15 Ways Women's Bodies Change As We Age (That Are Nothing To Be Ashamed Of)

The beauty industry wants you to think your aging body is weird. It's not.

beautiful aging woman with curly brown hair stands on sand in front of vibrant sky simona pilolla  / Shutterstock.com

When you go through puberty, you're told that your body is going to change.

If you're lucky, your parents made you feel loved and accepted during the process, guiding you through shaving and deodorant and all the stages of your body's change and growth. 

But puberty isn't the only time our bodies change.

Nobody talks about how natural and healthy our life-long hormonal changes are — the ones that cause our skin to loosen and wrinkle; the ones that make the texture of our flesh lumpy and bumpy; the ones that alter our adipose tissue.


These changes to our bodies as we age are normal and they're somewhat inevitable. And they're nothing to be ashamed of.

Even more importantly, aging can be beautiful.

In order to see ourselves this way, we need to shed the societal messaging that aging is bad, and something we need to fight against. 

Here's the truth:

You don't have to reject your own body and the passage of time. In fact, it's battle you'll never win. 

You can simply be yourself and exist in the world.

RELATED: I'm Sick Of Everyone Acting Like My Aging Body Needs To Be 'Fixed'

In order to do that, I think we need to start talking about the funny, weird and unexpected things that happen as we age. 


Somewhere along the way — probably as part of the multi-billion dollar beauty and fitness industry's attempts to shame us for being anything other than "perfect" — these things have become secrets.

Gaining weight or losing some hair suddenly makes you feel weird and alone, as if you've failed.

And I'm sorry, but that's total bullsh*t.

If you don't know what's going on, you may see your body's changes as signs that you're not doing enough to "stay young" — and that's simply not true. You are normal! Your body is doing totally normal things! 

Of course, you can partake in any aspects of beauty maintenance that feel right to you, whether it's cosmetic surgery or a simple moisturizing serum, but please know that whatever you choose to do is enough


You and your changing body are good enough. 

To help prepare you and help you feel less alone, here's a list of changes you may experience in your body as you age.

Please note that each body is unique and will do its own thing. You may have all of these or none of these or even additional experiences that aren't on this list. But no matter what, it's important to remember that you're not alone. 

1. Your body shape may change. 

This is totally normal. The toughest part of this, for me, is that I have to learn how to dress myself comfortably (and cutely) every time my body shape shifts. 

When I was 24, I was a size zero with small boobs and broad shoulders. It was easy to find clothes that fit and I rarely needed to wear a bra.


Then I had a baby and my boobs got bigger and I gained a little weight. I had to shift and adjust to that change.

When turned 38 my waist curved in less. Suddenly I had hips, too, and the jeans I'd been wearing for five years were uncomfortable and fit awkwardly. 

According to The Mayo Clinic, this is pretty typical, as a decrease in estrogen can cause women's bodies to store more belly fat — even if we don't gain weight.

Now, at 43, my body has changed again, and once more I'm figuring out what's cute and comfortable, but still feels authentic to me.

This is normal. It's all a normal and even healthy process. 

2. Your hair and eyebrows may get thinner.

You can use products to lessen this effect, but if you notice it and your doctor thinks it's just natural aging, please know this is very common! 


Most of us are with you in that club, you just don't notice anyone else's hair thickness as much as your own! Same goes for your eyebrows.

The Cleveland Clinic affirms that this is totally normal. Once again, blame hormones!

"Sex hormones that help stimulate follicle fibers are diminished and frequently there is a a slight dominance of testosterone. Because of these aging and environmental changes, some hair follicles stop producing new hair altogether," their website explains.

3. The skin and flesh under your arms may droop.

It's physics and hormones. Things get loose. Yes, you can get ripped and try to lose weight, but your arms won't look like they did when you were 22 and that is perfectly OK. 


This will also likely happen to the skin on your back. It's just life and is not a reflection of your health or well-being. It simply has to do with a loss of collagen in our bodies, as well as a decrease in overall muscle mass.

4. Your belly skin will likely change a lot.

This is especially true if your abdomen has grown a lot while pregnant, which has led people to reclaim the beauty of their post-pregnancy stretch marks and belly rolls — which I love!

But your skin may also lose tone, change texture, and becoming lumpy or uneven in ways you weren't expecting even well after your kids are babies.

I have a roll of weird fat under my boobs. I don't love it, but it's my body and it's there. I could go get Coolsculpting to get rid of it (and maybe I will, you never know), but that doesn't undo the reality that this is a part of what happened when I got older and there's nothing wrong with it. 


Again, it has to do with those pesky old hormones!

RELATED: 21 Quotes That Will Get You Excited About Aging 

5. Your belly may fold or roll differently.

I dont know why this happens, but it's something more than just gaining weight or getting wrinkles. No doubt it has to do with collagen and muscle mass and hormones, like everything else.

Just know that it happens to almost everyone, and it's perfectly fine! 

6. Your boobs might droop or sag.

You can get them lifted or enhanced with plastic surgery, and if that's meaningful to you, do it.

But your boobs are OK regardless. Just be sure you're taking care of your breast health by seeing your doctor and following their advice as far as regular exams and mammograms. 


7. You'll likely lose muscle definition. 

It has to do with hormones, skin elasticity, changes in adipose tissue and connective tissues, but the most important thing to remember is that it's natural to not look as "cut" as we get older. There's not a whole ton you can do about it except love your body and thank it for moving you through the world.

There are great health-related reasons to continue building and maintaining muscle tone, including reducing the risk of bone mass loss and cardiovascular benefits, so definitely don't give up on exercise simply because your body doesn't respond like it used to.

8. You may develop age spots or skin tone inconsistencies.

Yes, you probably will. That's because almost all of us have had some unprotected exposure to UV light, which affects our cells even years later. 

If you don't like them, you can ask your dermo about how to treat them, or try one of the many over-the-counter products. But it's also OK if you just let them be.


But they don't give you "bad skin" if you have them — after all, your skin works fine, it just has new stuff going on.

No matter what, you should have your skin checked for skin cancer regularly, as early detection is particularly helpful with skin cancers, making them much easier to treat.

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9. It may be harder to maintain a lower BMI or lose weight. 

If you're interested in losing weight (which is your business and I'm not going to tell you what to do with your body — just remember that you don't have to lose weight to be wonderful and worthy of love and happiness), it'll be harder as you age. 


Again, it's about hormones and metabolism and stuff. 

Dr. Medha Munshi, quoted in The New York Times explains, "Even those who remain active lose muscle mass every decade beginning in their 30s, research suggests, replacing it with fat. Muscles use up more calories than fat, so less muscle means a slower metabolism and the need for fewer calories."

Hormones also play a role. 

Just remember, bigger bodies are not worse than smaller bodies, and if your body isn't as small as it was, you're still doing great.

Someone will try to lie to you and tell you that you're just not putting in enough effort to be thin, but I say just flip them the bird (in your mind or in real life) and remember that people's problems with your body are about them, not you.


10. You may grow to hate your breast implants.

Many of the cisgender women I know in real life who had breast implant surgery in their 20s absolutely hate their boobs now, and have either had their implants removed by choice or due to Breast Implant Illness or another medically significant side effect, like encapsulation or rupture. 

If you're going through this, I'm so sorry! It sucks. But you're not alone. 

11. You will get wrinkles.

The only way to avoid getting wrinkles is to die. 

You can try to treat them with creams and chemical peels and that's fine. You can even get major plastic surgery to make you look less wrinkled, but I personally don't think it makes you look younger, just less wrinkly. Again, that's your business.


Wear sunscreen for sure, but otherwise please know that your wrinkles are natural and you are still gorgeous. 

No matter what you do, I guess my best advice is to try to love your skin and thank it for protecting your blood and guts for all these years.

RELATED: 11 Times It's OK To Say 'Eff Your Beauty Standards' 


12. Your lips may will get thinner. 

Some people notice that their lips start looking less full as they age, and it's probably true. That's due to the loss of collagen and bone mass that support the look of full lips, as well as a breakdown of fat pads in our faces.

I have definitely noticed this in myself, especially when I lost some weight due to a medication when I was 39. Fortunately, I've gained more weight lately and my face is honestly looking better for it.

13. Your libido may be affected.

Dang hormones! Talk to your doctor; there may be ways to start feeling better, if this is an unwanted change. It can be particularly annoying if it's caused by or exacerbated by vaginal issues, but doctors can often help and offer good ideas for how to recover. 

There are also behavioral and relationship-based things that can help. Just know you're not alone! 


14. You may get new stray hairs around your body and on your face.

No, you're not gross. You're normal and they're caused by hormonal changes! Tweeze or laser or just leave them be. Your choice!

15. It may be harder to wear cute (but uncomfortable) shoes.

Even those of us who used to be on our feet for hours at a time in 4-inch heels may find that Birkenstocks and Vejas are a better choice. 

Maybe that's because our tolerance for bullsh*t has decreased along with our interest in conforming to beauty standards, but it also may be due to changes in our bodies! Maybe it has to do with weight gain, circulation, a decrease in muscle mass, or even our joints.

Either way, if wearing heels or any other fashion you used to love sucks for you now, that is normal! 


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This list is far from complete — these are simply the main changes I've noticed in my own body. 

It's important to note that everyone's bodies are going to age differently, including the celebrities we see all over the media and in our timelines. Sure, they may be "aging well" naturally, but it's more than likely that their wealth and fame allows them access to things like personal trainers, chefs, plastic surgery, and expensive skin treatments (including emSculpt and CoolSculpting!) that us regular gals cannot afford. 

One of the glories of aging, for me, has been my increased ability to let go of my anxieties over what others think of me and move past my youthful obsession with being beautiful or fashionable.


My hope is that I'm able to nurture my commitment to self-acceptance so that I can truly love and accept my aging body. Not just for me, but also as an example for my daughter. 

And maybe, by simply shouting this message from the rooftops, we can change the world and stop being so ashamed of growing older.

RELATED: How I Learned To Fall In Love With My Aging Body, One Wrinkle At A Time

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and media critic whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, Time, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Esquire, Vox, and more. She has a degree in gender studies from UCLA and is raising three very busy kids while working from home. Follow her on Twitter for more.