Now that I’m “old”, I can do whatever I want…..

Now that I’m “old”, I can do whatever I want…..

aging, transformation, embracing age, midlife sexuality, your aging process

 

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 yourself, 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.

Your turn.

18 Comments
  • Beth Ann
    Posted at 09:59h, 14 November Reply

    I am comfortable with my age of 56 but I guess I do try to dress a little bit more conservatively than some of my peers. Maybe I should embrace some change when it comes to that? You look lovely in all of those photos, Walker! True beauty shines from within and you have that !

    • Walker
      Posted at 10:15h, 14 November Reply

      Why not get a little more playful or less conservative with your look? I bought this fabulous pair of orchid-colored shoes last winter in NYC. Just the perfect spot of unexpected color with a pair of black slacks. My suggestion would be to go slow–buy a fun inexpensive scarf or top…some funky earrings. I’m getting more adventurous and it makes me feel good.

      My sincere advice is to do what makes you happy!

      Thanks for the compliment. I have to admit that I kinda fell in love with smiling photo. I just sat down in front of my Mac and played with Photo Booth. Try it… you can delete immediately or save the ones you like. As an exercise it was a great experiment for me.

  • Linda
    Posted at 11:45h, 14 November Reply

    Great post. I have conflicting feelings about this: I look younger than my 59 years which is fun. I like dressing inappropriately, in skinny jeans with boots this time of year. But I know my limitations and don’t even try to look like my daughter. Why should i, we are two different people! Aging in America is tough because we have to remain in the workforce longer than our parents did, in a ageist environment. But we are tough and funny and will make it work. You look great, many computer-camera images make people look awful!

    • Walker
      Posted at 17:02h, 14 November Reply

      Linda, thank you.
      I agree with what you’re experiencing. I’m fortunate, I guess, to be self-employed so I can avoid the ageism found in more structured work environments.
      We are tough and funny and multi-faceted and wise.
      And, thanks…I was pleasantly surprised! Photobooth gives you a small countdown so you can see how you’re looking as the camera snaps!

  • Haralee
    Posted at 12:38h, 14 November Reply

    Walker you look fabulous for any age. I do not like the qualifiers.
    A friend and neighbor who is 85 and I have known her for 35 years is a gorgeous woman. At 50 she was a knock out and at 85 she still is. She is confident in her own skin, gracious, smart, engaging and funny and that all shines through when you meet her. She is my role model to aging beautifully.

    • Walker
      Posted at 17:03h, 14 November Reply

      Love that you’ve got a role model–we all need one. And I’ve determined I want to be a role model for my granddaughters!
      I don’t really like qualifiers either, but it was necessary for this article. I tell people how old I am, rapidly if they’re doing the “oh no one wants to talk about age.” I think it takes some of the perceived sting away and owning it feels just fine!

  • Roxanne Jones
    Posted at 17:34h, 14 November Reply

    Great photos, great post! Like you, I’m definitely speaking up more as I’ve gotten older–not only in my one-on-one interactions, but my blog also has been a great vehicle for doing so. I’m caring less what others think, and I’m easing into going out without makeup (there was a day when I wouldn’t go to the grocery store without it). And I’m not spending time with people I don’t want to spend time with. Life’s just too damn short!

    • Walker
      Posted at 17:57h, 14 November Reply

      Amen to all of that!

  • Ellen Dolgen
    Posted at 21:34h, 14 November Reply

    AMEN! I love this blog. You look fantastic without makeup!!!!! I don’t subscribe to any rules about how I should look or feel. When I wake up – each day…. I dress the way I feel. Some days I don’t wear make-up and some days I do. Some days I feel like wearing sweats, or jeans, and some days I feel like dressing more sassy.I love high heels….it’s genetic…….we had to literally take my Mom’s heels away from her at 90+ years old as she was falling too much. I imagine my daughter will have to pry mine off as well!

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:09h, 15 November Reply

      Never been a heels type, but a friend swears the same thing–I’m amazed that she can actually walk! I think that’s the real point, wear what we want when we want, not because there is some unwritten rule about what’s acceptable.

  • Editor (Retired)
    Posted at 21:10h, 18 November Reply

    Positive thoughts! And love the smile! ?

    • Walker
      Posted at 11:39h, 21 November Reply

      Thanks! And thanks… Happy Turkey Day…

  • Ren Powell
    Posted at 10:18h, 03 December Reply

    Enjoyed this. I am working on it. Having a lot of trouble with photos of myself these days. I also don’t eat ice cream (or any foods with refined sugar actually) because I feel better when I feel confident in my own skin. It is a fine line there. Very personal. I have thought about doing a selfie series to get over my hatred of selfies (no doubt it springs from envy and insecurity and nothing else). Thank you for this.

    • Walker
      Posted at 10:45h, 03 December Reply

      It is an effort, admittedly. Let’s talk, my business coach is going to be running a workshop on selfies and images/branding at the first of the year.
      I’m not a big fan of selfies but found that seeing myself clearly and feeling OK, in that exact moment, with how I looked was pretty powerful. I just sat down in front of my computer camera and started snapping–with no goal until I saw that they looked good–the posting of them was the big step.

      Substitute ice cream for any one of those things you’ve denied yourself–ice cream to me is a child-like delight.

  • Joyce Lee
    Posted at 19:45h, 30 January Reply

    Thank you for such an encouraging article. Aging has been a big adjustment for me, especially in this youth-oriented society. But articles such as this and other uplifting quotes I’ve found on the net have helped me appreciate the alternative. Like this one: Nothing is perfect. Look beyond the imperfections in yourself and others.

    • Walker
      Posted at 08:55h, 31 January Reply

      Joyce,
      Thank you. I think how we age is mostly in the attitude we adopt. Awareness is the first step, right? There’s lots of fun and joy to be had in each stage of life; easier to appreciate when we stop looking outward at society for clues and follow our own instincts.

  • Sylvia
    Posted at 01:28h, 31 January Reply

    Well, I feel really old reading this, you are struggling with 60. I turned 70 in December. . . . Wow now I am old. The 60’s for me were really awful. Lost my beloved husband at sixty five. Then realized I didn’t know myself. Had been spending all my time doing, being what he wanted. so I was alone at 65, for the first time , really ever. Got married the first time at 17 then fell in love with a married man at 30. At 40 I finally met a man who loved me for who I was. . . And all I could do was be what I though he wanted me to be. . . Then he died, for a while I was on dating sites, looking at all those old men who wanted young women. . . And young men that wanted a sugar mother. Now five years into widowhood, I have thrown out everything I didn’t love. .. . I have thrown away all the mismatched everything, from bras and panties to the dishes in the cupboard. . . All the trophys he won, and the tennis rackets. I got out the silver and the good dishes, bought a queen bed, and wonderful bedding, I read when ever I want in the middle of the day or night. I brew a cup of tea in my $500.tea pot that belonged to his mother who never used if for fear of breaking it, and sit and listen the music I love, or HGTV. I can actually find the remote. I am deeply lonley I think? ? But I seem to be ok. I paint, be it walls or on a canvas. . I plan vacations I never seem to take. . . I have so many married femal friends that come to my house to hide out from their husbands. . . Some come in and head for the bar for a drink. . . Because he is on the wagon. . . And they envy me.? Others smile wisely at me when they take the third man into their lives/beds in a year, saying he is a keeper, and in a couple of months are sitting at my table drinking my wine, and crying. . . I am not so sure finding a man is such a great thing. . . I hate looking at myself in a mirror, let alone in a picture. Although I believe I am looking better than the 50 year olds in my neighborhood. So age after 50 is a number only. I still have blond hair, all my teeth, only take half a pill that the doctor wanted me to take, can hike a long way, dig in my gardens and smile at the sun on my face. . . I guess I am lonley? Profoundly lonley. Would love to go to bed and fake it one more time. . . LOL. Isn’t that silly. Luckily I have a big dog that loves to cuddle with me so I get that much needed close feeling. Isn’t life a strange but interesting state of being. I know when I go to the doctor and they say, You have cancer, I will sigh a sigh of relief and never consider fighting it. . . I will live this life till I die, , and then with any kind of luck my darling will be on the other side.

    • Walker
      Posted at 08:53h, 31 January Reply

      Sylvia,
      It sounds as if you’re doing lots of soul searching these days. I do hope you find the right path for you.

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