Aging, Schmaging.

oldage

 

So, here I am wandering aimlessly through the interwebs, as my friend Angela calls it, when I see this posting about hair styles. Normally I wouldn’t bite, but I’ve been having a bad hair month. My hair is way beyond its cut and the weather’s making it wild and flyaway.

“Best Hair Styles for Women Over 50!” My computer screen practically screams at me. What the hell. I click the link. And, really? It’s a non-story, showcasing photos of celebrities with perfectly coiffed hair and the occasional nebulous suggestion somewhat geared toward older women. Actually, there’s very little of use. I look at the photos anyway, because, who knows? I may find a photo I can drag to Jon Six and say, “what do you think?” At which point he’ll study it, look off into the distance considering, and then find the best words to say, “are you nuts?” I love Jon.

A few clicks in and there’s a photo of Jamie Lee Curtis with her short, silver locks. Now, I like her. First, she seems very real and authentic and unafraid of acting her age. Plus, it’s a striking cut for that simply works. So I read what’s there:

 “…if a woman has short, chunky layers around her face it will emphasize her eyes rather than her slack jawline.

Um, her what?

 “…Because older women have to deal with the effects of aging, including dryer and thinner hair [the designers] also advise that short shags and layered crop tops work very well for hair that has seen better days.

Seriously?

 “…If you choose to wear your hair long, however, consider wearing it in an up-do…. Once again, you are directing the eye upward and this will detract from the flaws that are occurring due to age.

Oh. My. God.

When did aging become a flaw?

It’s not as if it’s something we can correct, change, or fix. We can only hide it, although I have a secret: we don’t actually hide anything and, instead, we just look like we’re trying to hide the aging process. I have to shake my head over that one. Folks, we ALL age. It’s natural. It’s normal. And the negligence of that journalistic passage (I use that term loosely) is that it reinforces the stereotype that once you’re old, you’re no longer any good. And we all know what society does with “things” that don’t work so well or that have flaws, right? They fill up the landfills.

So I went to the dictionary. Slack-jawed, according to Merriam Webster, means “having the lower jaw dropped especially as indicating amazement or stupidity” <slack-jawed yokels>.

The Free Dictionary treats “seen better days” as “if something or someone has seen better days, they are not in such good condition as they once were, perhaps because of heavy use.”

Personally, I refute the story that emerges from that passage. Older women are no less capable, no less smart than they once were. They’re not slack-jawed. They are more likely to be wiser and more capable. Older women haven’t seen better days – they’re entering some of their most creative and productive years. Older women aren’t flawed – their beauty and their spirit shine just as strongly as they ever did. Authenticity, wisdom, and spirit are what make older women beautiful, because true beauty isn’t on the surface; it’s on the inside.

So let’s rewrite those passages.

 “…if a woman has short, chunky layers around her face it will emphasize her eyes rather than her slack jawline.

“…Because older women have to deal with the effects of aging, including dryer and thinner hair [the designers] also advise that short shags and layered crop tops work very well for changing hair that has seen better days.

“…If you choose to wear your hair long, however, consider wearing it in an up-do…. Once again, you are directing the eye upward and this will soften the aging process detract from the flaws that are occurring due to age.

Although it’s still not very authentic and still plays into the hands of a society freaked out by growing old, it’s less negative. See, I’m a huge fan of authentic. Your self-worth comes from within you, not from a haircut or a hair color. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Let me tell you about a woman I know. She’s 63 and she has gray hair. It’s long, too, so to hell with short cuts and up-dos. She retired from a successful career as an attorney. An observer might think her best days of making a difference are behind her.

susieThat observer would be way wrong. She leads 28-day rafting trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and two-week trips into the Yukon. She dehydrates the food (for the whole group), makes the plans, rows a raft, pitches tents, cooks, schedules, and organizes the whole shebang. She landscapes like a fiend, doing most of the hard, heavy labor herself. She cuts and installs tiles, builds bookcases, and put up a fence (a big one) to save her newly landscaped garden (her own work) from foraging herds of deer. She hikes in deserts and up mountains. She climbs cliffs. She snowshoes. She runs whitewater.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Does that sound like someone who’s seen better days, someone whose flaws from aging are appearing? Or even someone who’s slack-jawed? I don’t think so. It sounds more like someone who’s creative, resourceful, and whole – not to mention wise and vibrant.

But don’t tell her I said so or family dinners will never be the same.

 

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3 thoughts on “Aging, Schmaging.

  1. Kelly Kuhn says:

    Fabulous! I agree completely – our obsession with not looking our age is absurd! I love how you’ve written this. I’ve been meaning to write a post on the benefits of aging, and you’ve inspired me to hop to it, and I’ll be sure to pingback to yours.

  2. Jennifer Crow says:

    Kelly, I simply love your enthusiasm and your inquisitive mind. I look forward to reading your thoughts on aging, too. Here’s to looking like whatever we look like and feeling like we’re ageless!

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