Well Being

How Society Damaged Me (And Probably You Too!

December 5, 2022

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If you are a women over 50, chances are you were raised with certain societal expectations for, and about, women. And chances are good, that programming goes very deep. Negative programming that affected every decision you’ve made since you were a little girl.  After all, we were young girls, learning about how life works, right? What reason would we have had to doubt what we saw? What we heard? What was everywhere, all around us? Media telling us how we should look, how we should behave, how to “catch a man”?

How Older Women Were Damaged by Society

How Older Women Were Damaged by Society

Even our own loved ones expected less from us because we were women. Girls played with dolls and dreamed of their wedding, boys played with guns and dreamed of being astronauts, or the President.

Fireman. Policeman. Mailman.  Nurses were women. Doctors were men. Secretaries were women. CEOS were men.  Shoot, the year I was born, a woman still could not buy a car without her husbands “permission”. And a woman of color in 1968? I can’t even pretend to imagine. 

Just an FYI, NOTHING wrong with wanting to be married, to be a stay at home mom, etc… IF that’s what a woman wants… nothing. I WAS one for Gods sake, and don’t regret a minute of it. The point is that women of this generation have more choices about how people think of them. Older women of our generation? They were allowed to have jobs, maybe even careers. But everything came second to expectations of so called “femininity”.

That programming from society has damaged me. Us. Told us deep in our souls that being a women meant being less. Being fragile. Being weaker. And the expectations? That we behave like ladies, always look beautiful for our “men”, maintain a size super model, put our careers, our passions and our own needs on a lower priority level than our family and marital duties. Affected our self-esteem. Taught us that who we are is what we looked like, or how we took care of others.

#MeToo Opened Eyes

It has damaged us. What do we do about that? Well, fortunately girls, the times they are a changin’. Slowly, but it is happening. The #metoo movement made men of our generation abundantly aware that it is not ok to treat us like we were put on this earth solely for their pleasure. (More about the #metoo movement, in case you need a refresher!)  Attitudes about aging are changing. 40 is the new 20, right? And the fact is, the over 50 segment of women on the internet is the fastest growing group of influencers.

What does this mean? Well while this is all great news, it isn’t enough. We have to start reprogramming the societies of this world, and it starts with us. Women in our 50’s and better.

How to Change the Norms for Women

What do we want for our granddaughters? I never want one of my grand babies to think she has to make herself smaller because she is a woman. I want them to be unapologetically colorful, and honest, and bold, and carefree, and …happy. Fulfilled. To feel safe. To feel in love with who they are. To love who they love. To never look in the mirror and call themselves “fat and ugly”. To never hate being a woman.

I can’t imagine even one of you does not want the same for the girls you love. Fortunately, some hard work has been done by some brave women, and they have it just a little bit better than we did, in some ways. Societies messages are just slightly less toxic. They are just a little more free. 

But more than that at the moment, I don’t want women of our generation to believe for one more minute that they have to fit into those molds cast when they were little girls. Not for one more damn minute.

So, what actions can we take? Like I said, first it starts with us, with the way society programmed us to think , and feel, and behave.

Step By Step – Reprogramming of The Toxic Attitude Towards Women Over 50

In order to change the narrative in our brains from believing that we are over, done, ugly, etc… We need to feed ourselves better, more positive thoughts. The thoughts we women over 50 deserve. Because the truth is, no one else is going to do it for us.

One of the ways I have found helpful is to journal your negative thoughts. Here is an easy journaling technique, that done with regularity, can go far in helping to reprogram yourself with a more positive and healthy view of what a women is, was, and always will be.

  1. Write down the negative thought you are having. It could be “I feel fat”, “Why can’t I look like her”, “I could never do THAT”…
  2. Try to reach deep and discover why you are thinking that. Something like”I was taught as a child that my looks and sexuality were my worth”.
  3. Then finally, counter that negativity with a positive, even if you don’t quite believe it yet! Perhaps, “I am beautiful because I am me, and what I was taught as a child was wrong and harmful.”

Keep these journaling pages and read them over often. It’s like exercise for your brain. You are reprogramming yourself to undo what society did.

I hope this helps you to start thinking in a way that is kinder to yourself, and allows you to feel just a little freer every day!

-Kathy

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