“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature but beautiful old people are works of art.” Eleanor Roosevelt
There are many cliches about aging and “Age is just a number” is one of the most popular. I understand the positive intent but disagree on a few levels. There are real issues associated with getting older like declining physical and mental ability, lowered immune system and wrinkles. But for some of us, the positives outweigh the negatives and I for one do not daydream about reliving my youth.
I’ve never in my life felt so free - free to be my imperfect self. I don’t have to worry so much. Rather than daily concerns about children, I can enjoy the fact of how far they’ve come as independent adults.
The need to get up every morning according to a work schedule is gone for the first time in over five decades and I can honour my body’s own circadian rhythms now. We are so fortunate to finally have the time and the freedom to risk some resources in order to do some travelling. There’s also time for reading and learning the things that interest rather than the need to follow a course outline.
Another significant advantage is that I can pretty much say and do what I like without the self- consciousness of youth. We women often become braver and bolder as we age. There are hormonal reasons for this but also perhaps societal as well. Generally, we may be sort of ignored more than when we were young and there’s a kind of freedom in that. Or we may be thought of as a little eccentric and that’s kind of fun and liberating too.
I’m incredibly fortunate to enjoy relatively good health but as an older person, I believe it’s important to acknowledge that my time on this beautiful Earth is limited and somewhat unpredictable. For me, this is not a morbid thought but actually a feeling that we are all a part of Nature where everything has a beginning and an end. We seem to be the only creatures on Earth to be aware of our own mortality and it gives us the opportunity to plan to make the most of our lives as we age.
One way I try to do that is by smiling - a lot. I always have but more so now. I wonder if it’s some kind of innate behaviour therapy - look happy and you will be. I work out regularly, not to lose weight but to feel good. That’s one of the things that hasn’t changed throughout my life. Oh I’m not doing the 20-minute workout anymore but one of my lifelong heroes, Jane Fonda, has produced several great workout videos for older people.
Another thing I still do everyday is put on my makeup and wear clothes that are more than just functional. I don’t think about my age when I shop for clothes (which seems to be a favourite hobby) but rather look for articles that are interesting and suit my personality. The idea of "dress your age" it's long past its expiry date. I was thrilled when I discovered Lidka’s original and unique collections in FABartonstuff. They are colourful, stylish and ageless! I’m no beauty but I do my best to look my best because it makes me feel good.
But the interesting thing I’ve noticed, is that strangers and others with whom I interact seem much more friendly and open when I look the best that I can be. That in turn leads to more meaningful connections and that really makes me feel great! Why should older celebrities be the only ones to enjoy that feeling? To some, taking care of one’s appearance at our age seems a waste of time at best and shallow at worst but we have more time now and if it feels good, is appreciated by those around us and harms no one - go for it!
Mieke Dean is a retired Social Worker with interests in horses, dance, writing and fashion. She is also FABartonstuff Events & Fashion Associate.