I Am Me, and Always Will Be

Jill Langhus
Posted August 8, 2017 from Spain
My second grade photo

Aging is a crazy thing… what does it really mean, if anything? It seems like it has meaning for most people, but should it? Is it the big deal that Hollywood and the media make it, or is it only the outward appearance of who we are, physically, that has absolutely nothing to do with who we really are, on a soul level? I personally believe this is the case. Am I exempt from aging or feeling society’s judgment because of this belief of my appearance… unfortunately not.

I grew up on a dairy farm, in an average middle-class, white family. So, I suppose by some standards I’m already more privileged or perceived as more privileged that a lot of people in the world. I obtained two degrees, am married with no children, and live in Spain. Am I more privileged because I have two degrees, or am married or live in Spain? Am I underprivileged because I don’t have children? Some people may say I am privileged or not privileged going by these stats, but the point is they are just stats… just as aging is. So, why does everyone make such a big deal out of all these stats, including aging? Yes, I suppose I’m fairly good looking. Has this made my life easier and brought me more advantages? It could have and I’m sure some people would definitely say so, but how do these so-called advantages make my life more enriched? They don’t. What’s more people treat you differently when you are good looking. They assume that you have everything and they don’t. I’ve seen some of this directly, but I’ve even caught myself thinking this about my own niece. How absurd. I’m sure she’s had just as many hardships as someone who isn’t young and good-looking.

Where do we get these beliefs? I think a large part of these beliefs are propagated by the media and then perpetuated and enforced by family, friends, cohorts, etc. I remember when I was a teenager who couldn’t wait to get older. I incorrectly thought all the adults had everything figured out and had so much more fun than me. Hmm. Again, where do we get these thoughts and beliefs? I think around 13/14, I started to figure out that some times it wasn’t so bad being a teenager, although I hated high school, hated being an introvert who tried hard to be an extrovert at times, and lived in the middle of nowhere. I remember thinking that 17 must be the most amazing age because of the magazine, 17, and that everything after that must surely be golden and easier from that point forward. I fantasized about being on the cover of 17, which I’m sure plenty of girls do. I thought what a glamorous life I would have: I would live in LA with a pretty boy who would do everything for me, and I could just wile my days away shopping and walking my dog, like on Legally Blonde. No wonder everyone thinks they want to be young again when it looks so glamorous and wonderful on all the magazines and in the movies. Even the video games only feature busty, young women. Only recently have women in film ventured into their 40’s, and gasp, beyond… Nope women don’t die when they turn 50, and they aren’t all only mothers, grandmothers or haggard looking witches. Finally we are starting to see in TV series and movies women that are multi-dimensional, and older than 35... they have careers, they have plans to change the world. And, not all of them want children… and, that’s okay.

We finally have real role models, too, that didn’t seem to exist when I was a teenager. Maybe they existed but weren’t getting a lot of attention, especially in the Midwest in a dairy town. Yes, there was Madonna, but she was just considered a pretty slut as far as most people were concerned; or apretty slut that could make a lot of money on records. She quickly became known for much more than that. She’s funny, smart, driven, philanthropic; in other words, multi-faceted. There’s always been Gloria Steinem, but unfortunately she’s stays on the down low, and I didn’t know that much about her, her work, or her activism. I remember when Geraldine Ferraro came on the scene as a potential Vice Presidential candidate in the 80’s. I was blown away by this concept, quietly of course, because who says a woman really knows what to do in a political position. I was really impressed and thought about how awesome it would be to have a strong role model for girls and women if a woman got into office. But as usual, she was systematically torn apart and discredited, just like Hillary, for her looks and age.

Men don’t seem to have this problem. However, I’ve noticed recently there are more TV shows and movies that are objectifying men just as much as women now. I don’t think this is necessarily equality, but it’s a step in the right direction. At least it feels like it’s leveling out the playing field and holding the standards that men have had for decades for women in the media. These men don’t seem like they’re particularly old either, which is interesting, because traditionally male actors can have a much longer acting career than women, and get paid a lot more for doing it. I think the tides may be slowly changing, though. More female actors are calling out the pay discrepancies and there are slowly more female directors, and even producers calling for more relevant topics to be addressed. These new roles cover a wide range of new topics that seemed to be taboo not that long ago… take for instance the recent series, Grace and Frankie. Not even five years ago, this wouldn’t have been produced because the topics and even the very notion of two older women, in their 70’s, being the main characters in a sitcom would’ve been unfathomable. Yet, this sitcom has enjoyed three seasons, and has been renewed for a fourth. It opens a whole new world of possibilities to me. It features older women, who are divorced, to gay men, and that created a business making vibrators. I mean this is amazing. And, they have proved that there is a market for this type of show, for women in media. I’m very encouraged by this show’s long run and the possibilities it has created just by being created. Yes, they look good for their ages (which is of course an ageist comment that we have become accustomed to) and Jane Fonda’s character tries to be perfect in all ways and overly concerned about how she looks, but her character really evolves from starting off that way to being less concerned about that and more concerned about what life is really about: friends, family and really living.

If more and more good examples of women in the media become more prevalent (such as Grace and Frankie or Girl Boss, to name a couple), including magazines, news shows, TV series and movies, I think people will eventually become less judgmental about how people look, especially women. And, as women become more vocal and confident about being multi-faceted, and having multiple interests (other than looks and having a family), I think the whole ageist approach will fade away. It’s certainly making a difference in my life; as I see more role models in the media, politics and in business, I’m definitely rethinking my beliefs about aging. I don’t think it stinks to age any more. I wouldn’t want to be that 17 year old again, with the same insecurities, thinking that I needed to be and look perfect all the time. I’m me, and always will be.

Comments 39

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maeann
Aug 08, 2017
Aug 08, 2017

Hi Jlanghus. Thank you for sharing your story about aging.  I believe that all of us will reach a point of aging.  But what more important is how we become a mature person for those various experienced in our lives.  One thing that matters most is to know the purpose of your life.....

Jill Langhus
Aug 10, 2017
Aug 10, 2017

Hi Maeann. You're welcome. I agree. Thanks for your feedback:-)

Genevieve Kohn
Aug 09, 2017
Aug 09, 2017

I love this! I can relate to your thoughts and beliefs about aging and women. It's interesting how we so often confirm to society's notions about those too. Well-written and it's given me something to think about!

Jill Langhus
Aug 10, 2017
Aug 10, 2017

Thanks, Genevieve, for your feedback and for reading my story. I'm glad it resonated:-) And, welcome to World Pulse!

Sambridhi
Aug 09, 2017
Aug 09, 2017

As a person fearing ageing myself, this article put me into a new light. Great work. :) 

Jill Langhus
Aug 10, 2017
Aug 10, 2017

Aw. Don't fear aging, Sambridhi. You are you, and always be the same lovely person. Thank you for your feedback:)

Kaitlyn McLay
Aug 09, 2017
Aug 09, 2017

Thank you so much for posting Jill!  It is so inspirational to have someone mention the issues women face in society at any age and mentioning that there is hope and it is changing for the better!  Thank you so much! 

Jill Langhus
Aug 10, 2017
Aug 10, 2017

You're welcome:-) Thanks for the awesome feedback and for joining WP. I think you'll like it here:)

Sally maforchi Mboumien
Aug 13, 2017
Aug 13, 2017

Thanks Jill for educating us. Age is a societal concept which should never influence the output of anybody. I am glad because your influence on social media and great participation on World Pulse as an encourager rewrites the literature

Jill Langhus
Aug 14, 2017
Aug 14, 2017

Hi Sally:-) You're welcome. I'm glad you found it educational. Very true. Thank you for the wonderful compliment. I really appreciate it:-)

Chi Karen
Aug 22, 2017
Aug 22, 2017

Hello jlanghus.. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I relate to some of your thoughts while I was still a teenager but I am still being myself even as I grow old. 

Jill Langhus
Aug 23, 2017
Aug 23, 2017

You're welcome. Thanks for reading my story:) Always be yourself. Authenticity is key to living your life on purpose...:-)

Evelyn Fonkem
Aug 23, 2017
Aug 23, 2017

Hi jlanghus this is such a wonderful article.Aging is a gift from God.In the society today,you see many people changing their ages on their birth certificate to always show the world they are young.Thanks for sharing. 

Jill Langhus
Aug 23, 2017
Aug 23, 2017

Aw, thanks, Evelyn:) I appreciate it. People can lie all they want, but at the end of the day they're only deceiving themselves...

Mariatu Lawan
Aug 26, 2017
Aug 26, 2017

Thanks jlanghus for sharing your story, it is an inspiration for young girls like us, who are always afraid of been cut up with age and end up with the wrong decision of getting married at a young age

Jill Langhus
Aug 26, 2017
Aug 26, 2017

You're welcome:) I think everything happens for a reason. Regret is a waste of time. It's far better to accept what we gone through and to see it as a lesson for growth to me.

leila Kigha
Aug 26, 2017
Aug 26, 2017

Wonderful piece Jlanghus!

i love this piece, I love it. 

It just comes to affirm what I have come to believe about life. "I am me and always will be."

i agree with you, I don't want to be 17 and I secured anymore, I choose to age gracefully and let wisdom and experiences I have had enable me live purposefully.

oh you made my evening!

Jill Langhus
Aug 27, 2017
Aug 27, 2017

Hi Leila. I'm glad you liked my story so much. Thanks for your feedback. It encourages me to think about writing another story in the future:-)

Jill Langhus
Aug 30, 2017
Aug 30, 2017

Hi Hena. You're very welcome:) I agree about continually learning in life. Thank you for the encouragement. I appreciate it!

Lily Habesha
Sep 06, 2017
Sep 06, 2017

Hello Jill,

The internet works well and found two posts from two beautiful ladies. From you and Tam.

In my place, if you don't have your income, people think you're....

You've a dgree and good income,...they see you as...if you don't marry.

You marry well and have no child...they see you as...

you will be labled for all those things. They judge you. Around my parents house, seven sister, well educated, good job, car...etc. only two of them married. Family and friends tell the rest of them----- and ----are blessed.

They come to another friend's house..."Are we cursed?" they laughed from their hearts.

any time i leave my house, " Why don't you marry? If you don't want a husband, why don't you have a child?...why?....why?"

My answer is always same. " Live your own life, and let me be...myself." But in Ethiopia, nobody will listen to you.

Friends want to arrange marriage, families...in my family, we respect each other.

I moved 25 km away. The new neighbors, ..." Do you've a child?"

No, I don't.

" Why? ...."

I don't open my house except for the 7 years old twins...

People can say anything. Live the way you want. nobody can tell you who you are or you should be. Life is beautiful when we live according to our choices.

I don't see you as old woman. You're more active and full of energy than our young girls.

I'm proud of you

Lily

Jill Langhus
Sep 06, 2017
Sep 06, 2017

Hi Lily. Thanks for reading my story. Yes, people will always judge... if we let them. I'm working on not caring what people think. Unfortunately, I do more than what I would like, but I still do whatever I want regardless of their opinions at the end of the day, anyway, which is the most important thing... it's the only way to live an authentic life while being true to me, always. I think you do this same:) Thanks, too, for saying that you don't see my as old and that you are proud of me.... I appreciate it!

Lily Habesha
Sep 06, 2017
Sep 06, 2017

Jill, You are such a cute girl. Your picture makes me smile.

Lily

Jill Langhus
Sep 06, 2017
Sep 06, 2017

Thank you:-) Good to hear...

Mba Madapeu
Sep 06, 2017
Sep 06, 2017

Jlangus,  my dear..the media  is somethingelse..that how it contribute  to stereotypes  about women, portraying women as weak and fit for a particular  role..I think we need to deconstruct  the  minds behind  those cameras...

Jill Langhus
Sep 06, 2017
Sep 06, 2017

Yes, and somehow encourage more women to speak up and be interested in being producers, directors as well as actors, etc.

Neelia Seyer
Oct 14, 2017
Oct 14, 2017

Good read! And thanks for sharing your story. People can judge all they want, good that you don't let it get to you. Stats and age are just numbers. Cuidate!

Jill Langhus
Oct 14, 2017
Oct 14, 2017

Thank you:) I think that it gets to me, but I push through the fear and live authentically anyway:-)

Love arundhati
Nov 05, 2017
Nov 05, 2017

I greatly appreciate the time you've taken to share your story with me. Thank you.

Jill Langhus
Nov 05, 2017
Nov 05, 2017

Aw, you're welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read it:)

Hina Bhagat
Nov 09, 2017
Nov 09, 2017

sorry dear !! am trying to text you but it won't work and this is continuously showing :/ :(

"Your message was not sent because you have exceeded your sending limit. You are allowed to send 10 messages every 1 day. You can send your next message in in 14 hours 44 min 9 sec."

Jill Langhus
Nov 09, 2017
Nov 09, 2017

Hi Hina. I haven't heard of this error before. I didn't know it existed. It looks like you will need to wait, then. Sorry.

Hina Bhagat
Nov 09, 2017
Nov 09, 2017

it's all right :)

Jill Langhus
Nov 09, 2017
Nov 09, 2017

Okay... Have a good evening.

Hina Bhagat
Nov 09, 2017
Nov 09, 2017

same to you love :)

Hilaire Murhula
Nov 14, 2017
Nov 14, 2017

 

Rekabi Rafika
Dec 23, 2017
Dec 23, 2017

I enjoyed reading your story ,keep up and yes ! I’m me, and always will be.

Jill Langhus
Jan 21, 2018
Jan 21, 2018

Thank you, Queen Moufida:-) I appreciate your feedback.

Wendy Stebbins
Jan 20, 2018
Jan 20, 2018

Thanks for your message on my post. Nice to hear from you again. I like your article, especially this one.

Jill Langhus
Jan 21, 2018
Jan 21, 2018

Thanks, Wendy. You're welcome:-)