“You know what? I’m not young and I’m okay with that. I feel so much more comfortable. It’s like I’ve taken off a mask.”~ Andie MacDowell
What does it mean to “act your age”?
Is there a rule book somewhere that decrees how one is supposed to act at every new stage in their life?
Chapter 10, you’ve now hit your 40s. Chapter 11, oh dear, it’s the 50s. Chapter 12, f*ck it’s the 60s.
Or perhaps there’s a store we should visit to purchase all “age appropriate” items? Isle three, sensible shoes. Isle four, fishing tackle. Isle five, practical underwear. Isle six, bird watching equipment. Isle seven, knitting needles.
Are there regulations about what we are allowed to do in the bedroom? I mean, am I still permitted to enjoy sex, or is that deemed inappropriate at my age? What about play, fun, and laughter? Am I past that now and should leave that for the younger ones, or would it still be considered “normal behaviour” to embrace these enjoyable activities?
Or when someone says, “You look good for your age.” Is that a compliment? We look good, but only when compared to other old people? Or, “You are fit for your age.” Are we not just fit, or can we not just look good?
Obviously, younger people will have younger skin and may be fitter, and I would never want to compare myself or be compared to someone half my age. I’ve been there and lived that. I just wonder why we need to add the “for your age.” We know how old we are, trust us.
Yes, there is an element of sarcasm here, but there’s also an element of truth, as there are people who believe there is “age appropriate” behaviour and one should “dress and act their age.” We are still conditioned to believe this ageist rhetoric, and sadly, those beliefs are so limiting and box us into fearing age because it’s seen in such a negative light. Some people literally talk themselves into “feeling old” and inadvertently hold themselves back on all the incredible things life still has to offer.
Recently, famous designer Carolina Herrera sparked a heated debate when she proclaimed what she considered classless (for example, how jeans and long hair are meant only for young people). It has ignited somewhat of a furore about “age appropriate'” clothes and personal style.
I’m going to bitterly disappoint those people that have their list of “age appropriate” rules, right here and right now. Strap yourselves in because at almost 55, I have no intention of changing how I dress or my sometimes “youthful” behaviour to please others’ ideals of how someone my age should behave and dress. Which in all honesty, I have no idea how that should even be?
And it’s not that I don’t respect other opinions, because I do, it’s more that the opinions of others will not dictate how I live my life.
I’ve watched other women get told “to dress for their age,” that “short hair is better for an older woman.” I’ve been told some of these things myself. In the COVID-19 lockdown, a mate and I did a few weeks of dancing TikTok videos. It was a lot of fun and brought a lot of enjoyment to others. But of course there was the odd person who commented, “Aren’t you too old for that?”
Wow, I didn’t realise there was some sort of age limit on fun. I didn’t know there were these rules.
I’m kicking down those stereotypical doors. Every single one of them. I’m way more than my age and someone’s idea of what that portrays.
We are all getting older. Every day. But it’s how we choose to live that matters. It’s how our energy radiates from us.
And this is how I choose to walk into my mid-50s—fiercely, fun-loving, and fabulously f*cking flawed:
>> Bikinis. I love them. I wear them. And I’m proud of my body. It’s carried my two babies and birthed them. It’s strong, healthy, and fit. If you don’t like it, don’t look.
>> Long hair. Oh yes, long hair. Flowing down my back. In a ponytail. In a platt. In a beanie. In a hat. If you like shorter hair, by all means cut your own.
>> Dancing. Singing. Listening to live music. I’ll be on that dance floor kicking off. I know the moves and I know the words and what I don’t, I just make up. Join the fun or judge from the sideline, your choice.
>> Jeans. Nothing beats a good pair of jeans. I own high rise, low rise, tight, loose. I have pairs with rips all through them and my knees and part of my legs are exposed. I know, risky right? I mean, I could trip putting them on and do myself a terrible injury at my age.
>> Chucks. Good old converse are my shoes of choice. I have high tops. Low tops. White ones. Black ones. Blue ones. Maybe these would be considered my “old people’s sensible shoes”?
>> Singlet tops. Another item of clothing deemed inappropriate for the “mature” woman. I can only assume because of those old “tuck shop arms.” I prefer to see these as wings, and wings should always be free to fly.
>> Exercise. Should I be doing low impact exercise now that I’m becoming frail? I train most days. Strength and weight training. Core training. Walks and hikes. I only include this because I was recently told perhaps yoga was more suitable. Honestly, have you all tried some of those yoga poses? They are not for the fainthearted!
>> Overalls. Someone “suggested” to me that overalls may be for a younger person. Really? I had no idea my trusty overalls were also on the chopping block. Lucky, it was only a “suggestion.” I love my overalls.
>> Climbing Everest. I was asked recently if I wanted to do this, and I considered it for about five seconds before declining. My decision is not age-related because to be fair, anyone can die on that mountain. But if it was something that I was passionate about, I would definitely do it, regardless of age.
>> Skirts and dresses. Now it seems these need to be of a certain length as one ages. Anything above the knee is frowned upon. Is there something wrong with exposing our knees? I quite like my knees and they are as much a part of my body as my ankles; therefore, I will wear whatever length I choose. If my knees offend you, please avert your gaze.
>> Taking care of my emotional, physical, and spiritual health. I find it odd that some people think as you age that this can stop. Like we no longer need to take care of ourselves as we did when we were younger since we have a partner, or we’re older so it doesn’t matter. It matters more now than it ever did. Taking care of myself feels good and in turn my energy radiates differently. The outer shell may age, but the inner shell, well that is a state of mind.
In my personal opinion, ageing is such a gift because some people are not fortunate enough to make it here. Why after the years we have lived should we be restrained or constrained in what we wear or how we choose to live? Why should what makes us feel comfortable or what brings us joy be judged?
We all have our own individual personal styles and our own unique personalities, why should we stop being authentic to who we are because some people don’t like it? The important thing to remember is we like it. We like how we look and how we feel, and quite frankly, I don’t care how another chooses to dress or present themselves.
I saw an article just the other day, where the lovely Helen Mirren, who is 77 years old was adorned in a glorious pink dress, with her long grey hair worn natural. The majority of comments were bloody awful and full of judgement.
“An 80 year old woman should not be wearing pink.”
“What happened to her hair, she should have short hair.”
“Who styled her?”
And the list goes on.
Honestly, her dress is not my style, but she rocked it, and as long as she’s happy, who cares?
All these miserable people so unhappy in their own lives that they’re tearing this beautiful woman down for being herself. Does it really make people feel better to not only judge another but actually post a scathing comment about another’s appearance? I say at 77, Helen can wear whatever she bloody wants.
If we wasted time worrying about what others think, we would do nothing but worry. To me the external, the shell, how we look, and how we dress is far less important than the type of person we are. How compassionate we are. How kind we are. How we make another feel. Our loyalty. The essence and energy we embody. The old “don’t judge a book by its cover” is true.
It’s funny. I was less confident in my 20s—with younger skin, a younger body, and a youthful glow—than I am now. I just glow differently these days. It’s a glow of wisdom. Of rediscovering and reconnecting with who I am. Of knowing what I want. Of being unafraid to be me.
It’s a glow of understanding loss, pain, and profound grief at a depth I never imagined possible. It’s of a once forgotten love and now enduring love story—that of self-love. Of shining my inner light rather than simply relying on my outer light. Of being unapologetically myself.
So I won’t be following any of these rules to appease another’s belief of ageing.
I’ll be marching, no, sprinting, maybe even cartwheeling, into my mid-50s—fiercely, fortunate, forgiving, fascinating, fun-loving, and fabulously f*cking flawed.