right hand image by Cat Ford-Coates

We are not 21 anymore

It's time get unstuck on the fact that we are not 21 anymore. We never will be. Why should we measure ourselves by that physical yardstick? I'm 56 now. I've traveled, owned several businesses, and have 3 degrees. I look different. I don't look "worse." I look older. There is nothing wrong with looking older. It is part of life. And everyone deserves to have photos that mark every part of their lives. I don't want the last photo someone remembers of me is of a 21 year-old twit. I want them to remember the woman I am now.

So many women won't get in front of a camera because they aren't "21 anymore." Why should we want to be 21? We grow into much more interesting people, seasoned, smart and tough. Why do we want to hold onto that to 21 old child-adult? Because all the images we are force fed imply that 21 is the is the "ideal time" of beauty, when women are most desired by men. Should we not want to look at ourselves in photographs because we are not "sexually appealing" to TV men? Who are these men anyway? I know it seems real, but TV women and TV men don't exist in the real world. In the real world, we age. We grow wiser. We grow into full-fledged women, and we are loved by real men who also age.

So we are rejecting our self-image and not having our photos taken because we are not "sexually appealing" according to people who don't even exist in the real world. Thereby, effectively vanishing ourselves from all memory on this earth. Women over 21 have to learn to love their image. We must love who we are in every phase of our journey on this earth. It doesn't matter what you look like physically; it matters what you look like to yourself. When you truly love who you are, it doesn't matter what other people think of you. I know people are fond of saying, "I don't care what they think," but I have known very few people who actually live by this.

We must strive to live in a world where we are completely free to look anyway we want and be confident about it. This is easier said than done, but as women we must push toward it. We can't sacrifice our whole concept of self to people who decide what women to put in advertising. We don't have to measure ourselves against anyone. We just have to keep pushing toward the best version of ourselves we can be.