.

Body Positivity is not about letting yourself completely go and don’t give a damn about how you look. It’s about accepting your beautiful self as you are. Best way to do this is to become your own best friend and ditch the glossy magazines or social media accounts if they continue to make you feel bad about yourself. Treat your body like you care about it by giving it exercise and eating foods that make it feel good. This isn’t to say you should go on a super-restrictive diet that makes you equally full of kale and misery. It’s about showing appreciation for what you have by taking care of it with nutritious foods that give you energy, taste good, and don’t make you hate yourself afterward.

Another thing that can make you feel good is NOT to dress “for your age”, whatever “dressing for your age” means. Dress for YOU.

Another thing that can make you feel good is NOT to dress “for your age”, whatever “dressing for your age” means. Dress for YOU. Dress what YOU like. By now you’ve probably developed your own personal style, so find clothes that make you feel like yourself and that make you feel good. Like that you’ll get a reminder every time you look in the mirror and rock your favourite outfit. Remember that as bodies change and grow, from puberty to pregnancy and beyond, stretch marks and cellulite can start to appear, and many people feel self-conscious about it. However, virtually all people have stretch marks and cellulite! So also rock that bikini and know that you’re in good company (I’m there… :)).

Be body positive about your wrinkles: think of them as expression lines, how many times you’ve laughed or frowned or smiled. Taking care of the skin you’re in is a really easy way to practice body positivity. Break out your favourite masks and serums, but don’t forget body scrubs and body butters as well! Just like fashion, makeup is an amazing way to express yourself and play up the features you love. If you’ve always admired but been uncertain of a bold lip or smokey eye, try it out. It’s just makeup, after all, and anyone can wear anything they want!

An important step to re-shape your self image is to change your social media feed and follow body positive, age positive or whatever positive accounts that illustrate body diversity. Seeing greater representation helps to normalize the perception of different people or different ages, instead of seeing one as superior to another. Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to make yourself feel bad. If it helps, remember that there are people out there comparing themselves to you and feeling bad about it. But it’s best to stop thinking that way entirely.

The old saying is true: we’re our own worst critics. It’s easy to spiral into negative, critical thoughts about the way we look. Be kind to yourself by being as positive as possible. It may be difficult at first, so when you have a negative thought about yourself, it might be helpful to ask yourself, “would I talk to my loved ones the way I talk to myself?”. If the answer is no, go a little easier on yourself and maybe pay yourself a compliment. And how about receiving a compliment from a friend or compleet stranger? We’re all taught to be modest, but sometimes modesty can go too far. If your natural reaction to a compliment is to criticize yourself, try to break the habit with a simple “THANK YOU!”. It can be hard, but learning to accept compliments can help you change the way you see and think about yourself.

Still with age comes wisdom, and some research finds women 50 years and older are more appreciative of their bodies than younger women. Apparently women make a turning point in their lives, often around the age of 50, where they can (or maybe they have to) accept their bodies. But instead of waiting for that to happen let’s focus on our body positivity and unlearn the idea that only young bodies are worth acceptance and praise, and instead, recognizing that all bodies are equally valuable, especially the ones that lived life.

Dress and glasses by Monki


This community originated from my love for photography, fashion, lifestyle, and consciousness. After I turned 40 I started to miss inspiring websites with coolness and authenticity towards aging.