I TRULY THINK IT HAS…
I should start by saying I was never really negative about my age. I mean, age was and is just a number I go by and so far, all the big milestone birthdays ( I say all… I mean thirty and forty), have been heartily embraced… and celebrated within an inch of what is considered socially acceptable.
Fifty will be no different.
I rarely act my age (whatever that means), still feel like I have a ton of growing up and growing into myself to do and constantly have to remind myself that I’m a mother to a teen daughter. WTAF!
So did that all add up to make me age neutral? Maybe.
But prior to spending a gazillion hours in the online world of blogging and social media, I guess I absorbed the anti-aging mindset by osmosis. Years spent consuming messages from mainstream media will have that effect. Buy this cream to prevent wrinkles, colour your hair to cover those greys, ask yourself if you can really still wear X at age Y… and on and on it went.
Now that I find my age positive klaxon regularly triggered by things I stumble across online, I’m also seeing slow trickles of progress in a few publications too. Finding yourself awakened to something you didn’t know you needed to be (until you were), has a curious way of making you hungry for more.
Although you might be forgiven for thinking that that progress was very S L O W indeed if you stood in the supermarket queue and happened to glance over at 90% of the newspaper headlines of a weekend morning. If I had a pound for every time I’ve told H to “Ignore that shizzle!” I’d be as wealthy as some of the people that own said newspapers.
But in a time when we regularly accuse social media of promoting only perfectionism and imprinting the “youth equals beauty” mantra deep into our core beings, I’d like to stop for a minute and examine the ways in which it has made me embrace my age so much more.
The very nature of the platforms that I choose to inhabit enables me to reach inquiring feelers out in any direction I choose. I regularly sniff out good hashtag rabbit holes down which I can drop and roll, only to emerge hours later feeling invigorated and inspired.
Instagram and blogs are the places to come to if you want to be exposed to all kinds of opinions on how we can be more age positive. And I know that some might inadvertently perpetrate the exact opposite too but that’s what the unfollow button is for.
Here is where I have access to messages that negate Age The Number and instead, embrace Age The Attitude.
It seems I’ve been slowly absorbing them all via on online drip feed, letting them bust myths, break rules and kick down barriers. And it rocks.
And it goes in a reverse direction as well as forwards.
I find myself continually inspired by women of all ages, some many years younger and some older. Would I have come across them if I wasn’t doing what I do? Most likely not.
They start and run amazing businesses, both big and small and they use their influence for all kinds of good.
How old they are doesn’t ever come into it. If they inspire me, I’ll stalk them for their creativity, brilliance and innovation, not for the number on their birth certificate.
I always thought that my own blog audience was predominantly forty plus because some ten years ago, I happened to set out my virtual stall in the “older style blogger” marketplace.
Google Analytics (when I can be bothered to look at it) tells me a different story. Month on month my blog age demographics show the core audience is in the twenty five to forty four bracket with pretty much the rest falling into forty five plus.
To be honest, I’ve never been one for “dressing for your age” anyway – I prefer instead to focus on what I love, feel good in and what might bring an edge in the form of an unexpected detail. So I’m more than happy if that comes across in the content I produce, style related or otherwise.
That and the fact that I no longer want to be defined as a forty-something style blogger.
I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s just an aversion to labels and that mid-life rebellion thing again. Or the simple fact of not wanting to attach a number to style.
Can we also explore the more recent phenomenon of embracing grey hair. Now this I bloody love!
Over the last ten years of people watching, I’ve observed women with stunning grey hair that seems to add a certain something extra to their overall look. Countless times I’ve nudged Mr OS and said “Ooh… I want to be her when I grow up!”
Why? Because to me, the woman who embraces that grey as part of who she is and allows it to compliment her overall look is nothing short of a style genius in my book.
The fact that she’s sticking two fingers up to what we’ve been conditioned to do over a gazillion years also appeals to my inner mid-life rebel.
I also envy her lack of days spent waking up, post hairdresser visit with an irritated, itchy scalp. During my recent root colour phase, there were times you’d find me scratching like a woman possessed. Not such a good look.
Unless head lice suddenly become the accessory du jour.
My friend Lou wrote wisely on the subject of embracing grey here… she writes wisely on everything come to think of it. And we’ve since conversed back and forth numerous times, providing each other with hair updates (sometimes visual), agreeing that it’s a personal choice and definitely not for everyone.
If you want to carry on colouring out the greys then I salute you. We should never feel encumbered by the decisions and choices of others… even if (and especially if), they have their own Instagram hashtag.
At the same time I’m growing into the grey, I’m also considering a tattoo to mark my big birthday.
A juxtaposition of opposites when it comes to things we’re “supposed” to do at certain ages? Go figure. I’m not over-analysing it.
If I try to put a common underlying theme to all this new found gumption I’m feeling, I think it comes down to not really not giving a sh*t about what people might think. Something I spent far too many years doing.
Does that only come with age or can it blossom early on by having the foresight to focus on developing a strong sense of self?
Here’s Lou again on the millennials that possess that increased self-awareness, thereby answering that one perfectly. I told you she was wise!
So perhaps it can be both. But for me, a stronger sense of self definitely comes with age.
My slow burgeoning self-belief is all self taught. I alone have nurtured my latter years nature and I much prefer how I feel now to how I did in my late twenties/early thirties.
So has being an online creative helped me embrace my age?
Yes. Of that I’m one hundred percent sure.
A FEW WOMEN WHO INSPIRE AN “EMBRACE YOUR AGE” ATTITUDE…
Alyson Walsh – That’s Not My Age
Meryl Streep (no links needed – just watch her movies)
My friend Lou Bradford. I’m also blaming her for the tattoo idea!
Bobbi Brown (and on the subject of tattoos – read this)
S H O P T H E P O S T
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Photography: Charlotte Bryer-Ash