This Is 40ish: Body & Health

#ThisIs40ish

Body & Health

How we feel about our bodies, how we feel about getting old and how we feel about comfortable undies. (Comfortable undies are terrific.)

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52 percent of women feel they need to lose at least 20 pounds.

51 percent occasionally compare their bodies to the bodies of women they know. 34 percent of women do it constantly.

We ask

How can we stop this, already?

“There’s this false perception that somehow, as women age, they grow out of their body-image issues,” says Dr. Shelly Russell-Mayhew, counselling psychologist and associate professor at the University of Calgary. There’s no age limit to feeling terrible about the skin we live in — and not just when some hot young thing is strutting around in a commercial, but because your best friend got a facial and eight straight hours of sleep and she looks amazing. When we size ourselves up against other women, we’re engaging in something called social comparison theory, determining our self-worth based on the yardstick of someone else’s attractiveness or wealth or success. There’s no objective measurement here; it’s all in our heads.

But here’s the thing: Our heads can also get us out of this mess, since when it comes to mental well-being, believing yourself to be fat is more harmful than actual obesity. “Weight is just your relationship with gravity,” Russell-Mayhew says. “There are more important measures of physical health, like your blood profile or lipids. And in a number of studies, when people say, ‘I think my size is just right,’ regardless of weight status, they have better psychological health.” So instead of spending a bunch of energy wishing for slim hips like Susan’s in accounting, channel that energy into doing something that makes you feel good, like after-work yoga or eating a doughnut just because you want to. No apologies — and no side-eye to see if Susan’s snacking too. — Sarah Boesveld

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15 percent let their pubic hair do its own thing. What do the rest do?

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The Nitty-Gritty
  • Trim27%
  • Shave56%
  • Bikini wax9%
  • Brazilian7%

57 percent of women pop pimples.

Pimple Popping

88 percent of women spend half an hour or less getting ready in the morning.

The Nitty-Gritty
  • 5 minutes14%
  • 10–15 minutes41%
  • 30 minutes33%
  • An hour10%
  • More than an hour3%
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When it comes to underwear, 89 percent opt for comfortable over sexy.

90 percent washed their bras sometime in the past week.

29 percent of women don’t see their family doctor as much as they should.

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65 percent have struggled with depression or anxiety. Of these, 48 percent are self-diagnosed.

We ask

Can self-diagnosis still do the trick?

“Compared with five or 10 years ago, there are so many credible online resources now for people to self-manage mental health, especially with mild to moderate symptoms. We can detect changes in our own moods, and self-care approaches —  a solid diet, or hobbies we like — are often our first lines of defence. We’re absolutely our own experts; we know ourselves best. But we’re not the most objective experts. And if the symptoms become severe, that’s when we need the assistance of a professional. My clients are smart, educated women, but I see many of them say, ‘I thought I was just tired, I had a kid, I wasn’t getting enough sleep — but I look back now and I realize it was depression.’” — Dr. Joti Samra, registered psychologist

Biggest health concern? For 25 percent of women, it’s cancer.

80 percent worry about getting old.

We ask

What do you worry about?

“We have this quote hanging in our house that says, ‘We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing.’ I feel like that’s important. But I went through a large part of my life before 40 where I thought, Oh, not being able to do things, not feeling my best — that’s a long way away. And then there comes that point where you recognize that it’s not just your parents who get old, it’s you, too. I don’t worry about looking my age: I probably have more wrinkles than my friends, and I’m okay with that. But I have two stepkids who are 10 and eight, and a two-year-old son, and I want to keep up.” — Chantal, 40

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92 percent of women refuse to lie about their age.

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