Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
This past Saturday, actress and doting, single mom of three, Jennifer Garner, was spotted in her residential neighborhood of Brentwood jogging with a friend. While doing her best and incorporating some cardio exercise into her almost certainly busy day, she didn’t let the rain stop her.
The actress was caught running with a makeup-free face, hair pulled back in a messy bun, like most moms I know on most days. This is one of my absolute favorite things about Jennifer Garner, her relatability but at the same time absolute bad ass mom. Not everyone sees it that way. In fact, some critics were calling her names like “old plastic granny” and “platypus”, one man, even had the audacity to say, “Another single mother! She looks…60 years old grandma!” Be careful internet, your misogyny and ageism are showing.
Let me interject something, as a 50 year old woman who walks a 5K everyday rain or shine, sweltering heat or cold 40 degree mornings, without makeup, in a baseball cap, we are not doing any of it for you. Not for any of you. In fact, we give no shits about what you think we look like or think. We’re doing it for us. We are doing it for our children. We are doing it for the people we love and who love us. We give no fucks what 50 something Joe Single, who probably lives in his mama’s basement, thinks. Keep your opinions to yourself. Better yet, just shut all the way the fuck up.
Why does society think it has the right to comment on women’s looks? I don’t know Jennifer Garner’s “why” but I know mine. I am 50 years-old. I am newly peri menopausal and on some days it feels like my body is foreign to me. I physically and mentally look and feel differently than I did when I was younger. I have different priorities and a different perspective. That doesn’t mean I am less than, it means that I need to do what works for my new state of being. I’m diabetic. I have children and a husband who I adore and choose to revolve my life around because that is what I signed up for. I don’t regret it or begrudge it but, on some days, it can be really fucking hard and I’m human. Jennifer Garner is human and as much as we try to ignore hurtful comments, we’re human. Even if your opinion doesn’t matter, it hurts our feelings.
Do you know how hard it is to carve out 30 minutes to an hour a day to exercise? It feels like a luxury. It’s not. It is maintenance to stay alive. Some men spend hours a day at the gym trying to get shredded and no one is talking shit about them spending too much time away from their family or looking like a ball sack while sweating their asses off and making their taking a shit faces. No, they are commended. But let a mom, who already feels guilty for doing anything for herself, alone, even in the name of her health and everyone and their mom’s got to weigh in. Fuck them.
I walk for my health and sanity. I walk for Vitamin D, for my ADHD, for an hour to clear my mind and focus, honestly, on some days, for the health and safety of my family. I want to live to be a really old lady, one who might actually look like a platypus at 103 and you better believe that I will proudly be walking my 5K and looking like a drowned rat because this is for me and the people I love, not some random assholes who have nothing better than to do than criticize a woman doing what they aren’t capable of doing.
Getting older is hard for everyone. Nobody relishes the thought of feeling old, irrelevant or forgotten. Even though in this case, feeling forgotten would be the kinder option. Absolutely no one is excited about looking older. We all struggle. It takes time to acclimate and get used to our new state of being on a good day, without anyone pointing it out.
Society encourages us to grow old gracefully. We try. But that same society either treats us like we are invisible or offensive for simply trying to exist in a society not meant for us. Something I’ve realized as I age, I always feel 25 years old and, some days, I feel 18 and, then, there are the days when my knees feel 87. But on every single one of those days, I am worthy of existing. Aging does not mean that you are useless or have nothing left to contribute. We still have feelings and we are conscious of being pushed out and away. Everyone does. No one likes those feelings, not when we’re teenagers and we like them even less as adults. When I think of how our parents and grandparents must have felt, or feel, watching a world and society progress, while intentionally and aggressively telling them to stay put; treating them like they have nothing of worth to offer, it breaks my heart.
All this to say, it would have been absolutely weirder if Jennifer Garner would have been seen out running in the rain with a face full of makeup. Then the critics would have said she is trying too hard to hold on to her youth. See, you can’t win for losing in other people’s eyes so just be yourself, do you boo and be happy. Fuck the haters. They will never have what she has and not achieve what she’s achieved.
The only person any of us are accountable to is ourselves and the only people we owe any care to what they think is those people we love, and even then, it really boils down to what we think about ourselves. Love yourselves like your mama loved you. Run in the rain. Dance like no one’s watching. Speak your truth. The only person you need to care about what they think about you is YOU. Don’t let other people, smaller people than you, people who don’t matter tell you how to live your life. In a world of plastic and filters in a curated existence of perfection that doesn’t really exist, strive to be a real, good human. You are beautiful and you matter; you always have and you always will.