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60-Plus and Body Positive: The New Motto of This Boomer Woman

By Jude Walsh November 22, 2022 Mindset

Most women our age can readily tell you which part of their body they are most self-conscious about or feel is their least attractive. For years we were deluged with stories, articles, and advice about how to fix whatever was wrong.

For me, it was my belly. I would read headlines like: “Flatten your belly in 10 days!” “Lose the belly weight,” “How to have a flat stomach,” and “How to dress to hide your belly!” And how many of us read the advice to always “hold-in your stomach”?

Body Positivity

But things are changing. As part of being an entrepreneur in my 60s, I have contact with numerous millennials. Many of them are advocates of something they call Body Positivity. It has been a revelation to talk with them about this, so I thought I’d share what I learned with the Sixty and Me community.

Here are a few tenants of body positivity:

  • Accept and appreciate the body you have.
  • Help others feel comfortable with their bodies.
  • Know that beauty comes in all sizes.
  • Know that our bodies do change in relation to age and circumstance (pregnancy, illness, exercise, dietary changes, menopause, etc.).
  • Believe all bodies are miraculous.
  • Accept responsibility for your body; treat it with love and care. (This does not mean conforming to a certain size culturally deemed appropriate.)
  • Love yourself and your body.
  • Care for your body via appropriate rest, good nutrition, exercise, appreciation.
  • Know you can be fit and healthy without being an exact size.

I thought about this for a long time and wondered how it would manifest for me, a woman in my 60s, having had a partial mastectomy, and still struggling with feeling good in my own skin. So, I created a list of my top 10 body positivity tips.

Five Things to Stop Doing

Many of us have gone down the negative thought spiral for way too long. Here are five things I suggest you stop doing:

#1: Stop Thinking Media Images Are Accurate

In the past, we heard about photos of models being “air brushed” by the magazine. Today, images are changed in a myriad of ways.

We can no longer assume the images are an accurate portrayal of the person behind the camera. In fact, I think it is better to err on the side of assuming they have been enhanced in some way.

#2: Stop Accepting Anyone Else’s Opinion or Judgment About Your Body

People seem to feel free to make comments and suggestions without being asked. Maybe they think it’s for “your own good.” I have decided I will no longer accept any unwanted advice or criticism. I don’t feel a need to push back. I simply ignore them.

#3: Stop Being So Self-Critical

We are often harder on ourselves than anyone else ever might be. I have recently adopted a self-listening practice. When I hear myself say, or even think, a harsh thought, I stop and remind myself to be affirming not harsh.

#4: Stop Waiting for Your Body to Change in Some Way to Be Acceptable

I buy clothes that fit and complement my body as it is. Do not wait until those extra 10 pounds are off before buying a new dress. Buy the dress now. If it is one size up, so what? Love that dress and rock wearing it.

Do not think you have to tone your arms before you can even think about wearing something sleeveless. Keep working on toning your arms to increase strength and enjoy the accompanying muscle definition, but go sleeveless now.

#5: Stop Being Critical or Judgmental of Other Women’s Bodies

Again, do some self-monitoring. You might be surprised by how often you are criticizing other women. As you strive to be less self-critical, also strive to be less others-critical. If you are with a group that engages in this kind of critical talk, disengage.

Just don’t participate or change the subject to something more uplifting. If that doesn’t work, either leave the situation or speak up, saying something like, “I try not judge other women’s bodies.”

Five Things to Start Doing

Eliminating the negative is best done by engaging the positive. Try reframing your mind around these five positive actions:

#1: Start Looking for Media Images and Articles That Support Women’s Natural Beauty

We are seeing more models in a broader range of sizes. We are also seeing commercials using real women as opposed to professional models.

Women of all sizes have started posting their photos on Instagram, and though sometimes there may be critical or cruel comments, there’s always pushback in support of the brave woman. Patronize companies that have a wide range of sizes available and promote body positivity. Let your dollars reflect your beliefs.

#2: Start Accepting and Loving Your Body as It Is

I will never be a size 10 or even 12 again. So what? I can still choose clothing that reflects and celebrates who I am as a woman right now. I no longer avoid colors or prints that might make me look “too big.” I love color and I love prints and have found beautiful pieces in each.

#3: Start Monitoring Your Thoughts and Words and Turn the Negatives into Positives

I practice turning statements around. For example, I take, “My belly is too big, nothing looks right on me. No one makes clothes that fit and flatter me.”

Then I turn it around to, “I am curvy in lots of places that can enhance my clothing style and so are many other women. There are plenty of options out there now. I am going to choose outfits that make me look and FEEL good.”

#4: Start Noticing What Is Right About Your Body as Opposed to What “Needs Improvement”

Instead of obsessing about my belly, I am going to celebrate my slim ankles and toned calves and buy some amazing shoes.

I have strong shoulders and a nice neck. I am going to show them off by wearing fitted sleeves and open necklines. I have gorgeous green eyes and will choose outfits that bring out that color.

#5: Start Noticing What Is Lovely About Other Women’s Bodies and Appearance, and When Appropriate, TELL Them!

I have adopted a new practice of speaking up when I see something lovely about another woman. It can be as simple as, “That scarf really complements your outfit.” Or, “I love your dress, you look beautiful.” Or “I love seeing a woman wear a hat with such style.” Or, “That necklace is so unique, how lovely!”

Or, if it is someone I know has been working out, I’d say, “Wow I can really see definition in your arms.” It is interesting to note the woman’s response. Some struggle with accepting the complement and want to brush it off. Some are surprised and pleased. So many return a big smile and just say, “Thank you!”

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How do you view your body? Are you critical of your curves and try to mask them? What steps can you take toward being body positive after 60? After all, this is the time to be authentic! Let’s have a conversation!

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Toni Stritzke

When I see a woman of any age, who rocks their look, I go up and tell them how good they look.
Whether it’s the young lassie in my local supermarket, with tats, piercings and lime green hair, always dressed in black, or the elderly lady out shopping who has totally “togethered” her clothes from top to toe.
I consider it my mission to say it out loud instead of just think it.

shaggy Maggie

Mucho merci for your article Jude. Off for annual beach vaca with pals. I’ve been sad because my anti estrogen meds (post breast cancer) seemed to have aged me: I’m lumpy and bumpy. So I put the bikinis away, and bought cover ups. Rethinking my attitude. Your ideas are like little firecrackers !! I’m not going to hide… And I’m going to help my pals as they complain about their aging bodies.

Carrie

I am happier with my body than I have been in years. After a recent 80 lb weight loss, and 100 lbs from my highest weight, I am reveling in feeling bones and seeing new wrinkles that were hidden for years. I wake up with more energy and a happier disposition. Trying not to regret why it took me so long to take care of myself.

Lori

This is so true. I’ve disliked my body for as long as I can remember, always thinking that my upper thighs and hips were too heavy. I weighed 105 lbs until I was 35 without dieting. Media portrayed the Twiggy look as being the norm back then. A couple of days ago I was going through some stuff and found some old slides of my trip to Majorca when I was eighteen years old. I held the film to the light and looked at each one. One was a Pic of me on the beach, lying on a lounge chair in a bikini. I looked just fine. What on earth was I thinking??? Now, I’m heavier, have a less than perfect body and think I look good. It’s all in your mind.

Cindy

I stay away from social media and I have learned to accept myself for which I am. Ageism exists in our society, and it’s important to embrace and value ourselves, REGARDLESS of age.

The Author

Writer and Creativity and Mindset Coach Jude Walsh, EdD, helps artists develop a thriving practice. She aids women, post-divorce or at a turning point in their lives, to identify and create their optimal new life. She is the author of Post-Divorce Bliss: Ending Us and Finding Me. Please visit her at www.secondbloomcoaching.com

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