Growing Older and Standing up Straight
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Have you seen the new MORE magazine cover? It shows Jane Fonda, Sharon Stone, and Tea Leoni. It's sobering to realize that Stone and Leoni are in their 50s and 40s, respectively, as they both look great and defy what you'd assume a woman in or approaching middle age should look like. (I'm almost 45, older than Leoni, so I can say that!) Of course, they have money, time, and trainers, and I don't begrudge them any of those -- maybe their beauty will help the entertainment industry continue adding more sensual and interesting female characters that I can relate to in television and movies.
As for Jane Fonda, I showed the magazine cover to my son and asked how old she is. "Fifty?" he asked. She's 70. THAT'S what I want to look like when I'm 70.
And it's not all vanity. Remember in the 80s, when Cher was one of those celebrities producing workout videos? At that time, she said something like the following: I see women in their 80s all hunched over and shuffling, and I don't want to be like that -- I want to do what I can NOW so that I increase, as much as possible, my chances that I'll be walking straight in my 70s, 80s, and 90s. People on my mother's side of the family live well into their 90s; I'd like to make the best of it and be able to take daily walks, like my 90-something-year-old Tante Elisabeth still can.
Still on the subjects of MORE magazine and standing up straight, but not on the exact same subject -- I was reading MORE in a doctor's waiting room yesterday and came across this article about physical psychotherapy. It was intriguing enough that I'd like to pick up a copy of the magazine, or at least read more about this. As I understand it from my limited exposure, that branch of psychotherapy focuses in on physical manifestations of our emotional responses to stimuli. In the article, a woman was being interviewed about a relationship that was very draining on her emotionally, and as she spoke, her shoulders curled in, and she began to hunch over. A posture that, instinctively, is meant to protect our most vulnerable parts (think, also, of a dog putting his tail between his legs -- it's instinct to protect yourself, even when you don't always need to.) Perhaps the physical movements were imperceptible to others, but they were obvious to the professional, and I know the feeling -- my ex-husband and, sometimes, the person I talked about in my previous blog have this effect on me.
In the article, the woman was told to sit up tall and straighten her shoulders, a stronger posture. And although the stronger posture made her more physically vulnerable in some ways (she was no longer protecting herself), it gave her the strength to protect herself emotionally and hold off the enemy, so to speak.
I need to do that. And I suspect others on this site need to do that, also, so that's why I'm sharing. We need to stand up straight and then make sure we can continue to do so for the rest of our lives.