‘You can’t be 16 forever’

November 21st, 2008 - 9:42 am ICT by IANS  

Munich, Nov 21 (DPA) The clock ticks without heeding the loss of youth and vivacity - causing unease especially among women.”Young” is no longer a description for people who reach important milestones such as their 40th, 50th and 60th birthdays. While some people have difficulty accepting their age, a few things such as a flirtation test or a new project can help.

For many women, getting their first wrinkles at the end of their 20s and their first grey hair at 30 are decisive events marking the ageing process. Despite a good understanding of that process, when a woman realises she is “getting old”, it is a shock.

“You can’t be 16 for ever,” said Munich psychotherapist and professor Anna Schoch. “Life means change from decade to decade.”

The art of having a happy life is, according to Schoch, the ability to accept the changes positively, even when the waistline slowly disappears and menopause takes away fertility.

“Letting go of the past and being able to take on something new: These abilities keep us in flux,” said Schoch. “People who try with all means to stay forever young miss true life and won’t achieve the desired goal anyway.”

Marcus Damm, a psychologist from Worms, Germany, believes that women who manage to free themselves from an irrational search for beauty experience a new and much more pleasant quality of life. Women who stand in front of the mirror for hours at a time and spend a lot of money on expensive cosmetics should pause for a minute and ask themselves what they are trying to prove and to whom.

In their desire to be attractive and for recognition, many women lose sight of their goal. It is actually about feeling self-actualised and accepting themselves.

Ursula Richter, a sociologist from Abensberg, Germany, has seen a reversal compared with women of past generations.

“Nowadays, an active youthful woman in her 40s is nothing unusual,” said Richter. A woman who has her own style, looks after herself and occasionally attends social events maintains an inner youth.

Experts also say that pretending to be young is not a way to age gracefully. They agree that miniskirts, hot pants and other garments designed for young bodies look artificial on older women. Richter considers youth fashion on older women a poor choice.

“Why should a woman of my generation want to look small, sweet and unimposing when she can score points by emphasizing completely different assets?” asked Richter.

Damm advises women who can’t let go of their desire for youth to take a critical reality test. He suggests they go out into the public and flirt with 10 different, attractive young men.

“How many of them are really interested in you?” asked Damm. It might be a sobering test, but this type of confrontation should help to straighten out a distorted self-perception.

“When you appreciate that the days of endless flirtation possibilities are over, you can finally start tending to the really important things in life.”

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