I’m getting old. As the mirror, endless Zoom video conferences, and my 9-year old son all like to remind me.
I’m going to turn 48 in a few weeks. And even though the life expectancy in my family is around 88, I’m still on the older side of middle age.
But must “old” be the incriminating label it is often meant to be?
Because this — at exactly this age, at precisely this weight, with every one of these gray hairs — is what a goddess looks like.
A few years after we worked together, I reached out to one of my former clients, Carey. I wanted to know how things were going for her in terms of what we had been working on — feeling comfortable in her own skin, powerful, whole, alive, and in touch with her sensuality.
From the outside, things looked good: her business was growing impressively, she’d met a great guy she’d go on to marry, and instead of dreading her on-stage appearances, she was enjoying them. Carey told me:
“Let me tell you this story that illustrates just how much I have incorporated my sensual energy into my life and how much I feel at home and powerful in my body.
“A couple of months ago, I was walking through the airport with a little time before my next flight. As I sauntered to my gate, wearing flats and no makeup, about 20 pounds over my normal weight, feeling happy in my skin, I saw a tall, handsome man noticing me, quite, shall we say, appreciatively.
“I wasn’t in the mood to stop and engage, but I gave him a glance to thank him, and internally I said to myself, ‘That’s right. This is what a goddess looks like. Enjoy the view.’”
That’s right. This is what a goddess looks like. Enjoy the view.
“Old” is often code, like “fat,” “ugly,” “bitch,” and “slut” are, as well — code for unlovable, unlikeable, unworthy, irrelevant, disposable.
Conversely, “young,” “pretty,” “pleasing,” and “thin” (or “thick,” depending on your culture), are codes for a loveable, valuable, real-life goddess.
But I gotta tell you, when I was in my 20s, weighed 94 pounds, and was modeling here and there, I constantly felt “fat,” “ugly,” and was worried about being “old.”
So if I don’t look in the mirror (or my little video square) and see the face of the goddess looking back at me, well then, what in the feminine genius am I (or any of us) doing?
This is what a goddess looks like. Enjoy the view.
This is exactly what I — and each of us — MUST be saying when we look at ourselves or as others look at us.
I mean, come ON.
Do we really think that the Universe is so stingy that there is only one prototype for a goddess? No, my fellow goddess! We live in a world of rich, unfathomable diversity. We need thousands and millions and billions of different versions of the goddess.
We need your unique goddess expression, at exactly your age, at precisely your weight, with every one of your gray hairs.
I know it’s easy to look at a friend and think she’s absolutely bonkers for not noticing her goddessliness. And I know that it’s quite another thing to look at yourself with the same kind of goddessly gaze.
Just because dominant culture teaches us all to look at women with an absurdly narrow gaze, doesn’t mean we should be likewise obedient.
I know it’s hard. It’s hard for me too.
But if we do not strip code words like “old” and “fat” of their poison, who do we expect will?
No, this is ours to do. Yours, mine, ours. One mirror gaze at a time.