I took this Instagram "selfie" not long after I turned 42 years old, earlier this year.
You can see my laugh lines coming in. You can see the "natural highlights" of silver appearing around my hairline. This is maturity and - guess what - this is perfectly okay.
I'm not ashamed of sharing my age. I don't say I'm "29, again!" with a laugh. I don't even say "40-something" - I'm 42 and I'm glad for it.
Aside from the obvious joy of just seeing 42 years of age (see previous blog), there's a real understanding and pride that I'm taking ownership in these more "advanced years" than I have before.
If you look around the world of fashion or beauty - or do a search for beauty bloggers - you'll find that most of them are young and cater to young women. Makeup tutorials and haul reviews on YouTube are rich with the twenty-something who share another smokey eye or they talk through their mounds of products that, may be great for them, but that same smokey eye or matte lip will make me look sickly or like I'm just "another older woman who's trying too hard".
Comedian Amy Schumer had a bit in one of her show's episodes featuring many over 40 Hollywood ladies in a bit titled "Last f*ckable day" (see video on right - Uncensored so probably NSFW) where they discussed how their age magically and instantaneously transports them into a purgatory where they can no longer be considered a love interest.
While a comedy routine, it touches a real truth...
It's as if we women are expected to turn into something disposable after crossing the line of 40 years old. Many companies follow suit in that mentality by not understanding that we're still female humans after 40.
Not only are we ladies still alive and kicking and fully female after 40, we make up 62% of the over 40 population. Do you hear that beauty companies?
There are, reportedly, 78 MILLION of us over-40 ladies walking around. Even more importantly to you advertisers, we 78 million ladies influence over 80% of the purchasing power out there.
Think about it - much like in my own life, women over 40 have children who are older or grown and moving on. These women (like me) work a lot and provide a good amount of work outside and inside of the home. We make up the lion's share of volunteers and philanthropists. We are also rather vocal in increasingly diverse ways, using social media, political platforms and show business to be heard.
Many of us have been divorced and no longer have to answer to why we choose to spend our discretionary income the way that we do and - truth be told - we don't care to. We're categorically more sure in who we are and what we want. There's even scientific studies on that.
I know it to be true for me.
Without a doubt, I am a more whole, organic me at this age than I have ever been in years before. I tell my young lady friends that the eyes they see with at 40 are very different from the eyes they see with at 20. We've lived through some tough times and we've come out of all of it more confident and a lot less timid with our opinions than before.
So why are there so few of us representing beauty that works for us?
I mean - real beauty talk. Not just the anti-aging or "here's how you can look like you're 20" stuff - but the "hey, I'm 40 and it's totally okay. Here's a tip or product for us."
I believe that companies have a real fear of merging "beauty" with "over 40" without it being all about anti-aging. I'm here to tell you that it's okay and, even, welcomed.
Maybe they believe that we all want to be 20 and that couldn't be further from the truth.
Neither myself or any of my over 40 lady friends wish to be 20 again. We just want to know what works for us which is why I do what I can to be transparent with my routines or products I try and I won't skip around facts like how it fares with a bad hot flash day or crying through your youngest child moving out.
Are companies getting a little better? Absolutely.
We still have a ways to go, though.
We're all fully aware of our age. We're also fully aware of the changes that have happened and will happen.
No gimmicks. No need to come at us with "first, take these shots and do this surgery to get a younger face then we can talk on how to makeup said face."
We don't need to be patronized or condescended to.
Most of all, don't ignore us. The trends show that we won't let you.
“I'm not opposed to aging - even though society is kinder on men than women when it comes to getting old. How can I look at aging as the enemy? It happens whether I like it or not and no one is set apart from growing old; it comes to us all. Youth passes from everyone, so why deny it? I'm proud of my age. I'm proud that I've survived this planet for as long as I have, and should I end up withered, wrinkled and with a lifetime of great wisdom, I'll trade the few years of youth for the sophistication of a great mind...for however long it lasts.” - Donna Lynn Hope