I was watching the Super Bowl last night with some friends, and like many people who aren’t that big on football, I was paying much more attention to the commercials that I was to the actual game. Many of them were good, but one thing was quickly clear: as a middle-aged woman, I was not the target audience for most of the ads. Our society is focused on youth, and my youth left me a long time ago and has no plans to return.
Being middle aged in a youth-obsessed culture can be a bit strange at times, and sometimes it’s hard not to feel somewhat irrelevant. I don’t often see women my age in magazine ads, even the ones selling skin creams and anti-aging serums. Middle aged women are rarely the main character in television shows or movies, since there again, the target audience is usually the twenty to thirty-year old age group. There’s just no getting around the fact that our society focuses most of its attention on the young in body rather than those of us who are simply young at heart.
But that lack of attention can also be a good thing. When I was younger, I knew that people tended to notice what I looked like, and more often than not, the attention made me feel self-conscious and awkward. I pretty much assumed I would be judged harshly if I wore something that wasn’t stylish or flattering on me. Now, I feel free to wear what I want, figuring most people aren’t going to notice much one way or the other. If it’s cold out, you can bet I’m wearing warm socks, even with ankle pants and flats. (Although I do try to coordinate the colors.)
Of course middle aged women don’t expect people our own age, especially our spouses, to ignore us now that we’re no longer young. They’re in the same boat, so they know that hiding within our aging bodies is the same youthful spirit we’ve always had. We just don’t have to worry about them judging our looks, partly because they understand, but mostly because they haven’t seen us clearly for years. Fading eyesight can be a good thing.