Stages of Womanhood
"There are 3 stages of womanhood that we all travel."
As with everything in nature they are perfectly orchestrated stages not related to age per say, but rather to how we show up as women in the world; Maiden, Mother and Maven. Despite being a perfectly natural progression, moving through these stages in modern culture can be difficult. The problem stems from the fact that our culture does not value all of the stages equally. The first stage, Maiden, is held up as the standard of measurement for all women, no matter what age or stage we’re at. The second stage, Mother is appreciated because, well…. procreation. But that appreciation is not without conditions. Think of all the “Get back to your pre-baby body in (some ridiculous arbitrary prescribed time)” BS that exists out there. The third stage, Maven, which begins post child raising years is the least valued of the stages. It is at best overlooked and at worst completely devalued.
"The definition of the word ‘Maven’ is a trusted expert."
The definition of the word maven is a trusted expert. It is the longest of all the stages spanning as many as 40 or 50 years and acknowledges the wisdom, knowledge and experience collected over time. If we as a culture only see value in the first two stages of womanhood we are in fact overlooking the largest part of a woman’s life. The sad part is that even us, as women often buy into the same limited value perceptions of this stage by focusing on looks and de-valuing the other aspects of who we have become. While we may know that we are much stronger and smarter than we were back then, we default to comparing our facial lines, shifting bodies and greying hair to previous versions of ourselves. It’s easy to understand why. Women are applauded time and time again for maintaining youthful looks as they age.
"All women should do what they can to feel their best as an act of self-care and confidence."
Don’t get me wrong, I think all women should do what they can to feel their best as an act of self-care and confidence, whatever that means to you. Hell, I’m right there with you. I have lash extensions -much less invasive than a face lift and it means it don’t have to put on make-up every day, I dye my hair because I don't think grey goes well with my complexion and I work out, yes for health reasons, but also because I want to look good in my jeans. Midlife women today are not what previous generations were. Looking good matters to us. We feel youthful and vibrant on the inside and we want that to be reflected on the outside too. But can we also look in the mirror and truly see the amazing women we have become, beyond our aging looks? Can we respect and honour the Mavens we are without lamenting who we used to be? Can we focus the knowledge, insight and experience we have earned towards meaningful endeavours like conquering fears, chasing dreams and discovering new parts of ourselves and our lives. My hope is that we as midlife women can begin to honour respect and embody the Maven stage of womanhood so that we in turn can show the world the inherent value of this stage of life.