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I despise the phrase - a woman of a certain age. I have been guilty of using it myself, but not anymore. Can we please stop using it, especially us women? I find it so patronizing.

There's an argument that some women make that the phrase allows us to ditch being defined by a number, but I can't entirely agree because it's as if we're saying - don't you dare mention my age - knowing that a woman is over 40 is not a nice thing to know - best to keep it a secret.

But even more insidious is the message it sends out that aging women is a dirty word and something to be despised and avoided, and that once women are past 40 or post-menopausal we lose our value because our childbearing years are over what to speak of the pejorative message of being hormonally-challenged by menopause. Women know all too well what I'm talking about.

The Collins English Dictionary defines this phrase in this way: "women of an unspecified age, but no longer young (usually said of women)". That says it all, doesn't it? Have you noticed that we never refer to men as being of a certain age?

I have to admit that it's taken me a while to get comfortable telling people my age - I'm going to be 70 this year, and I've noticed how I can still feel a tinge of embarrassment when I let someone know how long I've been around - that's how deep the social conditioning goes - that's how much we've been hoodwinked into believing that looking young is at the heart of our worthiness. Most women are terrified of aging - it's the reason why the cosmetic industry is worth $528 billion a year.

I've had my share of fearing getting old. Throughout my life, I've been physically attractive by most standards, and so when you're used to liking how you look, it's a huge loss when those looks begin to fade.

As I approach my 70th year, I have my share of wrinkles. I am aware that I am not as thin as I used to be, and I know all too well that I have become invisible to men (and women). I am aging. And yet, the issues that I have dealt with in the past decades of my life are still ongoing. I'm still concerned with how to be healthy, how to nurture my relationships, how to keep my sexual libido alive, and how to make money. Nothing much has changed.

But more importantly, I have not lost my creative force. I still want to be relevant and have meaning in the world. I still want to matter. I still want to be seen and heard. I still have so much to offer. I'm still wondering what I should be when I grow up.

And so my message to all the lovely young and old women - and myself is - don't be afraid of growing old, and know that our creative force does not have a shelf-life. It will never dry up unless we allow it to happen. Don't let the world that worships youth tell you otherwise. Don't allow that other world to erase you.

I am NOT a woman of a certain age. I AM A 70-YEAR-OLD WOMAN GROWING MORE CERTAIN, NOT LESS.



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