Carmen Dell'Orefice (74 in 2005)
This has been rolling around in my head for a while, years actually. (Please forgive a little rant) When I started this journal, I was experiencing that feeling of invisibility that many women get with approaching middle age. Writing here helped me feel like I still had a voice – and with that voice – a face!
Now more and more women (of a certain age) are standing up (metaphorically) and demanding to be counted; the Internet has given us a platform, and the word-on-the-street is “I AM VISABLE”! Finally there are individuals out there saying, “this is us, this is what we look like – we mothers, sisters, wives, lovers, daughters – we are not invisible anymore”. These "ordinary" women are just confirming how "extraordinary" we all can be. I want to link to two brave, ground-breaking women who have addressed this issue, each with her own brand of flair and style. Click on these links to see -
and "Visible Monday" -Because these blogs put such a positive spin on what has been largely a taboo subject (aging), I wish I had seen them several years ago when I suddenly realized - one particularly awful morning (with shock, amazement, horror and trauma) - that I was “old”. I was 51 then and working in an office in London where the average age was probably 26 and this sudden awakening totally floored me. Being homesick, missing my children and SAD (seasonal affective disorder) might have made it worse but there it was – just plain ugly! Had there been any visible examples of sassy, smart, attractive, capable, vital women around, I think this realization would have been a lot less traumatic. But all the really visible, role models were young, anorexic, androgynous girls, (and apparently, in at least one instance, a boy).
Popular media has much to answer for but I also think that we – our generation – should be ashamed of ourselves. I mean, we bought into the cr*p (pardon my French), youth obsession, big time and just took the punches – “Old? Oh, I guess so, after all I’ll be forty next year. Pass the hair colour and a pot of that wonder wrinkle remover and if that doesn’t work, there’s always Botox!” Should we not be angry, even militant? Time to stand up and say “I am a woman” and part of what’s wrong with the world today is that the collective wisdom, intuition, understanding and plain old common sense we women have gained through life experiences is treated like so much rubbish. My history? Erase it from my face, erase it from my body, then erase it from my mind!
My point is this; the general perception of aging is one of stereotypes and rigidly defined clichés, bar the occasional reference to some fabulous celebrity. I am blown away to see my contemporaries – baby-boomers too – being so entirely “present” and looking so good in the process! Which leaves me asking the question “why has growing older generally been given such a bad rap? OK, I make some assumptions here, in that I’m talking about women who can embrace life as a gift (not a curse) and explore every moment for the joy within. These are obviously people who have not let themselves be defined by anyone else’s parameters but make their own rules as they go.
Image of Carmen Dell'Orefice courtesy of Wikipedia