When my mom and my then husband saw that I was launching a website called Formerly Hot, essentially about no longer being the chick I was for most of my life, they fell all over themselves to reassure me that I am, in fact, still hot, in my own not-so-young-anymore kind of way. My husband very sweetly told me I could get fat(ter), saggy(er), blotch(ier) and my pores could continue to expand like crop circles all over my face and to him, I would still be the relatively young and desirable woman he married. Bless him. My mother simply took issue with the idea that older women were no longer hot, and chided me for putting myself down.

That’s when I realized I needed to clarify my mission.

This website is not a marathon fishing-for-compliments trip (although I won’t be turning any down). I know I still look fine, and on a good day, great. I wholeheartedly agree with my mom’s estimation that a woman’s hotness is not necessarily inversely proportional to how many candles she has on her birthday cake.

Formerly Hot is about looking at the unvarnished truth about getting older–the good, the bad, and those unexpected bitchslaps that still seem to come out of nowhere, even if you’re relatively well adjusted to the fact that you’re not forever 21. It’s about those moments–whether it’s when you’re the one wishing your neighbors would turn down the damn music because it’s after 10, or when you’re bracing yourself for the come-on that never comes–when it is suddenly ultra clear that you’re occupying an entirely new category of human being.

When I first realized I was a Formerly, my main indicator was how far away I had moved from the standard perfectly symmetrical, thin, perky-boobed female ideal (not that I had ever arrived.) It became pretty clear pretty quickly that this whole Formerly transformation had only partly to do with my looks. In fact, the shift was much more profound.

And wonderful. The longer I spent on this side of young, the clearer it became that Formerly Territory was a much happier place to live, for me and the hundreds of women I spoke to about it. There are distinct upsides to being a Formerly, ones that no one talks about. I used to feel like a composite of other people’s opinions of me; now, I am comfortable with who I am, and other people’s opinions are, well, just their opinions. I follow my instincts, what’s comfortable for me, rather than what I think I “should” do or what everyone else seems to think is the move. Life feel less intense, less dramatic, more relaxed and peaceful. In other words, time passes. Things change. And that’s cool.

Except when it’s not. Getting older, even if you’re not old, can sometimes suck! It would be nice not to have to look up every texting abbreviation someone sends to be before replying, for instance. I used to know such things. I’m not going to tell you that I welcome every wrinkle and pucker as a symbol of the rich and wise life my trusty body and I have lived happily together. I am regularly shocked by the new iteration of me that stares back from the mirror. I promise never to tell you that you must “embrace your life changes” that 50 is the new 40 is the new 30 is the new 29. You are what you are but you don’t always have to be smiling about it.

On balance, though, even as I’m letting go of the stuff I thought was indispensable to happiness when I was younger, I’m happier than my younger self ever could have imagined.

So enjoy and please contribute! You can upload a picture or a video and your story and have fun making fun. It’s all good at Formerly Hot, and you have nothing to prove.

You can also check out some of my other work at www.stephaniedolgoff.com.

Everything on this site is Copyright Stephanie Dolgoff 2008-2010