Are you feeling old? And what does that mean, anyway? How does one define old?
I ask because the other day I received an email from a close friend who sent me a link to purchase a sweatshirt. What bothers me about this sweatshirt is the imprint on it: Never underestimate an old woman who graduated from (fill in the name of your college or university). I suspect that this apparel company uses this saying on all the alumni sweatshirts they offer to graduates of various educational institutions. What bothers me is the reference to women as “old.”
According to Wikipedia: Old age comprises “the later part of life; the period of life after youth and middle age . . . , usually with reference to deterioration. And according to Key Concepts in Social Gerontology there are four dimensions to old age: chronological, biological, psychological, and social.
And two professors of old age psychiatry (Wattis and Curran) claim there’s a fifth dimension: developmental. There’s also: young old age, middle old age, old and very old. And one does not have to be a certain age before being viewed as “old.” We may refer to a person of any age as thinking, dressing or acting old such as “old before their time.” And what time is that?
None of us who live long enough will escape the shock or surprise, disappointment and sometimes fear that comes along with aging. Recently, another friend shared with me that she noticed that her arches had fallen. And I’ve noticed my own body changes, including sagging around my knees. One day you suddenly become aware of a physical change that you hadn’t noticed before.
But let’s not forget the joys that come with aging. There’s a certain kind of freedom, contentment and wisdom that comes as we accumulate years. And there’s a certain kind of pride I feel when I see an “older” woman receiving accolades, admired not only for her beauty but for her accomplishments, too.
Still using the word “old” to describe a woman (even when it’s meant to be funny or cheeky) bothers me. Maybe it has to do with the deterioration part of the definition. Sure, maybe some things are going “downhill” but in so many ways I’m just getting started. And maybe you are, too.
My father was like that – he never thought of himself as old nor did I. With each passing year, he seemed to find new interests, new goals and new things to amuse, excite and delight him. Even up to his last days before death, he was invigorated, curious and engaged with the world and all its mysteries.
And among the issues I have with the concept of “old” is one: that we’re focusing too much on a descriptor that really isn’t “one size fits all” and two: it trickles down the aging spectrum to our youth.
Youth today seem to be overly concerned with their outward appearance. There are media people and companies that promote the super thin, wrinkleless woman as the ideal. And while we have the choice to listen to them or not and buy into their way of thinking or not, it’s always up to us women to demonstrate, project, exhibit and promote other aspects of our being.
What about our intelligence, curiosity, courage, confidence, and vitality? And what about our divine feminine energy, our light that shines within? I’m referring to our feminine nature that includes such qualities as restoration, creation, life, healing, nurturing, love, compassion and intuition among others. These qualities don’t grow old.
We are all so much more than our age.
A third friend wrote to me and to a group of our friends saying she was on grandmother duty this summer and as she put it, “I’m getting old.” I wrote back and said: “You’re not old. You’re aging and so are 20 somethings.”
There are challenges to face as we age. My aging mother who has a host of physical difficulties tells me it’s not fun to get old. To which I reply: every age has its problems.
From my point of view, I don’t want to be called an “old” woman. It doesn’t describe me. Life is all about cycles and perceptions. And it may serve us well to remember that “everything old is new again” anyway.
I simply want to be called a woman and let my Divine Feminine Energy speak for itself. I’m A Genuine Woman. Yep, that’s who we females all are — young or old or anywhere in-between.
How do you feel about using the word “old” to describe a woman? Please comment below. Everyone in this community has an opinion, and we’d all love to hear your take on today’s blog post.
Great you addressed this. Yes, the media (and that means ad supported media that is 90% of what we read online and on TV) are selling products to keep us looking young. Not a terrible goal as an extension of a healthy lifestyle, but much of what you encounter in ads is about superficial appearance. We are a youth obsessed culture for ecomonic reasons since ageism in the U.S. is far greater than many other countries including China where seniors are respected. It’s tougher for women in the U.S. since the average “ideal man” is probably 40 while for women it’s probably 25.
Thanks for your additional ideas, Ann!
Excellent article. And don’t you dare go behind my back and buy that sweatshirt. I know you secretly want it (not!).
Thank you, Joan. Trust me, I will not buy the sweatshirt!