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Category: Women Date: 13 Feb 05


“Look at the face of any woman over 35, really look,” said the woman who could have been on either side of her thirties. She is articulate, educated, independent. She trailed off. “What do you mean?” I asked, intensely curious. She didn’t finish the sentence but gave me a look that I understood.


We didn’t even need to have our ensuring conversation. The look said it all. We met them everyday. Unhappy women over 35. For all the usual reasons. Because they hung their hats on the most coveted but treacherous of possessions. Youth. It passes. Beauty. It fades. If you’re trading in that currency, once it goes, you’re on your own. And your meal ticket with it. So their mouths down turned, they look on as their men chase another young rainbow, a sleeker pair of legs. And agonise. Because of course they grew to love the meal ticket, and of course they had his children. And now in their late thirties life has put its giant clamp around them which ironically strips them of their former currency. The unsexy world of responsibilities. Mortgages, children to educate, jobs to hold, homes to run, groceries to cook, marriages to hold together.


With no time to hit the gym, the ravages of the ballooning and deflating of the female body with childbirth, a slowing metabolism, the children’s left over macaroni and KFC (quick food, where’s the time?) goes straight to the stomach, hips and thighs creating swirls of cellulite. This insidious transformation takes place overnight even as you inhabit your body. No watchfulness can stop it. Women over 35 don’t have time to reflect and understand that the reason the fairy story ends with a wedding is because that’s when the clamp pinions women.


There are women who’ve cut away the steel clamp, avoided the perpetually down turned mouth of disappointment and betrayal from life, from themselves, from their marriages. We recognise them as well by their glow. These are women who put themselves first.


Terrible advice, you say. Churches and Pundits call on women to sacrifice, to be the wretched of the earth and call that “good.”


But that’s so that men can continue to have their cake and eat it too. That’s so they can go off when they are frightened by their middle-aged paunches and pretend to be young again with a brand new family.


The women who glow after 35 are the ones who’ve preserved their 18-year-old selves protect their core from the clamp with the wild sense of possibility, that energy, by curiosity, by putting themselves first.


They do their duty by husbands jobs and children, but carve out the time perhaps long before the day has begun for everyone else, to go to the gym, study for the degree they’ve always wanted, to spend time alone reading. They preserve their sense of self by maintaining their economic independence (save save save, in a private account from the day they get their first pay check)


They cut corners here and there so they can find some time for their girlfriends who affirm them and see their lovely maturing selves, their new comfortable in their own skin selves. They laugh. They forgo buying household items, and instead use that money to prop themselves up with new necessities—fruit, vegetables, a sports bra, vitamins. They take loans and travel—jumpstart their brains and hearts with new worlds.


A recent article in the UK’s Guardian Weekly speaks wonderingly about the fact that older women are making it big and all because they have attitude. So Cindy Crawford, 39, is on the cover of British Vogue. Madonna (46) is the new face of Versace. Nicole Kidman, 38, is Chanels new face. Sure they are rich and famous so they have it easier. But they’ve beaten the young rich and famous. Why? Because it’s always all about themselves.


This is a call to women over 35. Make it all about you and cut the clamp. It can take the saddest face and rejuvenate it like no man, cosmetic or bank balance can.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur