There has been some angst about the some of the pictures released from the shoot of the ‘Sex and the City’ sequel ‘And just like that’. The furore is about how these professional women who we first saw in their thirties, dressing stylishly and taking New York by storm, have aged! They are in their 50s, are still crushing it in their career, have raised children and rather than celebrating that, the focus surprise, surprise is on their wardrobe and their age.
Ageing well should be a matter of health and not because one’s profession or wardrobe requires it. Yet, women all over the world are constantly held to an impossible standard of looking a certain way regardless of what their health is doing.
As someone who works with working mothers, goodness knows they have got a lot on their plate. The juggle of career, children, relationships and taking care of one’s health is real. The last thing they need is the added pressure of looking like they have been frozen in time since their thirties. This pressure can lead some women to problems of lack of self-worth and confidence. Women need to focus on ageing well and stop trying to pour themselves into a frozen image of what they used to be. For those of you raising girls, this is also the small matter of you modelling a good self-image for them as they enter a world ready to judge them by their wardrobe.
Life expectancy in the 1900s was 32 years and by 2019 it had risen to 73 years. The fact remains that due to advances in medicine and technology, we are living longer. Before the anomaly of COVID, the disease burden had shifted from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. According to the World Health Organisation, these diseases were collectively responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide. These diseases are what we suffer from when we age.
The real problem facing us is how we get to age well, (wardrobe pressure notwithstanding) and to do that we have to live in a holistic way. It becomes an issue of lifestyle management, not just health. There is no point in living into your nineties if the quality of your life is poor and you become a burden on your children or the state. What we should be looking to do is to increase our health span to match our lifespan and give our poor kids a break.
Below are 4 ways to increase your health span:
- Eat well, eat for health rather than just to satisfy hunger. What you put in your body should look and taste good and do good when it is inside your body. Before you put anything into your mouth, ask yourself this question: Am I using my body as a dustbin?
- Exercise your body. It is not optional. Yes it helps you to look good but that is just a by-product. The real reason you exercise should be because you are built for movement and it helps your body perform better, not to mention helping you manage stress.
- Process your emotions. Your mental health contributes significantly to your wellbeing and therefore your health span. Learn how to manage your emotions. Know when to cut yourself some slack and show some self-compassion rather than just continually pushing yourself. Burnout is not a badge of honour and it is no fun for the people around you.
- Practise mindfulness or meditation. It gives you a chance to get out of your head and literally stop terrorising yourself with your own negativity and self-criticism.
The probability of living to 100 years has gone up to 1 in 3 so chances are we are all going to be hanging around here for a long time so it is important to enjoy the experience with healthy bodies. Our children don’t deserve to be saddled with decrepit parents.
For the women out there, whatever the pressure of of the juggle or societal expectations foisted on us to look a certain way, so long as you look and feel good in your body, that is; if you are increasing your health span, your wardrobe will take care of itself and your children will thank you.