Role Models

Have you noticed any older women lately who are positive role models? I must admit I had a hard time finding some. And I suppose a good role model for me may not be a good role model for somebody else. A good role model is someone I want to be like when I grow up.

I can think of a few women who have aged with grace and style; and so many others who refuse to look their age at all by having multiple plastic surgeries. To each her own I suppose. But to me, aging with grace involves no plastic surgery, no botox injections, nothing to fill in those ‘parentheses’ that bracket our mouths. I have wrinkles, yes, and crow’s feet, and sagging chin and neck and eyelids. And we won’t even begin to discuss the bags under my eyes. I don’t want Botox injections; I don’t want to have a perpetual look of surprise on my face or have my face look like it’s made of plastic and will crack if I smile.

I like the feistiness of some older women; Katherine Hepburn and Betty White come to mind. They didn’t fade into the woodwork once they reached that age of no longer being ‘useful’ according to society. They are helping to reframe how we think of older women. Men past a certain age are considered distinguished; the grey at their temples indicates wisdom and insight and means they are deserving of our respect. I don’t understand why the same isn’t true for women.

I see women like Carmen Dell’Orefice, who is still working as a model at 80; 86-year old Johanna Quaas, a gymnast; and Kathy Martin, a 60-year-old long distance runner; and many, many more. I see actresses like Dame Judy Dench and Helen Mirran who just get better and better. As they become more out there in the media, perhaps society will take note and realize that we can still do the things we did when we were younger. We are not fading into the woodwork; we are not going out with a whimper. We will not go away because somebody says we should. We are here to stay, getting stronger, and better.


Age is beautiful

No, I will not hide and fade into the woodwork. I will not meet your expectations of what I should look like, what I should do at this age. This 63-year-old body sags and wrinkles and I refuse to lift or constrain it in any way. My hair is thinning; but that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to color it and wear outrageous hair styles as long as I want. My eyebrows are greying and disappearing, and my eyelashes are all but gone; but that doesn’t mean that I will stop wearing makeup to enhance what is left. My breasts are sagging and not as perky as they once were; but I will not wear bras that ‘lift and separate’, or make them pointy, or make me want to scream by lunchtime because I can’t breathe. My legs are not shapely and they have spider veins; but I will not wear pants or long skirts just because you don’t want to see them. I love my nail art that shows off my beautiful hands with their age spots and prominent veins and wrinkles (who knew you could get wrinkles on your hands?) I have skin tags, and moles, and other things you think are gross growing on my body. Yes, they are gross, but they are part of me; part of my body, and I have learned to live with them. I don’t need to look like the latest top model to be beautiful.

I may seem old to you, but I was once your age, with all the hopes and dreams you have; getting old wasn’t something I thought about as I’m sure you don’t either. But one day, you will be my age, and hopefully, much older. I hope that you don’t have to listen to snide remarks made where you think I won’t hear you. I’m not deaf and can still hear your whispers from across the room. I am living my life the way I want to live it; the fact that I have lived this long gives me that right – I have earned it. I have earned every wrinkle in this face by laughing and loving and losing. And I’m sure that more wrinkles will appear. And yes, I have ‘turkey neck’ and ‘flabby arms’ and a ‘menopot’. But this is the body I have, and I love it. It still gets me where I want to go. I can see and hear and touch and taste and smell. I’m not in my dotage and I still have opinions, and I will voice them.

So you young women out there, and you older ones, too; when will you rise up with us to stop society from thinking we are invisible? When will you start respecting your elders and listen to our wisdom? We didn’t live this long without learning something. We see what is wrong with the world and try to fix it. You think we’re crazy and have no right to tell you what we think. So listen to us; maybe you’ll learn something. We’re not fading away; we’re getting stronger, and we are beautiful, and we will make our voices heard.

Concerning Friends

If you search for quotes about friend(ship), you will find lots of pithy cute quotes. While all of them may be true, having and being a true friend goes far beyond one sentence quotes. Some friendships endure time, distance, good times, and bad times, arguments, marriages, children, divorces; others never make it past the first disagreement. What makes a good friend? I can’t honestly answer that question, because I don’t know. Some women are still friends with girls they met in Kindergarten; some women seem to gather up friends like sunshine on a clear day and drop them just as fast.

My mother was one of the latter. She would spurn friends at the drop of a hat if they did or said something she didn’t agree with. And after that, she would never mention them again. She was also a very selfish woman who thought everything revolved around her. If it rained when she wanted to have a barbecue, the gods were against her; if the item she wanted in the store was out of stock, the store did it on purpose because they knew she wanted it. I think you get the drift.

When I was growing up, we moved a lot. So I went to a new school every couple of years. The constant moving made it hard to make and keep friends. When I was a teenager, I did make friends, and when I moved yet again, we promised to keep in touch. And we did for a while. But then my letters went unanswered and I felt rejected and alone once again. After I finished high school, we moved yet again, this time across a huge ocean; keeping in touch seemed impossible, and it was.

Nursing school, marriage, kids, all gave me new friends, but they, too, disappeared as fast as they appeared, and for many and varied reasons. Then one day, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me that nobody would stay friends with me. It took me a long time to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. Friends are friends for as long as they need to be. People come into our lives, and leave or not, depending on what it is we need at that point in our lives or on what it is they need from us at that point in their lives.

Recently, thanks to the wonders of technology and social media, I have re-found some of those old friends. We have had fun catching up on each other’s lives, but it’s difficult to pick up where we left off after some 40 or more years of going our own ways. And again, because of technology and social media, I have made a lot of new friends over the last 10-15 years. I may never actually meet them in person, and I don’t make friends with just anyone. Some of us met on one site, and migrated together to another; some of us have stayed on the same site. We have laughed and cried, shared each other’s misfortunes and down times, shored each other up when necessary, and supported each other through death, divorce, heartbreak, and new adventures. Our backgrounds are varied; and if we had met in person first, we may never have become friends.

So maybe that’s what true friends are: people who support you no matter what; people who will laugh with you, cry with you, commiserate with you; and give you a kick in the butt when you need it.