The Other “F” Word

Three years ago I turned forty. I flipped out when it happened, even though I knew that the negative ideas about women hitting middle age are misogynistic and wrong.

Here are excerpts from my journal that I wrote in 2011 about this milestone age (Apparently I was watching a lot of Oprah back then):

  • Oprah says that hiding your age is like denying your existence. Yet I can’t help myself. At parties any time the topic of age comes up I find myself leaving the room and running to get a drink. If I come back and people are still talking about age, I get up again, this time to go look for ice. I don’t want to admit that I’m 40—especially living in Hollywood where it seems like everyone I know is 25.
  • I’d lower my age on Match.com if I wasn’t so opposed to lying. My ex-boyfriend says that a lot of guys who see my profile are writing me off right away just because the number “40” appears in my age box. It’s almost as if my age is my expiration date and I’ve turned into a carton of spoiled milk.
  • People who know my real age say that I look pretty good “for 40.” Still, there’s that caveat, “for 40,” as if “looking good” and “40” don’t usually go together.
  • I finally decided to stop checking my face in the mirror to see if any new wrinkles appeared overnight. I mean, what if by staring at myself under the blaring bathroom light, my forehead furrowed with worry, I’m making more wrinkles happen?
  • I watched Oprah’s Lifeclass on OWN. The episode was about celebrities on aging. Actresses Ally McGraw, 72, and Bo Derek, 53, talked about how their necks are now showing their age. I thought, Fuck! Really? The neck? The fucking neck? One more body part to worry about.

Entering middle age for a woman can feel scary in a society that places so much value on youth. Girls and younger women are objectified. Older women are mocked or treated as if they are invisible. And if a woman tries to hold on to her youth for too long, she too risks being ridiculed. It seems to me that the only way for any woman to escape this contempt is by dying young.

Psychologists and former models Vivian Diller and Jill Muir-Sukenis are the authors of Face It: What Women Really Feel Like as Their Looks Change say, “While individually we were taught that beauty is only skin deep, our youth-obsessed culture reinforces the notion that beauty is our currency, our power, and what makes us female.”

They write that millions of women are “surprised, and embarrassed, even” to discover that they care so much about their changing looks. Even “the first wrinkle or gray hair can send us into an emotional tailspin.”

Reading their book, I thought, I’m not the only woman my age feeling this way? Why don’t more of us talk about this? It would definitely make me feel less alone, neurotic, and superficial. Now I understand why there are women who feel like they have to get Botox shots or go under the knife. We’re taught to despise ourselves for getting older yet we look down at each other for wanting to look younger. 

At the Academy Awards this year, actress Kim Novak, 81, made a rare public appearance. Novak, who became a big star in her twenties, obviously doesn’t look like her younger self. But she does appear to have undergone some work.

The vitriol directed at her by men and women on social media for trying to look younger even though she is an old woman made me sick. I can only imagine how it made Novak feel. Then again, she probably would have gotten just as much heat if she’d walked onto the stage looking her age. I can see the headline now: Kim Novak, 81, actually looks 81!

About six months into being 40, I realized I had a choice to make. I could keep chastising myself for getting older, or I could stop buying into the messed up ideas around aging that I’d internalized. Considering that I’d spent most of my thirties waking up to who I really am and what I really want, I certainly didn’t want to fall asleep again under another sexist spell cast by the patriarchy.

At 41, I kicked my sugar habit and became the healthiest I’ve ever been. I also started writing my first book because I was finally ready. After 40 years of people pleasing, I stopped saying yes whenever I really mean no. I also stopped worrying about men who weren’t interested in me and started to pay attention to the men that I was interested in. Last year, I met the person that I want to grow old with. And even though I don’t look 23 anymore, or even 33, I love the way I look today at 43.

Selfie of a photo selfie 6/21/14

Selfie of a photo selfie 6/21/14

Still, I’d be lying if I said that I no longer panic whenever a new sign of aging makes an appearance. Just the other day I stressed out when I saw a gray hair fall out of my left eyebrow. I’d never even thought to worry about that body part.

But then I remembered that Sundance, my boyfriend’s cat, is white. I decided that he must have hovered over me while I slept and shed hair over my face. “Please let that be white cat hair and not my hair! Please let that be white cat hair and not my hair! I implored said eyebrow.

I must say that so far my forties are proving to be—to use yet another F-word—(pretty damn) Fabulous.

Road sign symbolizing life’s upswing in my forties.

 

 


70 Comments on “The Other “F” Word”

  1. Right on Diahann from another woman embracing the F word!

  2. Oh, to be in my forties again! Such a glorious decade for a woman. She’s just beginning to bloom into her beauty which will open up in her fifties. Sure, it’s the inside that counts and a beautiful woman inside shines through the acceptance of herself: in her face, the sparkle in her eyes. Don’t waste these years, Diahann, worrying about aging because one day you’ll look back and think Gosh I was so young and beautiful then. :)
    Note: that Selfie is a photo of a confident, beautiful woman. Be her!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you for the wise words, Carol. It’s really amazing how the 40’s are the beginning of so many things that couldn’t have possibly happened before then. I am also discovering that beauty, when liberated from the constricted ideals imposed by society has so many different faces, shapes, sizes, and ages. I also think that when women who have been 40, 50, etc. embrace the experience, it helps younger women look forward to rather than dread the prospect. Thank you again.

  3. Oh my goodness…. I spent half this post nodding with empathy, half shaking my head angrily, and the other half (math not my strong suit) head bobbing with laughter. (Cat paragraph hysterical! Thank goodness, I have a cuddly GRAY dog.) What a great piece, and so well done. Now one question– don’t I look “pretty good” (love how they always qualify good with the word “pretty”) for just turning 73 ??

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Stephanie!! Lol- yes-, “pretty good” Or, “you’re (insert age!) I can’t “believe” it, you look amazing! — like you are a creature from Ripley’s Believe it or Not. :)

  4. BroadBlogs says:

    When I hit forty I did the same thing. Started checking for wrinkles and was surprised at my reaction, since it goes against my feminist values. It helped me see some blind spots that I’m still dealing with.

    • diahannreyes says:

      It’s definitely interesting to discover the contradiction and good to unpack for sure. Also pretty profound to realize how the experience is so personal and collective.

  5. There’s a couple of getting old quotes that come to mind. “Getting old is the only way to live a long life.” And, darn. . . I can’t remember the other one.

  6. Diane Lansing says:

    Great and funny blog! Yes its a challenge, this aging process. No easy answers except to have purpose is the best way to say F#$**It!!!

  7. What an inspiring and much-needed post, Diahann! I’m going to send my sister a link to it. She will be turning 40 in just a few days and is feeling mopey about it. I think multitudes of women feel this same kind of pressure to look younger. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have a booming industry selling anti-aging elixirs and procedures. As for me, the only part I fear about aging is reaching the point where I’m no longer able to take care of myself. I feel that every year I grow older, I indeed grow wiser. I think of myself even five or 10 years ago, and I feel like I’ve learned so much since then. I have a better grasp of who I am now, and I’d never want to turn back the clock and relive my tumultuous teens and twenties. When I turned 30, I celebrated for a week.

    I don’t feel the same pressure that many other women experience to look and dress a certain way, because I realized early on in my life that despite my best efforts, I was never going to look like the pretty, popular girls at school. I entered an awkward phase during puberty that lasted through much of my teen years. I was regularly mocked for my looks, and so I developed a thick skin. When I entered my college years and began seriously dating, men put pressure on me to lose weight or dress a certain way. I felt like no matter what I did, I was never going to be thin/stylish/pretty enough. I realized I’d never be happy trying to fit someone’s ideal of a beautiful woman. I don’t fit the mold of what our society considers beautiful–in fact, my body seems to actively rebel against it. My hair is streaked with gray strands (and the gray began appearing in my early 20s!); my skin is either too dry or too oily, depending on the season or hormones; and I have an abundance of adipose tissue that seems content to stick with me regardless of how healthy my diet is or how much I move around. But there is an unbelievable freedom in not feeling compelled to meet that ideal society forces on us. I’m not criticizing anyone who does; we all have to do what’s best for us. But for me, I’m content to let my hair go completely gray. I’m content to grow older and develop wrinkles and liver spots. Our youth-obsessed culture is a sick one, when women are starving themselves and undergoing dangerous cosmetic procedures in order to feel accepted. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the poet Marge Piercy, but your post (and my comments) made me think of her poem “What Are Big Girls Made Of?” and I wanted to share the link here in case you haven’t read it. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/what-are-big-girls-made-of/

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with us, Diahann. (And sorry for my ultra long comment!)

    • diahannreyes says:

      Miranda, I really was struck by everything you wrote.Thank you. It sounds to me very much that you are someone who has liberated yourself from the constraints and are letting your wyld beauty come through. I love how you celebrated turning 30 for a week. And I really love this poem. Do you have a twitter or FB page? I’d love to tag you and share it. And please wish your sister a happy birthday and let her know that being a woman is about to get even better.

      • It’s a constant battle, Diahann, especially in this culture, but I try to be true to myself. I don’t have a FB author or page on there for my blog, but I have a personal page, and I was excited to learn of yours for From the Belly and am now following it on FB, and following you on Twitter. :) I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. It’s a favorite of mine. My sister has decided she’s going skydiving in honor of her 40th birthday, so I think she’s finally embracing it!

  8. Its not the years that count but the memories ,the deeds and tomorrows to plant a fruitful seeds.Happy birthday .I believe wisdom comes with every passing second.Jalal

  9. Faith Simone says:

    I’m 34 and I’m already starting to worry about aging. I’m blessed with good genes, so no wrinkles yet, but my major concern is FEELING old. I’ve noticed that I can’t act the way I did in my twenties when it comes to eating, sleeping, and excercising patterns because I feel the effects immediately! I love that you kicked your sugar habit in your forties and learned the power of no. I’m already comfortable with no, but sugar is still a battle. Thanks for the thought provoking article and you look great for any age. Keep owning that!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Faith! I totally get your fears, as you know :) I definitely think there is a unique process that each woman goes through with for herself.

      I will have to say that the moment I decided that 40 wasn’t going to be “the end” but the beginning for me, I started to feel young and energized again. It was as if – at least in my 40’s- feeling old was a choice I was making and I decided to choose differently. Although definitely, some feats, like living off a few hours sleep, are no longer possible).

      I love that you know your ‘no’s already, btw. That one took me a lot longer.

  10. Truly amazing…the dilemma but the acceptance as we are choice less in this mortal presence..

  11. aqilaqamar says:

    Reblogged this on Iconography ♠ Incomplete and commented:
    The problem is that people refuse to see older women as viable mates. Men, due to some biological cliche, have it good even in their sixties. It’s like if men were a geek in their 20s or 30s they can still make “dad” or “husband” at 60 with a much younger lady. Women, despite evidences against the contrary, are only attractive when they can get pregnant; though a women’s sexuality can be vigorous, voracious and tactile even in her 60s. But this factor is not taken into consideration. There are women who conceive after 40, 50 at times 60 but they are not recorded. Men’s biological accomplishments are recorded. Women’s are discarded. I feel that men take pride in thinking they are not the eruptive vessels forgetting that they are eruptive vessels each time they come or ejaculate or just plain orgasm. The problem is that we put biological warranties on people especially women. That’s very sad.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you for sharing with your community! I agree, sexuality for a woman especially can just get better and deeper the older we become and the more we know ourselves and our bodies. And you bring up some very interesting points about biology and how this can impact the dynamic between the sexes. Thanks for adding that to this conversation.

  12. Great post Dianne. 40 was really great for me. The best body I ever had was at 40. Now at the age of 52 I am going through a similar experience that you went through at 40. The body is different but so is the mind. And at 52 it seems that you don’t mind what is going on with the body. So it’s more of what is the alignment between what I think is ok at age 52 and what society is expecting at 52–since we seem to have this idea of everlasting youth for women. I think I am ready to stop dying my hair and that means allowing the grey–which according to one friend is “looking older”. Yup if people see gray they will think I am 62 not 52 because for the last 5 decades women have been covering up the grey—food for thought isn’t it?

    • diahannreyes says:

      Gracias, Ivonne. I am encouraged to know that at 52, I will even be more embracing of my body’s natural process of aging. I would love to know if you decide to stop dying your hair and how that ends up feeling for you. I’ve heard for some women it’s incredibly liberating and brings out this wyld beauty (inner and outer) for them.

  13. Ralph says:

    Hey ! Toy girl !! Have a great week my friend :D <3

  14. Elizabeth says:

    This piece reminds me of Gloria Steinem famously saying “this is what 40 looks like” when that annoying reporter told her that she didn’t look 40. Ever since I turned 40, I’ve been claiming my age. I throw it into conversation (when appropriate!) with men and women. I often get, “you don’t look 41!” and it’s all I can do to reply “this is what 41 looks like!”. Maybe next time, I will. ;-) And maybe more women will claim their age and move on, as you are. You’re terrific inspiration for doing so! Thanks.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Elizabeth. I love imagining you throwing in your age and letting people know “this is what 41 looks like” just by the simple inclusion of that number. And obviously if you threw that statement in, I think that would be just fabulous.

      I agree w/ you that it would be wonderful for women to claim their age. I know I would have really appreciated it if there were more women in their 40s, 50s and onward doing that when i was younger. It would have helped shift my perspective (Healing all around for everyone, I think.)

  15. Mae-Lin Leow says:

    It’s sad that Western culture devalues age in this way. I turned 30 this year, and considered I have not had an easy life, was actually proud to have made it this far! However I found people tip-toeing around my age, jokingly saying, “So you’re turning 29 again!” And things like that. I found it very strange, as if by refusing the acknowledge my age they were denying me what I felt to be the respect and credibility that should accompany increased age.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Mae-Lin, I love that you get that with each age can come more respect, credibility, and wisdom. I think it’s wonderful that you are holding that in you- for yourself and for everyone else whose eyes you open with that knowing.

  16. flippenblog says:

    Let me tell you if you add another 10 years it is not only the neck that you start looking at but also the knees, they go funny too. I also go into a tailspin with every birthday with a sickening zero at the end and then I make my peace, because I have to and because I cannot change it.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Elmarie, your comment about the knees made me laugh. I hadn’t even thought of that body part :) . You are so right- nothing we can do to change our date of birth. Your words made me think, perhaps the tailspin at the start of each decade is just par for the course and must just be gone through and embraced as well?!

  17. ledrakenoir says:

    Some things tend to take care of people hostage in relation to our surroundings – our work and our age – if it is a problem so often it is due to one’s own prejudices – both men and women come in the panic age, really a shame – I think it is one’s own perception spill on our environment and not so much the other way – we create an obstacle which then becomes a problem – … :-)

    There is much talk about whether size matters, I think it is equally important to take the discussion about whether age matters – whether it is age itself, or something in our heads – I understand well why younger men sometimes are attracted to a bit older women and younger women sometimes for a bit older men – these older men and women give some calm and can have more ‘confidence’ as we might lack in youth – if not those slightly older has been gripped by age of panic – personally so I see not a woman’s charm, beauty and sexual radiance – as age related, even sexuality starts between our ears… :-)

    • diahannreyes says:

      Great points, Drake! A lot of it does seem to be in our heads and in the expectations and ideals that society makes up. And I agree, we miss so much of what’s great about aging or anything when we get tripped up by what’s got us stuck in our heads.

  18. ninoalmendra says:

    Suddenly I stop and think of my age, then add 18 months to it to get the age of my wife. I was thinking how will I see her at 40?
    Then I remember Isabel Wolff on A Vintage Affair – “Lines don’t make beautiful women less beautiful”
    Now I don’t have to worry :)

  19. Katalina4 says:

    Thank goodness you’re gorgeous, it makes it easy for people to say “you look good for 40″ – just imagine if you weren’t!
    Was it just your birthday? I just had mine too. More and more I find it is most helpful to forget about the exteriors and recognize that the remaining years are about doing what I really want to do with my life – being increasingly healthy, but also increasingly productive. As much as my ego cringes at my increasing invisibility, there is way less distraction, it’s much easier to focus on getting stuff done. :)

    • diahannreyes says:

      Katalina, did you just turn 40? Happy birthday!! (Am 4 months into 43.) I’m with you in focusing more energy on fulfilling my desires rather than being the object of desire although sometimes the ego does still fight me about it. And isn’t it ironic – with “invisibility” I’ve never been able to see myself more clearly.

  20. You find me yet again with a grin, Diahann. We chicks really are damned if we do and damned if we don’t (try so hard to recover our tight skin, worry, etc), aren’t we? I think this is a little less of an issue in certain parts of the world. I find Asian and Asian-American women (Korean, esp) highly image-conscious and to that end, well primped and groomed down to the deepest layers of skin with all those expensive products. White people seem to care a little less, but it depends on the part of the country. But it’s still hard, comparing ourself to our old (younger) self.

    ” the only way for any woman to escape this contempt is by dying young.” Case in point, Marilyn Monroe.

    You seriously look just wonderful (enviably so). I know the transformation started from the inner person out and it’s been a remarkable three years, with the writing as well.

    Happy to be on your journey, Lovely One…
    Diana

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Diana! And yes, it’s definitely been an inward journey outward, thank you for being witness to that. For sure, about Asian culture and beauty, at least with Filipinos it’s a big deal as well. You can’t say hello to someone there without the instant response being- “you lost weight, you gained weight, you look good or (behind your back, ‘what happened to her- she got old). LOL.

      Always lovely and so appreciate your thoughts and comments, my friend. You currently hold the record on my blog as the reader with the most comments, btw. #grateful #thankyou.

  21. Tony Single says:

    I wonder if the patriarchy has done guys any favours either. I’m turning 42 this year, and it’s seriously depressing me. I have never been buff and manly like other guys, and my misshapen face is such a constant source of bitterness that I rarely look in a mirror or at pictures of George Clooney. I won’t age like a fine wine. Not like he has. God, I don’t know why I care about this so much. I wish I didn’t.

    All this to say that your latest post has moved me. Have I been objectified like women down through the centuries have been? Hardly. But I do wonder if guys go through a form of objectification too, something different but equally potentially damaging. I don’t know. I just know that I often don’t feel good about myself, and I should be able to.

    I’m glad you wrote this. People need to hear about these experiences, and to understand that we cannot continue to devalue ourselves or allow society to dehumanise us. “Stories from the belly” indeed.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Tony, I think the male experience of objectification is an important story that doesn’t get told, so thank you for naming that. Your words make me wonder if men don’t get to even talk about this generally because the skewed social expectation seems to be that men shouldn’t give a damn. Yet as you point out, there is damage happening and that needs to stop. (Btw- George C. wouldn’t look like George C. if he didn’t have access to the best and most expensive aestheticians and hair stylists and clothes designers and personal trainers in the world. Wow, so men are barraged with unrealistic ideals too. Such an important point that again hardly ever gets addressed out in the world). I really appreciate your honesty in sharing, Tony.

  22. Jenn Berney says:

    I find aging to be surreal. No matter how deep into my thirties I get, there’s still always a part of me that can’t believe I’m not 23 anymore. I laughed when I read what you wrote about necks. For some reason, my vainest fear is that I will grow a significant wattle.

    • diahannreyes says:

      The wattle?! :) I forgot about that body part. Your comment made me remember the tv show Ally McBeal,where one of the lawyers would only date women with wattles. (The other day, I discovered that the soles of the feet apparently get wrinkles too. :))

  23. SirenaTales says:

    Diahann, Thank you for another thoughtful and honest piece. Funny, isn’t it, how perspective changes the whole game? And how our choices about what influences our perspective are crucial. You remind me of the delightful, and wise, quote of the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou about turning 80: “Baaaaby, the 80s are hot! You want to try and make it there if you can.” And also the Rumi quote I have scrawled on my bathroom wall: “You suppose you are the trouble, But you are the cure. You suppose that you are the lock on the door, But you are the key that opens it. It’s too bad that you want to be someone else; You don’t see your own face, your own beauty. Yet, no face is more beautiful than yours.” Shine on, my friend. Xo

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Sirena, for your wise words. Yes- it’s amazing how changing the way the mindset really does change everything. It was like one moment life was ending as I knew it, the next moment, it was all about beginnings.

      I love both quotes- the former especially poignant in light of Dr. Angelou’s recent passing. And I love that the Rumi quote is actually scrawled on your bathroom wall. Makes me certain that your house must have lots of beautiful art and inspiring words and interesting looking furniture- almost like a magical hut inhabited by a magical woman. Am I right?!

      • SirenaTales says:

        Well, I love your impression of what my home is like–let’s just say it’s creative :). And, yes, my downstairs bathroom is rather unexpected, especially for a suburban home. When my older kids were little and money was especially tight to allow me to be home with them, I fell in love with a decorating magazine’s idea for having quotes written in calligraphy on a wall painted in ripples of color. At first, I was dejected by my inability to have that “look.” Then I came up with my low brow/full soul version: stripped the ugly old wallpaper and wrote quotes on the wall in my kids’ multicolored markers. The family and guests have added quotes for years to these “Walls of Inspiration.” I have to say, I love going in there and being surrounded by all of those soaring words and ideas. Thank you for your kind words. xo

        • diahannreyes says:

          I really love that, Chloe- walls of inspiration. Going to the bathroom at your place undoubtedly fills everyone with delight- to get to read and write. I’d stay in the shower for hours!

  24. HeartBound says:

    I love how you emphasise those good things that come with ageing – like life experience and wisdom. Those are so valuable and they bring true strength. Funny thing is, in our image-focused societies, many young people never feel at peace with the way they look anyway – even despite their youth. It’s so good to hear that you feel happy in yourself and where you are at in your life Diahann. ~ Cat :-)

    • diahannreyes says:

      Cat, such a good point- that even when in youth many don’t feel great about their appearances either. Makes me think of how society will keep finding ways for women to feel bad about their bodies whether it’s one thing or another. Waking up to that has been utterly liberating… albeit slowly but surely.

  25. F for Fantastic, Fun, Fit and Firmly super-confident (you) …(and me).

  26. Diahann, I loved this post, you absolutely nailed the dichotomy of what it’s like to simultaneously love your aging/changing/improving self while surrounded by a culture that despises aging and extols youth. I, too, am the healthiest I’ve ever been…proving to myself that aging is NOT necessarily just a ‘downhill slide’!….thanks for the provocative writing.

    • diahannreyes says:

      K, thank you! Great to connect. It’s been so liberating to find out that I have a choice in what growing older can be like. A friend of mine in her 60’s told me the other day it will just keep getting better if we let it.

      So glad to hear that you, too, are, to quote you, “having the time of (your) midlife!”

  27. There isn’t a word in this that I didn’t, and don’t, relate to, except I found the concern more prevalent as I closed in on 50. At 47, I started knocking my age down by two years. There are certain achievements I always imagined must be attained to a certain degree by 50. I have not made them, not even close. I find that harder to come to terms with even than the physical, which isn’t a picnic either for all the reasons you note, plus the issue of still coming to terms with my changed body that I don’t truly yet recognize as my own.

    It’s never easy, is it? I continue the internal debate about priorities, growth, purpose and meaning, and all the while, I just want to scream – Christ, can’t I just have a few years of sheer, unadulterated, blissful fun?

    • diahannreyes says:

      Robyn your last sentence made me laugh in self-recognition. And I agree, It’s really interesting how we do place all these expectations on ourselves about who we are supposed to be and what we should have done by a certain age. I definitely have been feeling that recently. And the physical, it definitely continues to be a psychological (as well as physical) journey in progress! Always great to see/hear from you.

  28. Michael Lane says:

    Love this post. Ageism is such a pernicious problem in our culture, particularly for women, and particularly in Los Angeles. None of us are immune, even men (What is happening to my hair?!). I have learned that in personal life terms though that my 40’s have been the best decade of my life and I wouldn’t trade anything to go back. I hope and think you will discover the same thing. You write with grace and dignity and courage, and just the fact that this blog exists and is vibrant and growing is evidence to me that you are shining and coming into your own, and yet you’re the oldest you’ve ever been!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Michael! For the encouragement and the witnessing and the acknowledgment and the support. My 40’s have been the best decade to date too… so here is to continuing to shift old paradigms and embracing our totality- wrinkles, beautiful flaws, strengths, vulnerabilities, and all!

  29. Jean says:

    Dianahh, I haven’t worn make-up for the past few years. I really mean working in an office and half of the time it’s with men. Hmmm, for meetings and presentations, I haven’t done that either.

    Meanwhile, despite sun block, the sun does affect my skin. Ah well. I do have some grey hair strands. I do like black hair and don’t wish to go the red-dark brown route like some older Asian women. Most likely I will allow myself to go grey. Overall my health and fitness is more important.

    I enjoyed my 40’s a lot but glad to live through my present decade. I haven’t trumpeted my age at work, but some people know I’m around 50 (well actually older). Has nothing to do with my looks, but I dislike ageism, discrimination, even slight on the older generation on the job.

    Great to own your age. It feels so good and whole! And yes, look forward to 55, the symbolic 2 hand “high 5s”.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Jean, I love that your self-care and health are the priority. Discrimination and ageism- definitely two societal concepts that the world could do better without but unfortunately still very real concerns. Yes, I will definitely remember to high 5 myself twice when the time comes!

  30. Jean says:

    Sorry to ask: I now realized in your resume that you give your weight. Why is that necessary as an actress, especially given your level of experience?

    I would kick butt on that.

    • diahannreyes says:

      I understand why you’d be curious, Jean. It’s a way for casting directors and producers to know your size. At this point in my acting career height and weight do play a factor in whether or not you are called in for certain jobs. “Physical type” can be very important and is found on many actor resumes.

  31. JF Owen says:

    Good for you! Being in your forties isn’t something to be fearful of; it’s something to celebrate. Women in their forties, or men for that matter, are more intelligent, more thoughtful, more empathetic, more humorous, more interesting, more attractive and more sensuous than their younger selves. Like a fine wine, we improve with age. I know this. I watched it happen with my beautiful wife when she turned forty over 20 years ago. :)

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Jerry! I love how you articulated the varying benefits of women and men in their 40’s.

      I’ve often wondered at the incongruence in terms of how, despite having more substance to who we’re becoming as we age, our value as humans in the eyes of potential mates would supposedly go down because we are older. Definitely a paradigm that doesn’t make sense.

      And clearly, as you so beautifully stated about your experience with your wife, a paradigm that is based on fallacy.

  32. […] Diahann Reyes @ storiesfromthebelly.com  Read full article […]

  33. kendrakroll says:

    FABULOUS post, Diahann. I know what you felt as that big 4-0 really gave e pause, too. Now that I’m nearing that next midlife milestone, it is truly a wake up call that life is fast. And fleeting. We need to make the most of what we have while we’re here by appreciating the gifts we have, and the people we love. I, too, wish society wasn’t so focused on youth and looks and body image. If only it could be different. But it’d be like stopping a tsunami with your arms…an impossible task. Still..it doesn’t mean we can’t still speak out about it. The conversations are important, even so. xo

    • diahannreyes says:

      thank you, Kendra! So I take it you are nearing the big 5-0 then? Congratulations. My friends who are in their fifties say it just gets better. I do hope the world changes to make room for embracing women of all ages… slowly but surely… and your write, these conversations are so important… maybe we’ll just be surprised and all our dialogues will just surge to create a wave of change. That would be so lovely.


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