The Beauty of Age
I’m enjoying being old and grey. Yes people LOVING IT.
It goes against all contemporary narratives does it not? Given as we are, the image of WOMAN as sensual, glossy, alluring and sexually attractive at all times. Oh yes and slender, mostly Caucasian and err... young, there are still too few diverse portrayals of femininity
I see few sweaty and muscle-honed Boudicca’s in my sports pages, only a smattering of suited and inscrutable politicians on network news whilst there is barely a peep from grey and lined sister-elders dispensing woman-wisdom for us all.
Age...advertisers would prefer to ignore it and media editors wish it or the people doing it...would all go away.
But there are dissenting voices and they are coming from women young and old.
We make it clear when advertising oversteps the boundary to promote unachievable age ideals. In beauty marketing the use of ageing conjures up a 'bad thing,' with product prevention therapy to fix it. When there is no glorification of GREY, we cannot help equate the lack of it with invisibility even social exclusion. Coupled with the pernicious perception that getting older equals atrophy, we need counter-cultural challenge from gobby women like me who say... ACTUALLY... there is GAIN and lots of it.
Since accidentally gaining a public profile in the 80s, and from the moment two women hissed “Mutton,” when I hit the stage for a Clothes Show presentation as reasonably fresh-faced 28 year old, I’ve pontificated entrenched perceptions of growing older for many years. At 33, reading my medical card as you do, after birthing a first child, I was labelled an ‘elderly primate.’ It was good preparation for news, a year later, that I was too old to continue presenting on prime-time TV as BBC executives did not like the natural grey streak in my hair.
Of course I didn’t dye it just to assuage the insecurities of others and my grey streak has come to mark me out.
Now at 56 and three quarters, I have a full head of grey – with some natural dark streaks too... Call me ‘handsomely pewter.’ Call me happy. When I called myself old recently in the Sunday Times, there was mayhem. I reassured twitter followers that OLD was GOLD and GREY is GREAT.
Grey is not every woman’s cup of tea. But we are as diverse as we are delicious. And the presence of grey and older women like me who stand happily defiant is crucial.
I have been mulling this over, with 86-year old model Daphne Selfe, here and here having met at an Industry London gathering on July 22nd to discuss fashion and image, hosted by Lauretta Roberts. She and I both had a variety of offerings on image, confidence and age and I loved listening to her take on life.
I’ll certainly be aspiring to her wise and wrinkled serenity and that’s exactly my point for those of you who are following me.
We need to see the journey ahead. And just like Daphne, who inspires and delights at every opportunity, ‘I intend to shine a light on all the best bits about being properly middle-aged and FEISTY.
Young women...there is only adventure.
Blogged: My first outing in grey