i want to be an old woman

michelle shocked wrote one of my favorite songs – well a favorite when i was in my early 20s called “when i grow up” – on it she croons “when i grow up I want to be an old woman” – and this always struck me as – hopeful.  (except for 120 babies line)

i just spent my saturday morning coffee trolling about a new blog and its various links that focuses on “elder fashion”.  it’s called advanced style by ari cohen. i loved it.  as i read about his inspiration and persused a couple of links i was quite surprised by how happy it made me to hear and see people embracing their age.

a few other things i read this week that have brought this idea together…harvard is starting a “third age” program to educate people who want to create a social change as their post career project, a woman in britain is giving birth to the first baby screened to be breast cancer free before birth, a friend saw tina turner perform recently for 3 hours – she is 70. 70! the other topic has been all the brooha onver malcolm gladwell’s outliers and the idea of “late bloomers” versus prodigy etc…one critic said he essentially removes the hope that you should always have – that if you read the book and you haven’t done it by 30 you may as well pack it in…i liked that people were defending wisdom; experience and late blooming against mr gladwell’s opinion.

i started to think that we may be heading into a moment when being “old” is cool and perhaps a even the word could lose some of its negativity…that would be nice. perhaps its because i’ve spent years chasing down the latest and greatest that the youth market will respond to; perhaps its because i often find myself in a roomful of 20 somethings listening to a new band; but there has just been a stigma to growing old – and i never felt it. I was always singing michelle shocked in my head and everyone else seemed to be trying to hold on to their 20s for dear life; even in their 50s.

i think that the song’s time may be here. and not in the bad way that those “Just For Men” hide your gray commercials do it. I’m embarrassed for that guy – with his girlfriend of 50 in a sequin mini skirt, and their keg cups on the beach – should they be drinking fine wine out there in malibu? shouldn’t she have on a nice white linen dress?  what happened to grace and dignity?  i started to think about this a while back when i read robert bly’s “sibling society” – where he basically reamed the boomers for not being “parental”. (i never had a curfew…ever)

the new york times article that led me to the blog mentioned that there was a rash of over 50 models in the spring fashion shows in Paris. this is fantastic. remember when it used to only be the woman in the banana republic ads? she was literally the only gray haired woman in the fashion mags – and she is beautiful. but it would seem that there are so many more – thank god! no wonder my grandparents seemed older than their years – they had no role models or advertising giving them the aspiration to be something else other than “old”.

sigrid rothe – banana republic fame (photo by nina subin)

there is absolutely nothing about  the”anti-aging” movement that i find “anti-old”; if anything there is something graceful and healthy about “anti-aging” – it is very different than “forever young”. it is why i want cate blanchetts skin secrets.

i just hope we haven’t ruined this great path we were on….it was starting to feel nice to have something to look forward to; someone to grow up to be – a peace corps worker, a volunteer in africa, a teacher, and environmental leader – anything other than sitting in the corner….while all the youngins have fun.

every census article will tell you that this is the demographic that is growing and will take over soon; yet here in the US we are still the “youngest” country; (although much of that is due to immigration and low rates of infant mortality).  i was looking forward to there being a “cool” elderly population and I hope that still continues; that the economy hasn’t wiped out too much of their ability to bring us into a dignified age (or that bernie madoff hasn’t)  it was almost going to be a return to the early part of the century; travel, chairity; leisure, arts – the ability to focus on the culture and not just the work.  our entire country would have benefitted from this highly educated and wealthy older demographic’s ability to be out in the world with energy love and respect.

it might not just be the money we lost; but some late in life heroes….some late bloomers.

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