Sunday, 30 October 2011

Youth & Ageing

The gals over at Feminist Fashion Bloggers are discussing Youth & Ageing this month.

There is discussion of *gasp* hitting the big four-oh! and even talk about how frustrating it is to be carded. Oh to be young again. Seriously? I have to jump in because so far no one has touched on the topics of menopause or ageism. Of course not, when being carded and contemplating the big four-oh! are the life experiences that have so far been lived it is understandable.  Besides, menopause and ageism are not sexy topics.

Dr. Robert Neil Butler coined the term ageism in 1968 to describe the dismissive treatment that seniors were receiving. Now I'm not a senior by any stretch of the imagination but Mama R is and I have to tell you it is quite scary sometimes to see the lack of patience out there.

Ageism has also helped to fuel a billion dollar cosmetic industry.

Youthfulness has become an cultural obsession, as baby boomers waltz towards retirement. The younger set are rushing to get their botox fix. In modern western culture youthfulness is prized. No new thought here.

It is like we're a culture of addicts in need of some serious rehab. Want perky breasts or a six-pack? There is a quick fix surgical treatment for that, no need to pad a bra or waste time exercising.

We're living in a youth obsessed culture of convenience from our food, health, beauty, or just fill in the blank and we're in denial over our addiction.

And while we're living this youth obsessed culture of convience, we're being callous towards each other in the process. Let's take a few examples from my workplace.

"Do you need to borrow money to colour your hair?" an outspoken co-worker blurts out loud.

On another occasion a former boss suggests that I "shouldn't take it the wrong way" before she questions my motivation for letting my hair go grey. "You look so much younger when you colour your hair", she adds.

It takes a strong person to stand up to the ageism in a work-place. Otherwise you will need a hefty bank account to cover hairdresser bills. And you'll have to be prepared for the backlash for standing up to the cultural norms.

The youth obsessed rhetoric has also echoed from within my own family in the form of "fat" comments from my elderly father and "old hag" comments from my youngest brother. Here gender imbalance intertwines with their ageist rhetoric.

Women deal with callous comments regarding the natural aging process far more times than their male counterparts. Men are often seen as distinguished when they grey. The cruel reach of ageism seems to barely touch men. Consider Hugh Hefner, 85. On second thought, let's not consider Hefner.

Rather let's consider Ari Seth Cohen's blog Advance Style celebrating the stylish and often forgotten older set. He is coming out with a book early next year chronicling the stylish folks that celebrate fashion with confidence that the youth obsessed masses lack while they're shopping at the mall.

Why do so many women buy into the youth obsessed notion of forever 21 young? Why are they buying into the marketing of hair colour, plastic surgery and spa treatments that promise youthfulness? I personally would like to know.

And believe me I've spend some serious coin at the beauty salon. But it was never about looking young. In my youth, I would dye my hair to follow fashion trends, not to try to appear an age that I'm not.

I'm proud of my age, the life I have lived so far, the life yet to come, and the battle scars that have come with it. Oh yes and the curves, I'm proud of the curves thanks to menopause despite what the males in my life express. So am I happy with the way I am, absolutely. I have no desire to be something other than me. But I have to admit, a wee part of me is inspired by the ladies in Advance Style.

4 comments:

  1. Excellent post! I've been thinking about this a lot, even though most would consider me young to be considering it. I just turned 30 this year, and I couldn't be happier to be out of my 20's. Maybe it's because I've been sewing for myself that I'm recognizing that the clothes in the malls are just not designed for me, either my body type (curvy and strong, thank you very much), or my actual age. I'm not interested in looking like a waif-thin girl, and I certainly can't pull off the skin-tight clothes that are popular. Those clothes really are for teenagers, but it's shoved at grown woman as what we should be able to wear to maintain our 'youth'.

    There's not much that bothers me more than when people call me a 'girl'. I know most don't mean anything by it, even a guy I was seeing always referred to me as one. But it bugs me because I'm a grown woman, not a child anymore. I've worked hard to get through my teen years, and even my early 20's, and I'm proud to be where I am now.

    Sadly, it's awkward to deal with at work (where I deal with construction and mine workers) because you know that the mentality behind it all is that I'm just a girl who is trying hard to work in a men's field, and I practically choke on the condescension and "oh let her try" vibe I get off people sometimes.

    What happened to the time when a girl couldn't wait to grow up and be a woman? Why do the majority of us never want to grow up? I certainly do, and it's annoying to try to do so when everyone and the media is screaming at me not to. I like my growing wrinkles, and I think my Grandma's laugh-lines are gorgeous. I'm looking forward to a time when the joy I've taken out of life shows up on my face like that!

    Anyways, you're probably shaking your head at someone like me popping in and blathering on about my personal experience with this topic when I'm still quite young (and still look younger than I am). I know I haven't experienced a drop of the problems out there (did your co-worker really say that?!), but awareness is key, eh? And I've been thinking about this a lot. Good to know I have more battles a head of me. :/

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so not shaking my head... well actually I am but not the way you might think. I so agree! Thanks for your comment and dialogue, I enjoyed reading it and could relate to some of your experiences too. I agree with your comment that beauty is in a grandmother's laugh lines rather than waif-thin peeps. I remember being happy to leave my twenties too. And yes, a co-worker really did say that! I don't know why people still amaze me sometimes, at least it gave me something to write about.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Grey hair and proud here! The age thing is a great topic. Not a new one though. About the most superficial yet emotional part of the process: Both my mother and mother in law hate grey hair so it goes back a while. Not everyone thinks it's bad, though. When I was dating again after being widowed I was surprised to find that many guys do like the natural look and told me so. It seems not all are only interested in the young ladies. I had more dates then than when I was in my 20's. Go figure. Married one of those grey haired guys, by the way.
    I'll be checking out Advance Style, thanks for the link.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yarn Diva, thanks for your comment! Luv happy endings.

    ReplyDelete

Strawberry Fields Apron

I picked up this strawberry field print quilting cotton fabric and seam binding yesterday to make Mom an apron. She's been waiting for ...