What does a 57-year-old woman look like? She looks like moi. Me. How do I know? Because I am turning 57 this weekend, and because over the past two weeks my boyfriend has nicknamed me Heinz 57. You know, the steak sauce that’s been around since the 1970s?
I think it’s kind of funny that on the Heinz 57 bottle it reads, “Add zest to chicken, steak & pork.” Why? Because if I had to describe myself at 57, one of the first words that comes to mind is zest. Besides being the outer peel of a lemon, zest means having great enthusiasm and energy; and I have those things probably more than I ever have in my life.
As I embark on my 58th year of life, I want to reflect on the 57-year-old woman (also relevant to the age range of 50-60, in my opinion); what she sees, what she’s thinking, where she’s been and where she’s going. I realize of course that every woman is unique, so I can only speak for myself and the common characteristics I see in women I know who are around my age. Here goes.
What does a 57-year-old-woman look like?
When a 57-year-old woman looks in the mirror, she looks very very closely. Way too closely. Her vision is a little bit blurry without her readers, but she can still see every single wrinkle, every imperfection, and every age spot on her face. Botox, other fillers, and facial treatments help, but let’s face it, they’ll never bring her looks back to her thirties; a time she wishes she would have appreciated her youth and beauty so much more. She realizes that as time passes, looks fade and self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-love become more clear.
Also in the mirror is her 57-year-old body. I don’t care whether she is a size 2,8, 12 or 20, the 57-year-old woman is critical of her shape. The muffin top, the love handles, the varicose veins, the cellulite, the sagging skin…it’s all there and it’s just not good enough. It never was.
Women (actually women of all ages) are unnecessarily critical of their bodies. It makes me sad, because women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and instead of focusing on what looks good, women concentrate on the flaws and beat themselves up for it. “I should work out more, I shouldn’t have had that piece of cake last night, No wonder I’m not dating anyone…” I find it really, really sad, but honestly, I’ve been engaging in that negative self-talk on and off my whole life.
But the 57-year-old is wise enough to brush off those criticisms pretty quickly, and shift to the tremendous amount gratitude she feels. Gratitude for health; a healthy body and a healthy mind. Working out is not just for losing weight, in fact, it’s done mainly to stay healthy. When you’re 57 you hear so many stories about people in their forties, fifties, sixties, and older getting all kinds of illnesses, including dementia. It’s scary as hell. Most 57- year-olds have had some minor and even major health issue, so not being perfect doesn’t seem as important as being healthy.
My health issues have included a broken ankle, a hip replacement, and a shattered wrist. But the worst thing I’ve gotten so far is thyroid cancer and you know what? I survived. I have a scar on my neck and I take a pill every morning. Big deal. I choose to look at those things as constant reminders of the gift and the privilege of life. My problems are minimal compared to other people I’ve talked to. That is the mindset of me at 57, and I can’t say I’d have had that same attitude at a younger age.
My point is, at 57, even though we still care about looking good, being healthy is more important than being beautiful. Being happy makes someone feel beautiful. Enjoying life and people make being physically perfect slide down the scale of significance. Having gratitude for your loved ones makes someone feel fulfilled at 57. Selfies aren’t taken for vanity purposes, they’re taken to make memories.
What does a 57-year-old woman look like on the inside?
1. She can’t believe she is 57 because on the inside she feels like she’s 27.
2. Everywhere she goes, she carries a tiny bit of longing for her grown children, but she’s happy they are self-sufficient. Thank God she has her beloved dog, who will always be her baby.
3. She’s so much better at romantic relationships. She’s a better partner: more giving, thoughtful, loving, appreciative, patient, respectful. Less critical, impulsive and mean.
4. If she isn’t in a relationship, she might feel lonely and alone at times. It hurts. I spent long periods of time in my life as a divorced woman feeling alone. It was hard, but when I learned how to be comfortable being alone, I didn’t feel lonely anymore.
5. She has the ability to love better and to show vulnerability to someone she trusts.
6. She has regrets from the past, but realizes that dwelling on them is unproductive. That said, there are some recurrent ones that will always stay in the back of her mind, but she has enough self-love to forgive herself-something that younger people don’t always do.
7. The 57-year-old woman has watched her parents age and possibly die. It’s been 5 years and missing my dad has become a way of life for me. I still cry, at times.
8. People inherit a lot of our parents’ traits–some good and some bad. But we don’t realize it until we get older. Then it’s up to us to change the negative behavior, and/or have gratitude for the good ones we got.
9. Siblings are a 57-year-old’s best friends, no matter how much we all drive each other crazy.
10. Seeing old friends brings her tremendous joy. Sentimentality is so much more prevalent in an older woman.
11. There’s no time for toxic relationships. If you haven’t already done so, stop hanging around with people who make you feel badly about yourself, or who you don’t like yourself around.
12. The 57-year-old woman loves her wine and her chocolate.
13. She has a bucket list and is starting to cross things off, and boy it is it fun.
14. Some 57-year-olds are thinking of retiring soon, and some are already retired. Retirement can make someone feel lost, like “What am I supposed to do now?” I would recommend meeting with a life coach. They are trained to help you figure it out. Or, follow the path of what you love to do, what you’re good at, and what makes you feel good about yourself, whether that’s a hobby, a part-time job, or volunteer work.
15. Life is too short to hate your job. At 57, she has less tolerance for a bad work situation, and she knows she deserves to be treated the right way and with respect.
16. 57-year-olds do the right thing. We just do. I’m not saying young people don’t do the right thing, but it comes much more naturally and frequently at 57.
17. 57 can bring physical limitations on the spectrum of little annoyances to really serious stuff. Little things like being unable to read the directions on the back of a bottle of Advil, even with my glasses on or slight hearing loss can drive a person nuts. It’s frustrating! More serious things like a joint replacement are a little scary but doable. The worst are the scary, bad things that I don’t even want to mention. We all have friends who have died in their fifties or sixties that shocked us. I’ve always been somewhat of a hypochondriac, but at 57, it’s gotten a little worse.
18. Little things that used to drive her crazy and upset her don’t anymore. The 57-year-old knows how to breathe through stress and pain, and handle problems as they come because she recognizes everything is solvable and what isn’t, God will take care of.
19. Speaking of God, the 57-year-old woman is spiritual. Very. I know personally, I talk to God all the time, both to thank Him and to ask for things.
20. The 57-year-old notices things. She’s not so much in a hurry every minute. I notice dogs, ducks, birds, pretty landscaping, happy couples, bright blue skies, puffy clouds and babies. Did I always notice those things so much? I’m not sure.
In closing, some people might think the 57-year-old woman is tired. I feel like she is anything but. Like Heinz 57 sauce, (and like me) she is full of zest. A lot of her life is behind her, but the best is yet to come.
“The best is yet to come” happens to be a theme I’ve heard three times in the past month. First, I met a lovely woman, who is a life coach, and the name of her business is “Good Things are Gonna Come.” I then went to a dear friend’s party and the theme was “The Best is Yet to Come.” That same day, I ran into a friend and told her I recently started living with my boyfriend of 7 years. Her response was to hug me and then look me right in the eyes and say, “The best is yet to come.” So, those are the words I’m choosing as I celebrate turning Heinz 57.
Are there challenges that go along with being 57? My guess is yes since there are challenges with every age and every year. But the good news is, the 57-year-old woman is strong. She can handle shit. She’s handled it before and she’ll handle whatever comes her way, taking on what she can control and leaving the rest up to God, who she knows loves her and loves us all.
Other than having children, one of the things I’m most proud of in life is starting Divorced Girl Smiling, and turning it into a brand that supports men and women going through a divorce and after. So, I’m compelled to add to this article that if you are getting divorced or if you are already divorced and you are in your 50’s or even older, and you feel old and lonely and alone and maybe even hopeless, I have some advice.
I know things feel like they will never change or get better, but they will. But you play a role in that happening. Control what you can: make smart choices, stop thinking about him (or her), and try not to think about how angry you are, how resentful you feel or how unfair things are. Instead, focus on what you can do to have a good life again, hopefully an even better life than you had when you were married. The best is yet to come for you, too. I know it.
To all my peers turning 57 this year or in the future, I wish you all the wisdom, the gratitude, and the happiness this age brings, but with one condition: that you live your life with zest.