Why Are Insults A Side Effect Of Aging?

Half Truth: Women are resistant to aging.

Whole Truth: Women are engaging in ego protection, to build thick skins against the many insults and disrespect that come hand-in-hand with aging.

A few months ago I was shopping for sexy evening shoes, a Rorschach test for any woman’s mojo. Ballet flats are practical for everyday, but stilettos keep a woman in the game.

All around me, 20-something shoppers were picking out the most gorgeous and painful-looking styles, while I kept looking for the perfect pair of great but not too high sandals. But suddenly I spotted them. I picked up a pair of superhigh, sparkly Stuart Weitzman pumps and asked the balding salesman for them in my size. (I only mention ‘balding’ to give you a heads up where this is headed.)

He brought them out and I slipped them on (or rather tried to stuff my toes inside) and gingerly stepped to the mirror, feeling not quite like a Vegas showgirl but darn close. I asked casually if he had the next bigger size and he said no. But I was smitten, and I couldn’t take them off. I said to him, ‘Maybe I can make these work.’ And he looked at me, shook his head, and whispered, ‘When you get to be our age, you don’t do dumb things the second time around. You need to order a bigger size.’

Our age? Second time around? But I’m only . . . ! Somehow the shoes had lost their shine. Ego-shattering moments lurk just around the bend for women of every age and at every stage of life, like being asked when you’re due when you’re not even pregnant, or being called ‘ma’am’ for the first time (yes, we know it’s a courtesy, but not when you’re only 32).

In everyday life, women dodge the slings and arrows hurled their way in the form of left-handed compliments or unintended disrespect. It’s bad enough when a teen son rejects his mom’s friend request on Facebook; it’s unforgiveable when women feel dissed or underestimated by the products they buy and the people they buy from. So it’s not surprising that women adopt the coping mechanism of Ego Protection, the fourth Half Truth, to shore up their best beliefs about who they are.

Want to learn more about half and whole truths? This post is straight from our book, What She’s Not Telling You: Why Women Hide the Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It. Read the first chapter online HERE, and grab a copy for yourself from Amazon.

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