Dr. Robi Ludwig Says Today’s Women at Midlife Are Just Getting Started

The roster of media mavens, moguls and boldface names spotted today at Michael's.

DianeClehaneLunch_FeaturedThe joint was jumping at Michael’s today with a slew of PR mavens, moguls (Barry Diller) and talking heads (Greg Kelly). I was glad I got there early for my ‘Lunch’ with Dr. Robi Ludwig, who was fêted last night by Bella Magazine at Mamo in Soho in celebration of her new book, Your Best Age is Now (HarperOne). I first met Robi, one of television’s most popular and respected psychotherapists and a regular contributor for Investigation Discovery’s Scorned (“No one loves to talk about murder more than me!”), when she was one of Nancy Grace’s favorite guests on her HLN show and I was writing Nancy’s book, Objection! Let’s just say we’ve always had plenty to talk about. Robi always introduces me to interesting women and today was no exception. She invited publishing consultant Nancy Hancock, who acquired Robi’s book when she was an editor at HarperOne and former QVC host-turned-Nutrisystem pitchwoman Kathy Levine to join us. Between Robi’s new book, Kathy’s stories of working with the late, great Joan Rivers and Nancy’s take on the current climate in book publishing, we covered plenty of ground.

Dorinda Medley and Diane Clehane
Diane Clehane and Dr. Robi Ludwig
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Robi’s book is a myth-buster on middle age and is a rallying cry for women in their 40s, 50s and beyond to reinvent themselves, take (calculated) risks and not be held back by outdated thinking. Robi told me she was somewhat inspired by her own experiences. “I was interviewing for television jobs and when people asked me how old I was, I wondered if this was going to be a deal breaker. I’m not insecure about my age but I thought, is this it for me?” Clearly not. Robi jumped into researching the new realities for women at midlife and was greatly encouraged by what she found. Women’s lives at midlife today are vastly different from anything our parents experienced. To wit: Meredith Vieira, Ellen DeGeneres, Viola Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker and the ageless Christie Brinkley are in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Contrast those women with images with The Golden Girls’ Bea Arthur. Get the picture?

“There is science that shows what women experience in midlife is not unlike what happens in adolescence. Hormones change and it’s a time of passages where you ask yourself, ‘Who am I now?'” said Robi. “Women are living longer, so there’s a real need to reboot. Women need to rebel against this idea that youth is the only time of beauty and there’s an expiration date on our dreams. At this stage, women know themselves betters and in some cases look better than they did in earlier stages of their life.”

As Robi sees it, it’s all about staying relevant. Help in that department can come from a surprising source: the teenagers in a woman’s life. “They can be a tremendous source of information in terms of what’s modern and happening in areas like technology.” This does not, she explained, mean foolishly trying to act “young.” She advises women to “achieve agelessness” by truly believing one “gets better with age.” In the book, midlife mentors like Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Juju Chang, Kate White, Dari Alexander and Robi’s own mother, Helene Shalotsky, talk about the ways in which they have embraced this stage of their life and offer advice based on their own experiences.

Not so coincidentally, Nancy and Kathy had their own words of wisdom. Having left the security of a senior position at HarperOne, Nancy is now an independent consultant working with authors on all stage of their work, from polishing proposals to advise on where to spend (and where to scrimp) on publicity and promotion. “Every single book I’ve worked on with an author since I started doing this has gotten a book deal,” said Nancy. That’s because, she explained, she offering an essential service. “Every editor who edits and every writer who writes needs the other person to do that other job.” And here’s some good news: “It’s a very robust market for the right book.”