(Cross posted from blog: Feminists in Student AffairsThe featured photo on this post is of my mother, Susan Shea, and me on my 40th birthday)

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the array of women’s magazine covers at the grocery store check out line, but aging ISN’T actually the worst thing to happen to women. Consider the headlines on a recent SHAPE magazine: “Age-Proof Your Body: The Best Moves & Foods To Do It” and “Sharon Stone: 56 & Hotter Than Ever: Her Stay-Sexy Secrets Inside”. Statements like these contribute to the anti-aging, diet, and beauty mega-industry whose ads fill nearly every page inside. These products, ranging from wonder creams to hair dye, promise a more youthful appearance and are marketed nearly exclusively to women. It’s no secret that we live in a culture obsessed with youth.

Today, on my fortieth birthday, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on aging and how the blatant double standards in our society harms all of us but specifically targets and undermines women. Much of the focus on aging has to do, after all with appearance and how one presents to the world. As we’ve discussed in other posts on this site, professional dress standards also disproportionately impact women in the work place and specifically in student affairs. Regarding age and appearance – I contend that we internalize the pervasive anti-aging media messages and these in turn impact how, as we grow older, our effectiveness is perceived and judged in personal and professional contexts.

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I began serving as a co-host of Student Affairs Live on the Higher Ed Live network in January of 2014. I was offered the opportunity to serve as one of two hosts after the previous host, my good friend Ed Cabellon, left to pursue other endeavors, including doctoral studies. It’s a humbling and rewarding experience to have a colleague believe in your abilities in this way and I really can’t stress enough how much I appreciate Ed’s faith in me to continue what he and others started. I co-host with another student affairs professional, Chris Butler. Four shows later, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to invite a larger dialogue around topics that are of interest in the field and contribute to an accessible alternative professional development outlet. I take this responsibility very seriously and have deeply enjoyed it so far.

A little about #HigherEdLive:

Higher Ed Live is a unique channel, comprised of several different live-streamed shows, most hosted on a bi-monthly basis, which include Student Affairs Live, Admissions Live, Advancement Live, and the parent show, Higher Ed Live. Viewers can watch the shows live via YouTube/Google+Hangouts or view recordings in syndication or subscribe to the podcast. To stay informed about future episodes, follow #HigherEdLive on twitter or subscribe to the newsletter. (more…)