Is it possible to be so composed all the time? No, actually. And that’s okay. Living with imperfections and coming to terms with them is the subject of former fashion editor and publicist Beth Thomas Cohen’s new book, Drop the Act, It’s Exhausting!: Free Yourself from Your So-Called ‘Put-Together’ Life, available starting Nov. 4. Cohen’s straight-forward, no-nonsense attitude covers every one of the 147 pages of this self-help tome, which tackles subjects like marriage, kids, friendships, and yes, even having it all.
"I wanted something to help me not feel embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t have my entire life planned out,” Cohen told InStyle of why she penned the book. “Sometimes we wear so many masks we don’t even truly know who we are anymore. I made the mistake of doing that for so many years, and it was totally exhausting.” Hence, that’s where she came up with the title. "'Drop the act' means you embrace the imperfections in our lives and air your true thoughts about relationships, love, sex, parenting, careers, self-esteem, self-image, and anything else. By no longer being ashamed or apologetic about how we really feel, women will become more aware of who we are, and more accepting of ourselves and one another.”
One chapter of the book is titled “Forty Is the New Twenty,” which tackles how women deal with age. “This topic infuriates me on so many levels because why does 40 have to be the new anything?” wonders Cohen. “Why can’t it just be that 40 just is 40?” Perhaps she’s right. So what can you do to change your forever young mindset? She came up with a few ideas. Scroll down to read four age-related acts that you can drop from Cohen’s book, adapted exclusively for InStyle.
The Act: Trying to look 20 when you’re 40.
Why to Drop It: Because if you are 40 then it’s not possible you look 20! Especially after children. When your body changes after children, it’s an eye-opening experience. I can’t tell you how many times I looked in the mirror (and still do) and thought to myself, who is this person and where did her body go? We all have to drop the idea of bouncing back like Heidi Klum. With age comes sagging boobs and larger butts and an expanding waistline. There is only so much you can do to turn back the hands of time; denial is not one of them.
Tip: It’s better to be honest with yourself.
The Act: I am platinum blonde genetically.
Why to Drop It: Because it’s not real. I remember when I had the kind of hair that you could do nothing trendy with. So what did I do? Cried, poked and prodded—whatever I could to make my hair everything that it was not, which was versatile. At 12, it made sense; at 18, I no longer needed the hair to be my armor. I cut it all off. It felt so liberating, so light, so real! The second I realized I could change my hair to suit its nature, I made it my own.
Tip: Tweaking your hair to what you want will help you feel more confident.
The Act: I rolled out of bed and look this good.
Why To Drop It: Because at this point in my life, it takes me a long time to get my face on. No one wakes up in the morning on their 40th birthday, looks in the mirror and can honestly say they look the same as they did when they were 20. This I know firsthand. I do the best I can, to feel the best I can.
Tip: Accept the fact you look different.
The Act: Skinny jeans for everyone!
Why to Drop It: Even though they may be the latest jean style, find what works for you. Personal style should evolve with age. Once you can identify what works best for you and your body type, you should stick with it regardless of trend. One of the most important things I learned while working in the fashion industry for so long—and not being the ‘norm’ in terms of body type—was how to dress for my body. Oftentimes people conform to what they think everyone else is wearing and then end up looking ridiculous simply for the sake of fitting in.
Tip: The greatest thing about getting older is settling into your individual style.
Adapted from “Drop the Act, it’s Exhausting!: Free Yourself From Your So-Called ‘Put-Together’ Life,” by Beth Thomas Cohen, published by Taylor Trade.