From time to time I hear a woman say that she’s come to an age where she needs to tone it (ie. herself) down. You’ve heard it too, yes? You’ve heard intelligent, beautiful, spirited women say these things and then go out and cut their hair off, give away clothes they love because they believe they’re too bold or bright for their age, or stop wearing makeup they like because they feel they are no longer allowed to enjoy these things.
It. breaks. my. heart. Doesn’t it yours?
And to be clear, I’m not talking about someone noticing that their hair or body has changed and then making stylistic adjustments to most flatter their changing body. That’s a graceful act of self-love and acceptance in my book.
What I’m talking about is the toning down, stripping away, and general step-by-step de-sexualization women do simply because they believe it’s the right thing to do once they’re “of a certain age.”
When I hear and see these things I feel deeply sad about how women as a whole have been socialized. It makes me realize we’re not as far from the 50s as we think we are if seeking to be appropriate and proper – as opposed to expressed, abundant, alive, free, fun, radiant, or thriving – is still a goal.
Separate from our personal stories and feelings about aging, who we hold in high regard is who we knowingly or unknowingly steer ourselves into becoming. The women in your life who have touched you deeply will very much influence who you become… for the better if you’ve made those choices consciously, and perhaps not for the better if it’s by default of what you were given.
So to this I ask you: Who are your aging role models?
And more importantly: Who would you like your aging role models to be?
In my early years my aging role models, like most people’s probably, were my three grandmothers (two biological, one a step grandmother). They each had great, creative, beautiful qualities but they were all three very troubled in different ways and seemed to be potently at odds with themselves. But I took the qualities I liked from each of them, lumped those qualities into one, and used that as my initial evolve-in-this-way compass.
As I’ve gotten older I keep adapting my older women role model collage as I see and met women who inspire me in the way they’re choosing to go about aging. As you can see from the women I’ve shown here, expression, wisdom, creativity, vivaciousness, and grace are qualities I admire in people and seek to become more of as I age.
What do you seek to become? Who do you want to be when you’re 80? Do the women you model yourself after embody the qualities you want to evolve into? If so, awesome. If not, I highly suggest you consider who you WANT to become and find people who represent those qualities to you. There’s never an age we can get to when having role models stops being useful.
Enjoy this topic? I wrote more about it here in How Do You Feel About Aging?
And now for some videos…
I love this video. So touching, real, and inspiring. My Friend Maya
In 1.5 minutes Maya Angelou shares her perspective on aging and slices through much of the non-sense that’s typically said about it. What a breath of fresh air!