Reflections

August 13, 2021

The Old Lady Who Wouldn’t Sit Down

new generation of old ladies Cher quote
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My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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“A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense
and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself, and only herself”

Maya Angelou

What is it about the cycles of women’s lives that generate the craziest commentaries from people?

I recently celebrated what got coined as my “Beatle Birthday” (I turned 64, get it?).

Thanks to the generous genetic stew passed down through the women in my family, I’ve always “looked
young for my age”. (Thanks Mom and Gramma Sylvie!) It has been, at first blush, quite affirming to hear
many times over that people would never have guessed that I was turning 64. Woohoo, go me.

But this also got me thinking, why is that such a thing anyway? What is an “age-appropriate” look for
being 64? An I-don’t-care-anymore, short haircut (conservatively straightened and contained, of course),
Crocs with socks and a wardrobe stuck in the 80s (and not the ironic hipster thrift version)??

Is it not OK to just look great, happy, grounded…without the qualifier of “for your age”?

Why is it so shocking to people when “women of a certain age” don’t seem to fit whatever the
stereotype has evolved into? (Yes, I do have a lot of questions). When did we get pigeon-holed into
some societal expectation for how we “should” be, to be considered “normal” for the age our biological
clock signifies? Does looking great come with an expiration date after which we are just supposed to
give up on that??

I have seen the same thing applied to women when they milestone into motherhood. The raised
eyebrows over a mom with a sleeve of tattoos, or heels instead of “comfort shoes”. Pregnant musicians
still on tour, pregnant athletes still givin’er as long as they can. I say, rock on however you choose,
mamas, and more power to ya. The important thing is that you’re taking care of yourself and your
babies, and setting a good example for living a genuine life, not what you do, not what wear on your
feet or adorn your body with.

Why are women expected to suddenly tone it down as we take on new roles and enter new phases?

The thing that bothers me most about all of this is that it smacks of control over women. That
the underlying assumption that if we are allowed to dress, act and look however we feel, instead of how
society thinks we should, that this will somehow subvert the natural order of things?

WTAF.

(I won’t even get into how religion also inserts itself into all this, as that is another whole topic of hot
mess for another day. But I mention it only as an illustration that this phenomenon is all around women
everywhere.)

At the root of my discomfort is the message that once I reach a certain age I should just quietly start
blending into the background of life. Not stand out too much. I have, apparently had my fifteen minutes
and need to step off for the younger ones? Because, what? There isn’t enough room in the world for all
of us females to keep living our best and most fashionable and noteworthy lives right to the end?

I say, NOPE. NOPE, and aw-HELL-nah, NOPE.

Fashion and style have always been passions of mine. I’ve always looked to heroes like Iris Apfel, Helen
Mirren
, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Reba, Cher and of course my personal spirit mama of all, Lily
Tomlin
… for how to age on with style and spirit. Each and every one of these women is unique,
individual, and insert their own signature to every project or red carpet they are part of. And, they are
not afraid to run things their way and KICK SOME SERIOUS ASS in whatever arena they enter. THESE
women? They are doing what they like, they are doing it on their own terms, in their own unique and
personal style; and if you don’t like it, well, that is your problem, not theirs. Not to mention, they lift up
other women while they do it. Now that is something to aspire to.

I will not go quietly into this good night either. I will continue to wear what I like, say what I think and do
what feels right to me, no matter my age. To be honest, I think that is what keeps us vibrant and
relevant. It keeps us enthusiastic for life. Yes, of course, I know how to live this way respectfully, and not
be that asshole in the room living out loud in the look-at-me, over-the-top way of an insecure fool. That
is not what I am talking about. (Read: Speaking my Truth and the Big FOF)

I don’t care if a woman has a few lines on her face or a few things have shifted location… style is style.
You don’t need to be a perfect size two or rockin’ a gym bod, to embrace fashion. Style comes from a life
lived by your own rules, expressing your creativity in your own unique way, and pursuing what matters
to you, not from following some guide from some 20-something fashion intern on what “women over
XX” should have in their wardrobe.

I recently read this little ditty in a Google article about “how should I dress stylish in my 60s?”:

“Have a core wardrobe of neutral basics that you can liven up with overshirts, jackets, and accessories.
Skirts should be on the knee or lower, never higher. Go for sleeves or sleeveless items you can cover
up…”

Sweet baby Jesus. Why not just scream “OH GOD MY EYES, KEEP YOURSELF COVERED, WILL YA”?

Uh, don’t be telling me how long to wear my skirts; If I think my legs are worthy, and the outfit works, I’ll
wear whatever skirt length I like, thank you. Or jean shorts with boots. I’m a grown-up. And “neutral
basics”? Seriously, never been part of my closet. Colour is my talisman, and just because I had a
benchmark birthday, that isn’t going to change. I apologize if that creates a little discomfort for you that
I am wearing purple printed overalls and a beaded bra top. Or (gasp!) a bikini outside of my own
backyard.

I think that life is a journey of joy, to be expressed as we feel it. At all ages and stages, and in all the
glory that ALL women are, all of our lives. When I see a woman bold enough to be wearing a beautiful
cropped top with an 8-month baby bump and some cool pants…I think “damn, girl, you rock that
pregnancy!”; NOT “for the love of all that’s decent, cover yourself.” When I see a woman of my age
rocking some super cool deconstructed jumpsuit with a full-on long silver mane, I am inspired to elevate
my own game, not threatened or wanting to tone her down.

We ain’t dead yet, we women in the supposed wisdom years of our lives. We will love you hard because
we have learned how through all the tough years. We will run our ships with compassion, and fearless
vision because we learned that from those ceiling-breaking women who came before us. We won’t be
stepping down just because of our age. We will re-invent what it means to age because we have
learned to care for our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. And we will not tolerate being shoved in the back corner, or told to simmer down, because we know who we are, what we want, and how to get it. Because we will just run you over if you try to “OK Boomer” us into submission.

So, get ready to collectively eye-roll, you would-be dictators of what we women should be doing as the
stages of our lives roll on. Because here comes the new generation of old ladies, and we’re comin’ in
hot.

Deb P.

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  1. Nancy says:

    Hell yeah! I love this so much. Keep rocking the boat!

    • Deb P. says:

      Thank you Nancy! If even one woman who reads this finds her mojo to keep living her passions…it was a worthwhile post!

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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