The Wisdom Behind the Wonderful, Aging Bodies of Women

Sister Hinckley was a sage of a Saint but I WONDER why no one ever told her she could have lost that extra weight around the middle if only she could have completely ditched the wheat and replaced a couple meals a day with some green smoothies, and perhaps started training for a marathon. And how is it that she didn't know about face peels? I actually DON'T wonder about this. I think she might have known about all these options... and more. You can't live in this world as a woman and not be constantly enticed by images of what society thinks is the ideal and ways that you can achieve it for yourself. But here's a little mash-up of Sister Hinckley sayings that give us a glimpse of what she thought:   

We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important...we have to learn to be content with what we are.

I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know that I was really here and that I really lived.
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Some of the best advice given to me about the purpose behind the hormonal shifts that occur as women age run counter to popularly held notions. Where voices of the world would have us cling to the younger, more physically appealing phase of our bodies, traditional wisdom points us down a different path. It reminds us that menopause is unique to humans. No other creature is freed from the roll of child-bearer in mid-life like women are. And, whereas "modern medicine treats menopause as a disease requiring treatment," traditional wisdom teaches that there is a purpose behind the shift; that it corresponds to a transition in life's focus. The decline in levels of female hormones and rise in levels of male hormones that occur at menopause are "nature's way of equipping [woman] for her new role as forager [in the context of seeking out that which is of worth for her family], worker and sage." (Wise Choices, Healthy Bodies: Diet for the Prevention of Women's Diseases, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig PhD, Weston A. Price Foundation)  

The idea that women should rejoice in the-thing-that-is menopause was so radically new to me that I had to write to one of the authors, who happens to be one of my favorite women, Sally Fallon Morrell, and plead for more information. In her response back was the following gem:

At menopause estrogen wanes, but if women allow themselves to gain a little weight, the fat on the midrift will keep producing estrogen. Women after menopause produce more male hormones, which is good for getting them out into the world to help make the world a better place!
— Sally Fallon Morrell

If women "allow themselves" to gain a little weight...I thought that was interesting. And just as with everything else, there is no temporal situation without a spiritual, for the two are inseparable. When it comes to obsessing and fighting with our aging bodies we would be wise to consider the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland when he said "In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women...face in the modern world."

 Sister Frances Monson, dear-departed wife of President Thomas S. Monson, seated comfortably   in her own skin

Sister Frances Monson, dear-departed wife of President Thomas S. Monson, seated comfortably   in her own skin

When I skid, broadside, up to the pearly gates, I can guarantee it won't be in the same-sized jeans I wore in high school. And I can imagine they'll probably have a few smudges on them from things like canning salsa, flipping pancakes at the neighborhood 4th of July celebration and teaching the young people how to plant a garden.

What about you? 

Listen to our discussion on this topic