I was lying in bed, scrolling through Instagram, when I stumbled into the profile updates of veteran Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw. If you are familiar with Kate Henshaw’s brand, then you know her social media is focused on her love for fitness and healthy eating. So really, that she looks this hot at her new age should not come too surprising, after all, those in the fitness world will even say that she has worked hard for it. Still, nothing prepared me for how completely blown away by the video of her twerking, and in those heels! It didn’t even help that as I lay in bed watching aunty Kate, my own body was in severe pain because I took a two-mile walk after a fitness break of over one week. *cries in joint pain.
Anyway, Kate Henshaw looks great, as does Ciara, Gabrielle Union, Rita Dominic. That these black women are aging, like we say, gracefully, is not the debate. Thing is, it’s not also as simple as lifting weights or drinking a gallon of water. Sure, 50 squats will help your glutes, but if we go by the principle of exercise, then women athletes should age most graciously. Sadly, this is not quite the case. So, what then is it? Genes? Beauty privilege? Why the heck is Henshaw taut and toned at an age where many are losing body mass? This is what I was thinking about that made me decide to write this piece.
The thing is, we have learnt to view bodies in a certain way. Lean and strong has benefits, many of which impact how we experience life as we start to get older. So please o, I’m not saying to ignore how glorious Kate Henshaw looks at 50. But what if there are also other ways a body can look to be considered to age with grace? I have written before about how complex the question of beauty and aging is, and how the obsession on how a woman’s body is supposed to behave is constantly being constructed by society. The way to resist this is to acknowledge multiplicity, to admit that there are some women who, by virtue of their bone structure and genes will never have the same output as Kate. And sis, maybe like me, you are even one of them, what next?
There are many ways that you can still ensure that you optimize your aging, which doesn’t necessarily involve spending two hours in the gym every day. I guess what I’m trying to say is that exercise, in general, is great, and we should all keep fit in that sense. However, input doesn’t necessarily always translate to output, and that is fine o. What you can do in your own little way is:
- Love your body in the way your body wants to be loved. It might be three hours in a gym, it might be an extra two hours of sleep. It could be focused on certain foods that keep your mind sharp. It will require you to listen to your body.
- Define your priorities. This doesn’t mean that physical fitness is not top notch, but there are other aspects of life that need to age well too. Your relationships, retirement plans, mind functionality etc.
- Keep things in perspective. Grace is not about perfection but about carrying your flaws well, in a way that becomes inspiring to those who see it. So, celebrate your body and the life and opportunities it has given you. It might not be the conventional option for a magazine cover, but it has brought you so far. And with the right perspective, it will take you much further.