Post simultaneously boosts, diminishes women

If you are a woman of a certain age, perhaps you've seen this Facebook post.

"To all my female friends from 40 years and up ... most of us are going through the next phase of our lives. We're at that age where we see wrinkles, gray hair and extra pounds. Menopause has already appeared or just waiting around the corner. We see the cute 25-year-olds and sigh. But we were also 25, just as they one day will be our age. What they bring to the table with their youth and zest, there we bring our wisdom, experience and good hearts. Everything we've been through to serve every gray hair ... raise children and dogs, bills, diseases, sadness and everything else life assigns us. We are survivors ... we are warriors in the quiet ... we are women. Like a classic car or nice wine. Even if our body may not be what it once was, it carries our soul, our courage and our strength. We shall all enter this chapter of our lives with humility and pride over everything we have been through and should never feel bad about getting older. It's a privilege that is denied many."

First I noticed one of my high school classmates had posted this with her photo (she looks fabulous, by the way). Then another did the same. Countless women, I've since realized, have been posting this message all summer.

I confess I have really mixed feelings about these posts.

On the one hand, I love the sense of empowerment they seem to convey. I smile when I look at the pictures of women of all different shapes and sizes and ethnicities who look strong, happy and sassy. I enjoy seeing the youthful faces of women who are 10 years younger than I am, but I love the photos of grandmothers who are 20 years older.

On the other hand, I wonder what the posts would look like if they were written by men.

"We are looking good, brothers! The ladies love that touch of gray at the temples. Don't worry about those love handles - they're hardly noticeable. Dudes in their 20s are so clueless. Life is so much better over 40. We rock!"

An exaggeration, maybe, but I can't imagine most men would be nearly as concerned about justifying their gray hairs, noting their falling testosterone levels or extolling the advantages of wisdom over youth.

To get a reality check, I asked my husband what he thought.

Men don't post crap like that, he said.

Good point.

I asked him what a man would post instead, and I can't really print what he wrote in response. Trust me, there were no mentions of gray hairs or humility.

I truly believe whoever wrote the post (besides being infatuated with ellipses) had the best intentions in mind. It's too bad she felt such a need to call attention to what she perceived as shortcomings.

Here's what I wish the post said.

"To all my female friends who no longer feel as young as they once did, I wish you peace. I wish that when you look in the mirror, you see a woman who has learned many lessons in her life and who has given and received much love. I hope you are able to see past society's narrow view of beauty and recognize just how beautiful you are, inside and out. I pray that your life continues to be filled with all that truly matters."

We don't need to justify ourselves, ladies. We are looking good. Life is better after 40. We rock.

- Pamela Lannom is on vacation. This column was first published Sept. 6, 2018.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean