A case study in how to not apologize

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife

This morning Jessica posted this photo to Instagram.

Like a lot of women who are born and bred in Los Angeles I have a difficult relationship with the sun. I love it. I love summer more than anything and if I had a zillion dollars I’d chase the summer all over the globe. Alas, the sun is responsible for most of our skin’s aging and we need to protect our eyes as well. So I’m slathered in sunscreen (read about that on the blog), and often in a hat and sunglasses too. I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look. #romper #ChanelSunglasses #clubmonaco #over40style #realoutfitgram

A post shared by Jessica & Stefanie | Midlife (@wearemidlife) on


You’ll notice that the caption ends with:

I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look.

Jessica and I have very different figures but we are exactly the same size in clothing and shoes. We don’t wear the same things often because every body is different and one of the things that we’ve both experienced since launching @WeAreMidlife is an appreciation for our bodies as support for our minds, emotions, and health. Interestingly all these photos have freed us from some levels of vanity. We wear less makeup, we don’t touch up imperfections (except cracks on walls), and we’ve learned to delight in the photos our midlife community shares on Instagram. It’s a really special corner of the web most of the time.

We share photos of ourselves in outfits and settings where we are not always feeling most confident.

Shortly after posting this morning Jessica texted me a photo that the founder of a blouse company had shared. It’s a woman who looks an awful lot like Jessica sitting on the subway, minding her own business, and looking adorable for springtime. Unfortunately the founder of this company snapped this woman’s photo …. well, you take a look.

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife: This photo was taken of another person without her permission and shared publicly as what not to wear. We disagree. We think she looks fabulous on the outside and we're willing to bet she'd prettier on the inside than the person who took her photo.

You will never convince me that humiliating strangers will sell a blouse. For the record (not that it should matter), this subway riding lady looked good.

Since we share an account, before we do anything that could be seen as controversial we always chat. After a quick phone call to follow up we left the following comment:

Gentle reminder: this is a real person with real feelings. 

After which many other comments were left in the same vein. Some not so kind. Some downright angry. The account owner was defensive and seemed to genuinely believe that this photo was providing some sort of public service.

After a few back and forths with a rabid Instagram community the photo was removed and this was posted. I’ve blocked out the names because we do believe that the account owner is entitled to make mistakes in relative privacy. It’s a small account and we hope that after some introspection there will be enlightenment.

A case study in how to not apologize

@WeAreMidlife has been on Instagram for almost a year now, and we started this account to celebrate women in midlife – but really women at any age. This is the first online community that I can say I’ve created. I’ve found it to be both rewarding and fascinating. Many people that we follow and who follow us feel like friends now, and I enjoy that immensely. This is a new and exciting experience for me.

Recently a woman who I’ve never met before, but have interacted with a lot on Instagram was body shamed. Many people stood up to the bullying, reported it to Instagram, and then Instagram shut down the account.

Glamour Magazine’s Do’s and Don’ts page was a source of young adult angst for me. I remember getting dressed in my early 20’s thinking, “Thank God I don’t live in New York City – I am sure that I am a Glamour Don’t right now.” It took me a while to figure out my style and I made many a fashion faux pas.

I can’t imagine a photo of me being on the internet as the subject of ridicule, can you?

Author Brene Brown said in her book Rising Strong, “appearance and body-image fear- the most common shame trigger for women.” When you want to hurt a woman emotionally, criticize her appearance.

Not long ago former Playboy model Dani Mathers took a picture of an unsuspecting nude 70 year old woman in the locker room of her gym. When she posted it on SnapChat for all of her followers to see it became a crime.

What I saw today was no different than what Mathers did to her victim. Which leads me to say, a 70 year old women should be celebrated, heck she’s at the gym-you go girl! Dani Mothers is now banned from all LA Fitness gyms and has been sentenced to 30 days (240 hours) of graffiti removal and had to take an anti-bullying course. After looking at her twitter account I am not sure she has learned much from this experience.

I am glad to see people standing up to body shaming and bullying in any way.

I am hopeful that we can present our daughters and sons opportunities to build their self esteem so that they are builders of communities like our friend Jaimie. I hope that I’m raising kids who recognize the beauty in the people around them. I hope that younger women on Instagram can see our account and see that there is so much to benefit from by encouraging everyone. First they must have solid role models, and we are obligated to be those role models.

We Want to Be In Your Inbox

Though Instagram is our primary community we treasure these pages for longer form writing. With that in mind we have decided to send a weekly email to our readers. Last week we sent a short but sweet email reminding y’all of why we exist.

The content is hosted here, but if you don’t feel like clicking, this is what we said:

When we told our friends that we were going to establish an online community devoted to midlife they looked at us a little funny. The only midlife discussion seems to be The Midlife Crisis, which, interestingly enough, is not a crisis at all and will be discussed at a later date.

Midlife for us is something between your 40’s and your 50’s. That’s all we’ve got! There’s no longer anything homogenous about midlife. We aren’t all grandmothers; we aren’t all mothers. Some of us will have our first child at 42, some of us will never have children, some of us will never long for children at all.

Midlife may be the time when you retire early or the time we begin new careers. You may find feminism, religion, or both in midlife. You may reject everything and take off on a trip around the world; you may pay off your mortgage and settle in for the duration.

Midlife women know their strengths and weaknesses. We know what looks good on us and what’s in style. We know which styles to ignore (remember when neon was popular again for 20 seconds?). Midlife women manage budgets and examine amortization schedules before signing loan docs.

We’ve spent 40 or more years refining our tastes, prioritizing our lives, and sometimes… coveting shiny objects. So here we are, solidly in midlife, and we will celebrate the shiny things, but also the healthy things, the oddball things, and the compelling things.

We won’t talk about the political things. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we care with such passion that we all need a break.

Here’s to the shiny things.

Jessica & Stefanie

This week we are sending you to one of our favorite Instagram accounts (not ours), recommending a book, sharing a profoundly insightful essay about moving forward in life, and telling you about a special in store event from a department store everyone loves.

We hope you will sign up for it. We hope you will share with friends.

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