In 2008, Merokean Judy Goss, a former high-fashion model for the likes of Armani and L’Oréal, published her first book, “Break into Modeling for Under $20,” with St. Martin’s Griffin.
More magazine, where she was a casting editor and the national TV spokeswoman at the time, published a full-page piece in honor of the book’s launch. The mother of twin daughters, who were 4 at the time, had recently turned 40.
“This is what 40 looks like,” read the headline. Goss, who was photographed in a flowered blouse, white pants and hoop earrings, radiated happiness, with a wide smile etched across her face. She was, as they say, on top of the world.
A year and a half later, More, a fashion, beauty and health magazine aimed at women over 35, needed to cut its staff amid the Great Recession, and Goss was laid off.
“I was pretty rattled,” she said. “You just have to move on.”
Move on she did, and now she’s back taking on the world. With eight months of severance pay from More, Goss, who turns 45 this year, founded a national networking organization, Over 40 Females, which is connecting over-40 women across the U.S., empowering them through motivational talks, events and articles to look deeply within themselves, find their callings and stand up for themselves in an often male-dominated business world infatuated with youth culture.
“Women over 40 feel underrepresented,” she said. “They feel a little like society sees them –– as disappearing.”
Finding yourself after 40
Even in this era of seeming equality, Goss said, scores of over-40 women have given up the career plans they laid out in their teens and 20s to raise children, leaving the work force, partly or completely, for 10 or 20 years. In that time, they may have been divorced, gotten ill or both, while their work skills languished. In their middle years, they may suddenly find themselves alone after their children have grown up and moved on. They need a nurturing place to rebuild their lives.
Or maybe nothing has gone wrong, but they need to find themselves beyond motherhood. They must reinvent themselves, discover the potential that lies within and make business connections.