This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
By LUCRECER BRAXTON
I’ve never looked my age. When I graduated from high school and started college, I looked older than my 17 years. That made me feel good and I appreciated the good genes I was blessed with from both sides of my family. By the time I was in my early 30s, people assumed I was in my 20s. I took care of myself, I laughed, I loved, I lived. Now, when I turned 40, I stopped caring what other people thought about me or how they said I should act. After listening to Cindy Gallop in a recent #DisruptAging interview say, “At this age, I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks.” I knew this woman was a kindred.
Women are held to a different standard than men when it comes to aging. When a man gets a few grey hairs, he is seen as sexy and distinguished. Women, on the other hand, are defined and valued by how they look through the male lens. Cindy says, “When you are using the phrase, “Sex sells,” it is only meant for men, even though women are the primary consumers.” As women, we have to challenge that and champion for younger women if we want to change the stereotypes society forces on us.At this age, I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks. #DisruptAging Click To Tweet
According to Cindy, one of the most damaging stereotypes for young women is to be dismissed when she is a young girl. That effect can translate to young women who carry it with them as they grow older and move through their career. I know I am not the only woman who has been told I don’t understand the industry I am working in or I am not old enough to understand how things work around here. The thing is, women bring value at any age.
Older women, actively promote your value in the workplace. Talk about how your ability to multitask around parenting and work brings value to an employer. What makes older women great leaders and negotiators is their ability to manage a lot of people. As mothers, women have insights into human motivations and can get the desired outcome of the people they manage. Older women have the ability to not easily be rattled by what may happen to them because they have already been through it and come out better on the other side. We have to own and understand these skills in the workplace and get paid for it.
For younger women, Cindy suggests that when joining an industry or company at entry level, understand how valuable you are right now even at this stage. Your opinions are valuable and your age is a benefit. Take a look at the industry you are joining and ask yourself what is missing. What can you contribute and how can you make it better? “Learn everything you can, then leave the company and start your own. That company you left will buy your company for a shit ton of money,” says Cindy.
Women are not defined by our age; instead of speaking about your age as a negative, own it! We bring so much value to the table and our contribution matters. Women should actively promote themselves. It isn’t selfish or wrong to do so. Think about it…if you don’t promote yourself and sing your praises, who will? Cindy says, “Just say your age. Own it. Actively promote the things you bring to the table and your tremendous experience.” I completely agree.
I am 46 years old and I appreciate every year I have lived on this Earth. As I reflect on my life and think about my future, I am grateful for the experiences I have and I look forward to the ones to come. There is so much opportunity to take what I have learned and use it to create the kind of future I want for myself. My age does not hold me back, it gives me a leg up.
Cindy in collaboration with Teen Vogue and AARP, encourage women to champion for themselves and younger women. Society doesn’t do it and is slow to reward females for their accomplishments and contributions. Join the conversation about #DisruptAging at DisruptAging.org.