I was watching a television programme last night, when an advertisement came on, clearly aimed at the over 50’s. I was stunned because the people in the commercial looked, well not to put too fine a point on it, over 80! I thought to myself ‘Do I look like that?’ and I had to have a sneaky look in the mirror, just to check.
It’s my birthday in a couple of months and I will be 55. 55!!! I don’t feel nearly 55. I probably feel about 35 if I’m honest, and I’m incredibly grateful that so far, I have stayed healthy. I put this down in part, to looking after my weight and regularly exercising, but I also realise that there is a huge dose of good luck in there as well.
But the numbers don’t lie, I am nearly 55 whether I feel it or not, and that raises certain questions, rightly or wrongly. Should I be dressing for my age? Am I acting my age? What is acting 55 look like? Do I have different needs and requirements having hit that milestone?
I think it’s fair to say that the 50’s are no longer viewed as the ‘twilight years,’ as they were in the last century. As a generation, we seem to be living longer and looking younger than our parents and grandparents did at our age, which is positive, if sometimes confusing.
A couple of years ago, much to the hilarity of my family, I was asked for my ID in a supermarket when buying some wine! The particularly thorough young assistant was obviously focused on following the rule book. I didn’t have an ID on me, so was about to go home empty handed, until my son swept in and saved the day with his provisional driving licence! I’m not suggesting for a minute I look too young to drink, but guessing peoples ages is probably more tricky than its ever been.
I have certainly taken stock of my life since turning 50. I am lucky enough to be in a wonderful relationship and I love my job, but I have made a few changes. I have become a veggie and taken up yoga. I have been ruthless in cutting people out of my life who were a negative influence, and I find that I am able to speak my mind with confidence and assertion, perhaps more so than ever before.
My Somekindof50 Instagram account has taken off in the last year or so, and I have quite a few followers. This has led to some very lovely companies sending me their items and asking me to promote them. To my amazement, this has included lingerie companies such as Adina Ray, Playtex and Maidenform. I was terrified the first time I posted on Instagram in underwear (beautiful as it is). What would everyone think? And it’s true I did lose a few followers. But hey ! Why should I care about that just because I am in my 50s? Is it only girls in their 20’s with perfect bodies who should be allowed to model lingerie?
“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
My daughter continually compliments me by “borrowing” all my clothes. I prefer to look at this in a positive way, rather than be miffed that my nice new French Connection jumper seems to have moved into her wardrobe. But a little worry creeps in… what if I’m, *gasps,* ‘Mutton dressed as Lamb’? My daughter assures me not, and that she would tell me if I was making a fashionista fool of myself. I don’t think I am… but one of my favourite brands in All Saints, so I’m probably dressing younger than my age. But that’s OK, because the point is I dress as I feel, not what my age may mean to anyone else.
But are there things we should be stopping doing at 55? Having long hair? Wearing mini skirts? Showing any cleavage? Wearing a bikini? Or leather trousers? I’m actually growing my hair rather than cutting it. Lockdown has meant that I have got through that annoying stage between long and short hair, and I quite like my new look! The only reason to cut long hair as you get older, is if you fancy a restyle. I’ve never really been one for leather trousers, but I certainly continue to wear a bikini and since my calves aren’t too bad, I like to wear a short skirt or even show a little décolletage. And why shouldn’t I?
Age is something we constantly consider. In our teens, the idea of being 50 is absolutely unimaginable. At 20, I remember feeling sad that I had left my ‘youth’ behind. At 30, the responsibility of being a mum was overwhelming and I couldn’t imagine a time when I would have time for ‘me’ again. When I became 40, and following my divorce, I remember feeling quite sophisticated and perhaps in control of where I was for the first time in my life. And when I became 50, I was honestly excited. It felt like a real milestone.
But I appreciate not everyone feels like that. As a counsellor, I worked with a client once who was absolutely despairing about becoming 50. Her association with that number was so negative that she really didn’t want to continue living. She felt the good times were behind her, that all she had to look forward to were old age, pain and loneliness. Thankfully after a few months, she came to have a different view, but it made me think about how some of us perceive the ageing process.
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” – Sophia Loren
I don’t know what 60 will feel like, but my mum is happily marching about her life at 84 and my son reliably informs me that the person has already been born who will live to the age of 150. Think of that! That means at my tender age of 55, I could still have 100 years to go! I doubt that somehow, but I’m certainly hoping to make it to my 90’s.
Still, women over 50 have some ways to go in terms of age positivity. The numbers of ‘50 something’ women on television is not particularly inspiring. We hear about the women newsreaders and actors who are being dropped when they hit a certain age. Presumably because we all want to see fresh twenty-five year old’s deliver our news and appear in the films we go and see. Do we? I think not. Yet Jon Snow who looks about 80 is clearly continuing on Channel 4 news as a main anchor. I would love to routinely see women that age in the same job…..
Is it because there is an unspoken assumption that men age better than women? I don’t think that’s true, though there is rarely any suggestion of a few wrinkles making a man any less attractive, whereas women are encouraged to spend a small fortune on the latest treatments to try and smooth out those pesky lines. I wish wrinkles were seen as attractive and as a badge of honour for all those times we have laughed.
A quick look at google when you type in ‘Over 5O’ offers options for dating, insurance and money advice websites! I’m not sure what to make of that. Hopefully that’s not all that is left!! I know we are all deluged with positive statements on social media and are constantly reminded that life is short and we must enjoy our time on this planet. But it’s so true. I have to constantly remind myself that each day is unique, offers a wealth of opportunity and I must NOT sleep walk through it! It’s so easy to get so caught up in our busy lives and be constantly looking forward to the end of the day, the end of the week, the next holiday etc. that life quickly slips by, almost without our noticing.
So I AM going to make the most of my 55’s. I’m going to do what the hell I like and there is going to be no “should” about it! I’m going to try new things, travel, (when we can again) and have great times with my wonderful partner. I’m going to appear on Instagram a lot more times in whatever clothes make me feel good (including lingerie), and if you don’t like it, in the words of one of my favourite fellow over 50’s on Instagram @midlife_mystyle, “you can scroll on!”
…. Now, where are my slippers?