How do you feel about your aging process? These photos are from a spontaneous series of selfies, taken on my computer, for a visual storytelling workshop assignment. No makeup. No dressing up for the camera. I felt amazingly at ease and, as you can see, I even managed a big smile. I dislike being in front of the camera.
I think I look pretty damned good
for a 62 year old woman. And, I’m not ashamed of my age or appearing in my natural state. Though obviously my crooked teeth were bothering me! Some women fret about their wrinkles, their gray hair, and age spots, and all the various things our society labels “old”.
Screw that. Who says we have to live, or look, act, or dress a certain way?
We’d all be much happier if we asked ourselves more often, “What do I want right now? What do I need?” And then went about doing what felt right for us in the moment–with little regard for public opinion.
I bet we’d eat more ice cream, spend less money on makeup, smile more, and enjoy the simpler things in life. With abandon. And with a great sense of being happily in charge of our own lives.
Yet we don’t.
And it affects our relationships and jobs and our sex lives. It adds an extra layer of stress in our lives.
I’m looking at what it’s like to age and how some of my peers struggle with each new birthday. When I see my pictures I see a woman who looks comfortable in her own skin and at ease with herself. She’s not hiding behind a veneer of makeup, acting age-appropriately, or screaming to be seen. Nor does she seem to need to hide her age. She’s just living life in a way, that in this quick moment, looks easier than it really is. If we’re being honest.
I’ll admit that I want to look good. And most days I use a bit of under eye concealer and a little blush. Lipstick, once in a blue moon. I love clothes and shoes and I have a style that feels comfortable–which, having been the same for a few decades, seems to be considered “acceptable” for a woman of my age. I’m working on changing the acceptable bit.
I think “acceptable” and “age-appropriate” are stupid terms for a grown woman.
So, why the focus on me? Aging seems to be harder for women. We live in a society that worships youth. In our youth, marketing-driven culture, women lose their appeal as they get older. Old and Aging have negative connotations. Personally I much prefer getting older to the alternative. Yet I see so many women fretting about their age and I see companies creating and profiting from our fear of getting “Old”.
When we buy into that crap we weigh ourselves down with anxiety and low self-esteem. Women who get caught in that trap spend their time and money trying to trick themselves in being young again. To what end? Where’s the satisfaction in feeling panicky about your age, or the number of age spots on your hand, or the sagging neck?
In the visual storytelling workshop we talked about disrupting traditional narratives. I like the idea of disrupting expectations about aging. I want to counter traditional notions and do things differently. To embrace what I have and do what suits my wants and needs, not what our culture dictates. It means letting go of the lie that we have to look young to be vibrant and vital. It means being less concerned about what others think.
I invite you to share, here or just with ourself, how you’re disrupting your aging process. What are you doing, as your 50’s and 60’s approach, to show up in a way that feels uniquely you?
Me? Proclaiming my sexuality, getting bolder, speaking up. Adding more color.
Also published on Medium.