Low self-esteem and self-doubt about appearance or place in life may seem like a problem that women of a younger age probably experience. It’s like a classic trope - the insecure teenage girl or the lost, wayward 20-something looking for her place. Rarely are older women portrayed as insecure or self-doubting, perhaps because wisdom does actually come with age, or because women start to care less about the opinion of others as time and experience shape them. While age may factor into a woman’s confidence in one way or another, it would be unfair to assume that self-esteem may not be a serious problem for women of any age to face. The impact of lacking self-esteem can actually be pretty extensive, both physically and mentally.
Why Self-Esteem Declines as We AgeLike we mentioned before, feelings of self-doubt or low self-esteem can impact anyone at any age, however, the set of challenges and complications presented to a 16-year-old girl that may be causing these feelings are likely to look quite different than the set of complications facing a 61-year-old woman. There can be so many reasons for the decline in confidence, as everybody is different and everyone’s experiences that shape them are different. However, there are some common factors that may be contributing to declining self-esteem in women of the age of 50. Change in Appearance - It is common knowledge that as we age, our bodies begin to change. Hair turns gray, skin begins to sag, wrinkles form, and we gain a little weight. While all of these changes are completely natural, our society is geared to cater and advertise towards younger people that oftentimes do not reflect what older women actually look like. Perceived Negative Milestones - As we age, we hit a lot of “milestones” in our lives. Most are positive like becoming a grandparent or retiring, but some are negative like the loss of a loved one or spouse or having to downsize living space. These are tangible reminders of one’s age. Health Complications - Developing health problems becomes more likely as we age, but these can also have a huge impact on self-esteem and the feeling of independence. While some complications may not present themselves as serious or debilitating, they can still be embarrassing or inconvenient, like light bladder leaks or arthritis. Money - With retirement comes a loss of income, and while plenty of Americans have set up retirement funds and receive financial assistance through government services like Social Security, plenty of older people are finding themselves in financial dire straits. In addition, our society has long projected the message “money = power and status”, so for older people to not have either may take a blow to self-image. Feeling Ignored - A 2014 study of 2,000 women over the age of 45 revealed that they often times felt “invisible”. Here were the results:
- 75 percent felt ignored by men when they walked into a crowded room.
- 50 percent felt as if they’d been “left on a shelf” and were judged negatively because of their age.
- 60 percent felt that society was geared toward younger women.
- 50 percent wished there was more focus on the plight of older women.
- Only 15 percent of the women surveyed reported feeling confident in any area of their life.