Embracing Our Age

What is so wrong with looking our age?  Why is society constantly pushing us to look younger?  Why is looking younger better than looking our true age?  These are questions that I have been pondering lately.  And frankly, it frustrates me.  I am in my early 60’s and am happier and more content than ever.  I would not choose to go back to being 20 or even 35 again.  At this stage in life, I have a more balanced perspective, I am more fulfilled and enjoy the wonders and “awe” moments that each day presents.  I have a new appreciation for my health and caring for my soul.    

Research studies about the correlation between happiness and age vary, but I am finding that the majority of studies report that people experience their highest levels of overall happiness after the age of 59.   At this point in life, people are more stable financially, less concerned with physical appearance and have a higher level of overall wellbeing.  According to a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch report on the Nielsen data, “there is scientific evidence that people get happier as they get older.”  The theory behind this is that an acceptance of ageing promotes contentedness.  Therein lies the secret to aging well.   Accepting our age.  Accepting our limitations.  Accepting that skin is susceptible to gravity. 

“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is the triumph over old age.”

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

If being in our 60’s and 70’s is such a happy, fulfilled time in our lives, why are we trying to look younger?   How can we be content and happy when we are constantly fighting our true age?   Why are we trying to look like an age when we were less content with life and ourselves?   I would blame the 26-billion-dollar plastic surgery industry, but they are just responding to a demand.   There is a steady increase in procedures and surgeries that you can have to lift, inject and fill loose skin.  Loose skin happens if you are fortunate enough to live that long.  So, what is so wrong with loose skin?  And why are we always trying to hide it?  Why should women over a certain age never wear sleeveless shirts?  

When I see older women with faces stretched into a permanent smile, exaggerated big lips and strategically arched eyebrows tattooed on their forehead, all I can think is… denial.  I honestly don’t have anything against people choosing to do any of these procedures.  I think that everyone should do what they are comfortable with and makes them feel their best, and I know that plastic surgery is a game changer for many people. What saddens me is why people, and particularly women, feel that they need to have their skin cut into or injected with fillers in order to look younger and more presentable to the world. (Unfortunately, men and women are not viewed as aging equally in our society.)

Perhaps the fight to look younger is based on fear.  Fear of no longer being desirable or wanted.  And ultimately, fear of becoming incapacitated and eventually dying.   Women over 50 complain that they become invisible with age.  There is even a name for this phenomenon, “invisible woman syndrome.”  The waitress looks right past you.  Your comment is not responded to.  The shop assistant ignores you. (I find this rather funny since the people with the deepest pockets are the older generation.) And what about the back-handed compliment, “you look great for your age.”   Most of us appreciate this compliment, and yet I wonder…what is wrong with just looking healthy and vibrant for the age we are? How do we show society that age is not something to be dreaded, and our aging bodies are not something to hide and be ashamed of? Some women fight back by being outrageously flamboyant and colorful. I prefer a more subtle, but potentially less effective, approach.

How do we respond to a society that is youth obsessed?

  • First and foremost, is our own self-image.  If we are confident and comfortable at this stage in life, it will keep the younger generations hopeful about aging.     
  • Change your attitude and self-talk.  Getting older is not something to fear.  Enjoy the greater sense of well being that comes with age and wear it.
  • Look your best for your age and then FORGET ABOUT IT and start enjoying life fully.
  • Being yourself, no matter what your age, is powerful.  And people will respond to that power and confidence.  And if they don’t, what do we care?  We are too busy having fun to worry about it.
  • Keep your spark.  This is what old looks like and it looks pretty darn good and fun to be. I am intrigued by older people that have that wonderful spark in their eyes.
  • Kill them with graciousness.  Don’t be that grumpy old person.  Be kind, gracious and appreciative.  Show people that aging gracefully is a wonderful gift and not a life sentence for being miserable and unhappy.
  • Stay current on what is happening in the world.  No one wants to hear about our creaky bones, but they can engage in a lively conversation about AI.  (Nothing says old quite like not understanding technology.)
  • Go ahead and wear the sleeveless shirt, without apology.
  • Other ideas?

I was with a group of women a few years ago and someone asked, “what is the most important beauty product that you would never leave the house without?”  Lipstick and mascara were the most common answers.  When it came my turn, I surprised myself by saying, “confidence.”  Being confident and comfortable in your own skin radiates a beauty that nothing else can replace. 

The real fountain of youth

Last week was gorgeous weather and so, on the spur of the moment, we decided to do a quick micro-trip over to Glacier National Park.   It is just a four-hour drive for us.  While I have been to Glacier Park, I had never been on the “Going-to-the-Sun Road” that is located in the park.  It is an iconic, historic road that is carved into the edge of the Northern Rocky Mountains and has stunning views.  The weather was beautiful, the convertible was gassed up and life is short, so why not make a spur of the moment trip there? 

It was up there, hiking in the mountains, breathing the fresh air with the sun on my face, I realized that this is my fountain of youth.  Hiking and being out in nature’s beauty, doing something I enjoy gives me a glow and vitality that no injections or fillers can ever accomplish.  Not only that, but it improves the quality and longevity of my life. I would much rather spend my time and money on experiences and enjoying life than in a plastic surgeon’s chair.  (Lest you think I am a total beauty sloth, I do get my nails done professionally.)  

I think most of us would like to look 20 years old again with all the energy and vitality that comes with youth.  But time marches on and that is O.K.  Our gains with age are greater than our losses, provided we are fortunate enough to still be healthy.  I think the majority of us just want to look our best for our age.  I want to live healthy, vibrant and strong and fully embrace this phase of life.  And I think we need to show the younger generations that aging has it’s advantages. If there was one beauty secret I would tell the younger generation, it would be to look your personal best and then… forget about it and go out and enjoy your life. Nothing is more attractive than a woman who is happy, confident, content, and comfortable in her own skin. Aging is a gift that we are given.  As the sayings goes, “it sure beats the alternative.”  So, let’s accept and embrace our age, while continuing to be our best selves regardless of the date on our driver’s license. Be engaged, confident, and enjoying life.  And maybe, just maybe, we can play a small part in changing society’s attitude towards age.

Wear your age well.

Coastal Grandma Kicks Ageism Out the Door

The Coastal Grandma look and vibe has stormed the internet. If you have not heard of it yet, go look it up.  Right now.  The term Coastal Grandma was coined by Lex Nicoleta, who ironically is not a grandma.  Well, I am a grandma and I love the coast, so I must be a Coastal Grandma right?  Well apparently not.   It is not just a look, but an attitude.  An inspirational lifestyle.  Think Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give or Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated.  

The Look:

The Coastal Grandma, let’s just call her CG for short, has a simple, elevated, organic, earthy vibe.  It goes along with shades of ecru and white, blues, grays and beach grass green.   This easy lifestyle calls for natural fibers:  linen pants, a chambray shirt, a straw hat, a market basket, cotton slipcovers, sisal rugs, jute, fresh flowers and herbs on the windowsill.  It is a natural, textured, comfortable aesthetic.  

The Lifestyle:   

The Coastal Grandma definitely lives a more relaxed, elevated lifestyle.  It is a crisp glass of white wine and a good book.  It is cutting hydrangias from the yard to arrange in a bouquet or cutting lavender to gather into bundles and dry.  It is taking a wicker basket to meander through the farmer’s market to get fresh green beans and raspberries for dinner. 

The Attitude:

While the Coastal Grandma lifestyle and look is appealing, I think what really resonates with women is the attitude that the CG portrays.  It is the idea of living authentically, without apology, that draws us as much as the look itself. The CG is comfortable in her own skin.   She knows who she is and what she likes and is confident enough to express it.  She is comfortable graciously saying “no.” It often takes years of living to get to this point.  The CG makes time to live life on her terms.  She no longer walks into a room and compares herself to other women there, worried about how she levels up.  Instead, she walks into a room confident that she is her best version of herself.  She is more concerned about connecting with the people and enjoying the experience.

The Trand Setters:

Of course, women of any age can exemplify the Coastal Grandma look and lifestyle, but don’t you love that this term originated from women of retirement age who are living this lifestyle that is setting a trend?  It kicks ageism right out the door!  This celebrates a lifestyle that we have earned and are living fully at this time in our lives.  I believe that the CG exudes a confidence that only years of living can shape.   The pointy, rough edges of her personality have mellowed over time to reveal a beautiful patina.  I recently read CG described as an emotional place the hurried 2022 woman has arrived at after years of making everyone else’s lives more important.   After years of working, raising a family and hurrying, we are ready to slow down and live more intentionally. It is, finally, living fully ourselves and loving it.

  

How refreshing that retired women were the originators of this lifestyle.  And why shouldn’t we be?  We have learned over time what we like and how to embrace a lifestyle that nourishes us.  We have finally come to accept ourselves. We are not perfect and we are OK with that. Really OK. Maybe, just maybe, having dewy skin, silky hair and cottage cheese free thighs isn’t what it is all about.  Let’s be examples to younger women of retired women who are comfortable in our own skin and are living a life that fills our souls.