Plus 40 Fabulous - An introduction

As you'll know if you've read my blog recently, Mookie and I created Plus 40 Fabulous to claim a space within plus size blogging for those of us aged 40 and over.

This post is an introduction to our style, our feelings on being over 40, and what this means for us with regards to societal pressure.

First, a little introduction to me if you've never read my blog before. I'm Leah, I'm 41, and I live in SE England by the sea. I wasn't a confident youngster, in fact I'm pretty sure I had undiagnosed anxiety disorder my whole life (until a few years ago when I got diagnosed) as absolutely everything terrified me and I never had any faith in myself. I've been on a journey to love myself as I am and my confidence grows year on year. I'm not 100% confident yet, but I'm inching ever closer and I definitely feel the best is yet to come.

My style

Had I been asked to describe my style a few weeks ago I would've said eclectic as I wore pretty much anything/everything, but I've since realised that what truly makes me happy is alternative fashion, leaning towards the rock chick and gothic. And alternative is an attitude as much as a look. It might be a pretty dress with shit kicking boots and one of my favourite strange coloured lipsticks, or it might be all black everything.

How I feel about being over 40

I'm loving life. I've never been as happy with myself. Of course getting older brings some changes - more grey hair, the menopause and all that stuff, but I'm pretty sure I was more unhappy with myself when I was young and perky than I am now. What loss is youth when I finally feel at peace with myself? The only thing I dislike about being this age is the tiny little slights. Suddenly you find you disappear by degrees. You turn less heads (although conversely as people don't see me at all I get insulted less), people start to overlook you as they think you're past it, and your opinion suddenly counts for less. It's like death by 1000 cuts, and none of them are visible to other people. You have to live it to feel it. But that's exactly why Mookie and I started this, because I strongly believe that if you feel under-represented, you have to represent yourself. Be the change you want to see, for you and people like you. I know that women of my age have a lot of life experience, some great stories to tell and good advice to give, and like fine wines, we get better with age. I feel very much that the best is still to come for me, and I know there are a lot of other women who feel this way.

I was never a confident teen, and I was never that confident in my twenties (unless you count when I was drinking, in which case, yes!) I was just starting to like myself in my 30s, and my 40s are even better. I know who I am, I know what I want, and I know that whatever anyone else's expectations of me might be that I'll be true to me. I'm no one's puppet.

How society treats older women

I think society treats the older lady with utter disdain. You only have to look at articles in the media running Nicole Kidman or Demi Moore down for their wrinkly knees, or whatever shitty body fascination is in vogue to belittle women over 40 that week. Phrases like 'bingo wings' are created by the media to remind women that their looks are currency, and when you're low on funds, you're considered worthless. I think it's a load of old bollocks. I LOVE older women - people like Dame Judy Dench, Helen Mirren, Joan Collins, Betsey Johnson, Zandra Rhodes etc are uncompromising women who know who they are. They're beautiful at ANY age, not beautiful despite their age. (That's a back-handed compliment if I've ever heard one!) Oh, the stories those ladies could tell, I bet they're a bloody riot.

Isn't it funny how you see distinguished older men reading the news but most female newsreaders are under 40? Men are 'allowed' to go grey and become wrinkly, but women are crucified for it. The world is still a pretty misogynistic place, and you realise this by degrees as you age. I hate that women feel the need for drastic surgeries as there's so much pressure on them to look young their whole lives. Visibly ageing is a privilege only afforded to men. Youth is attractive but knowledge is power, and I'll take 41 year old me over 18 year old me any day of the week.

I think things are changing though. People are living longer for a start, which means there are going to be more older ladies than ever before. And I think a lot of women are coming around to the idea that although society has expectations of how women over 40 should dress/act/be, that it's a crock of shit and you should please yourself. After all we're here for a short time and we're a long time dead.

Think of how many 'rules' you know about older women. Let me start:

Women over 40 should cut their hair short. Why is this even a thing?!
Women over 40 shouldn't wear too much makeup. Piss off.
Women over 40 shouldn't wear short skirts. Why not? Oh no, the wrinkly knees might offend some man's eyeballs. Quelle horreur!
Women over 40 should dress conservatively. Aw, pish, as the Scottish might say.

Why do so many people invest themselves in telling (or thinking) that other people should live their lives a certain way? Join me in raising your middle fingers aloft to sexist, ageist bollocks and let's praise feisty women with plenty of life and fire in them. Only a fool underestimates the older lady. We are powerful, and we don't need anyone's approval to be our authentic, amazing, vibrant selves.

Here are my sisters from other misters rocking it at 40 plus. We're the best kind of girl gang, trust me. ;)

If you're sharing your posts on social media feel free to use the hashtag #plus40fabulous and Mookie and I will share as many as we can. You can still take part with the introductory post on social media if you don't have a blog, and remember we will be taking guest posts from people who don't have blogs, which will be shared on mine and Mookie's blogs alternately. Email for details.


Thanks for reading, and please tell me in the comments about a rad lady over 40 you know! Let's praise our elder queens. Shout out to my mum, who's my biggest role model and who has faced endless hardship with humour and strength.

Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

Leah xoxo

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