Essay: Roaring Forties (women over 40, too many to ignore)

Julia Roberts born in 1967

I’m in my forties and proud of it.  Similar to Oprah Winfrey when she proudly turned forty over a decade ago. A woman over forty is something to fear because a woman over forty has learned to sidestep the crap and hears BS from miles away.  She can’t be fooled.  Don’t even try.  This is the age when women have children in college, if they even chose to have children.  This is the age when many women divorce their husbands and set out on adventure.  Where they heal themselves of martyred selflessness and practice healthy selfishness. And this is the age according to Dr. Joan Borysenko where women undergo metamorphosis.

In Borysenko’s book “A Women’s Book of Life” the doctor explores women’s forties in Chapter Eight, “Authenticity, Power, and the Emergence of The Guardian.”  Since this is the age of perimenopause and menopause, women aren’t taken too seriously by a patriarchal society.  This is the age where the ability to reproduce ends, but a new type of fruitfulness emerges.  According to Borysenko, “Just as our values and outer structures are undergoing a midlife metamorphosis, so are our bodies.  The physiological changes that occur in a women’s forties primes her for the next stage of life, which is characterized by coming more fully into her creativity and making expanded social contributions.”

French actress Juliette Binoche, born in 1964

Just look at Oprah’s contributions after forty and I might add many actresses to this list too such as Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, Katherine Hepburn, and on we go.  If a woman does her forties right, she reclaims her personal power, learns how to set boundaries, and teach what she’s learned thus far to younger generations.  Or perhaps a woman at this stage in her life, quits her job, divorces her husband, and sets out on a world adventure to find herself.  This is a time to clean out proverbial closets and only allow what is real in her life.

I think what I enjoy about the French and Europeans in general is that they respect women over forty, even women over fifty.  And even in the US where we worship youth, women over forty aren’t all sprouting grey hair, wrinkles, and wearing diapers.  Just because women are hitting menopause by their late forties and early fifties doesn’t mean that their sexuality or personal power wanes.  In fact, at this stage of the game women can explore their sexuality without fear of pregnancy and other complications.  Some women of this age choose younger men, and others men their own age.  Some women in their forties change their sexual preference altogether.  Anything can happen at this magical and transformative juncture.

Sandra Bullock, a powerful beauty at any age

But me, I’m glad to have lived through my teen years, my twenties, and my thirties to have reached the fruitful stage of twenty plus years of creative endeavors.  I don’t, like some of my peers, feel like I’m competing with younger generations. I think we all compliment each other, if only we would allow each and everyone to bring their unique qualities to the table.  So employers don’t want to hire us any longer, unless our employer happens to be a woman over forty.  We have the power to re-shape our destiny on our own terms.

So women over forty, let me hear you roar.

2 thoughts on “Essay: Roaring Forties (women over 40, too many to ignore)

  1. Thanks Diane. You know in the past women over 40 just put up with the patriarchal idea that a woman is worthless after her reproductive years end. But the women of the baby boomer generation didn’t put up with that nonsense, and Gen-X women have always been feisty anyway…The times are changing at least.

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