Thursday, January 19, 2017

Edit Your Life: Perspectives on Aging

To say that we live in a culture that loves youth is probably the biggest "DUH" moment you will read on this blog today. I remember being 18 years old and thinking that I would have to do anything worth doing then because my life would be over by the time I turned 30. (Fast forward to now and I am living waaaaay more than I was back then and next month I will be 32. I in no ways feel that my life is over, no, but it's definitely starting to get very good!) There is something culture wide that has  that same sentiment. You cannot read a magazine without being bombarded with some type of anti aging, wrinkle reducing, look 10 years younger blah blah blah.

One of today's Readables reflects that same sentiment. Rebecca Huval's piece featured on the blog this morning focuses on our culture wide disrespect and dislike of aging and how that translates to how we have lost the ability to dress like adults. Huval attributes this inability to the "youthquake" movements of the 1960's that saw the rise of beauty ideals that we cling to even to this day such as "Stick-thin model Twiggy popularized the babydoll dress along with its infantilizing silhouette and name. Boxy styles eliminated curves from a woman’s body. Suddenly, magazines set an impossible standard for youthfulness and boyish bodies that most women, but especially older women, couldn’t achieve."
Historian Linda Przybyszewski says that in our pursuit of eternal youth, "We lost the idea that you could grow up and be dignified." It is that sentiment that makes 20 year old models despise their counterparts who may be 5 or more years younger, keeps 40+ year old men sneaking off to get Botox while living in hoodies and Nikes to stay current with their 20 something counterparts, and makes grown women shop in the juniors section for low sling denim that their teenage daughters would wear. 

Huval says "And to think that girls used to look forward to the fashion privileges that came with age." There was a time when girls looked forward to growing up, donning elegant three piece suits in sophisticated colors and cuts that aged them. Now, if someone dared to say something aged you, you would remove it from your person and immediately burn it.

But personally, I don't believe that it has to be one way or the other. I don't think you have to drown yourself in anti aging serums or swath yourself in dowdy pieces that make you look like you belong in a by gone era.

I think that that we can embrace be both. 

Is it possible for women (and men) to love the season they are in and embrace it fully? I think so. I think it is more than possible to be a young woman, with the energy and excitement of her youth who does not flip out should a single strand of platinum hair appear or a new wrinkle emerge. I think you can look forward to aging as a younger person.

I also think you can be an older woman and still be just as sexy as you want to be, without any surgeries, augmentations, or the like. I think you can still slip into your favorite dress, slide on your favorite lip color, let your grey hair show, and enjoy a night on the town. 

Think there is a value to age that those who enjoyed the 60's youthquake (and consequently following generations) forgot about: age means that you have LIVED. I mean, I personally NEVER thought the phrase "live fast, die young" sounded good. Contrast that with the grace, poise, elegance, and wisdom, and yes, BEAUTY possessed by those who have aged gracefully. This person has survived years, full decades, on the planet. That fact alone should earn a person respect and value. There is a power they possess, and certainly a lot we can learn from them.

What would happen if we took back, if we RECLAIMED the beauty of aging? Huval says "A matronly, dignified dress with an empowering design might be exactly what’s missing from stores. With an expanded cultural understanding of what old age can be, including self-possessed and badass, we might begin to find racks of matronly dresses that shoppers have been sorely missing."

I say that we embrace the seasons we are in, whether more seasoned or less, and fully love ourselves there.