If you were teased as a child about your body size and weight, if your mother always fretted about gaining weight, or if you felt “fat” as a child, a teen, or during pregnancy, chances are you will also experience some level of body in menopause as your body undergoes further physical changes. Since women typically gain more weight across their lifespan than men do, they are more vulnerable to body dissatisfaction as they age.
In my grandmother’s day, body image was not an issue. In my mother’s time, a womanly shape was the ideal. Hollywood starlets were shapely. Curves were admired! However, in the mid-sixties, curves and body size began to shrink, giving way to the twig.
At the same time, another trend was identified by researchers–a growing gap between the ideal body shape and size and actual body shape and size, which initiated the diet craze. So what does this all mean? Well, if you were an adolescent in the mid-sixties, the Twiggy era, then you have been exposed to an unrealistic ideal of beauty for most of your life and the pressure has not let up. You may find that your body dissatisfaction has increased with age, not lessened. In fact, many mature women are dieting more now than they did as young adults!
Menopause and Body Dissatisfaction
As we age, declining hormones and loss of muscle mass and tone make it more difficult to manage one’s weight. For this reason, it is important to stay physically active and keep moving! In times past, women were more accepting of body changes that accompanied the natural aging process. However, today’s woman is likely to develop social physique anxiety, the feeling that others will negatively evaluate their body which may cause some mature women to limit exercising in public. Others may keep smoking even though they want to quit, because they fear weight gain. Still, other women report depression, fatigue, a lack of well-being, less enjoyment of sex, and marital dissatisfaction which may or may not be related to feelings of being undesirable.
Here’s where having a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the changes that come with aging. Stay active and involved in life. Women who feel more in charge of their life are less likely to be distressed by the changes that accompany menopause then women who suffer from body image issues. They are also less likely to be susceptible to pressure from their partners or spouses to stay thin at all costs.
If you are a menopausal woman, have you experienced body dissatisfaction in this life stage? If so, how are you coping? Do you find yourself more concerned or less concerned about your body size and shape as you age?