The older I get, the more I hear other women my age judge things in relation to their age. “Am I too old for this?” they ponder. “Oh, no, I’m too old to do that”, they say.
“Am I too old to wear this outfit?”
“Am I too old to wear my hair this long?”
“I’d love to take that class/go on that trip/learn that new thing, but I’m too old.”
It’s an interesting paradox because I’m also hearing women my age talk about how things have changed now that they have the freedom that comes with age.
“I used to suck it up when I experienced sexism, but now that I’m older, I speak up.”
“I used to never leave home without makeup, but now that I’m older I don’t care.”
So which is it? Does being over 50 give us freedom to do what we want? Or does it bring new self-imposed restrictions? I think the answer is a little bit of both.
For many of us, we’ve stopped caring so much about societal expectations and being liked. Women over 50 are much more likely to be activists, to overtly embrace feminism, to find their voice and speak up when things aren’t right.
Yet some of us still struggle with not seeming like some pathetic middle-aged woman who can’t act her age. We don’t want to wear the tight miniskirt or low-cut blouse that we embraced in our youth. It seems a little desperate, like we can’t accept our age. We don’t want to be that sitcom stereotype.
If you google “dress your age” you’ll find hundreds of articles encouraging you to embrace your older, more conservative wardrobe. I call bullshit on this. You know what, if you want to wear a miniskirt or a halter top or heels, you do it. If you like it and feel comfortable, you do it anyway. and don’t give a thought to what people think.
I’m convinced that this “dress your age” stuff is really about continuing to control women’s bodies. You might be a fat or saggy or wrinkly and in a culture that embraces thinness and youth, wearing something that doesn’t hide that is an act of rebellion. And if people don’t like your dimpled thighs, they can just not look.
Use your newfound lack of giving a damn about people’s opinions to help you. If you don’t care if people see you at the Trader Joe’s without make-up, don’t care if they see you there in a tweety bird baby tee and cute wedges. If you are sick of sexism, be sick of people telling you how to dress. If you don’t care if people see your grey hair, don’t care if they realize you dye it orange. If you’re sick of being Ms. Nice Woman when people are rude to you, stop being Ms. I Care What People Think in all areas of your life.
I’m here to tell you, it’s not too late to do what you want to do. You’ve raised your kids. You’re probably established in your career. You know what you like and what you don’t. Be happy, be comfortable, embrace your freedom.
You have one life. This is YOUR time now, live life to the fullest. Dedicate this second part of your life to doing whatever you always wanted to do. Do the things, wear the things, enjoy the things that will give you pleasure. Take that class. Travel. Go to that trendy club and dance like no one’s watching. Wear your hair long, wear pigtails, paint purple stripes in your hair. Date that younger man or woman.
Live with no regrets my friend. Be that totally cool crazy old woman who people secretly envy. That’s what I plan to do.
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