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How to Grow Old Gracefully… and Happily?

Madonna, queen of the airbrush. Who’s that 52 year-old-girl? Cover up, Madge! The world’s press up in arms with Madonna’s latest Dolce & Gabbana campaign. Everyone wondering when will the blonde diva start acting her age?

My name is Jessie and yes, I’m a Madonna fan. However, I am not writing this post to defend her  - does she even need anyone to speak out for her? Really?

I just want to set the record straight for my parents, my siblings, the nuns that taught me how to read, my literature teacher and my former employers. For my future children and grandchildren. I just refuse to act my age… ever. And when I’m 50, I sure won’t take any lip from anyone. Is that so wrong?

Why is it that nowadays, when the fight for women’s rights has achieved so much, that still, so many feel like they can demand a lady to “act her age”? So many women want to sabotage the right of  being sexy and desirable for women after 50? Maybe it’s because at that age one is supposed to cover up and hide away. No skin left bare, no push-up bras or fitted clothing for that matter.

Many of you will say “well she is a mother, she should set an example” of what? What if she is happy dating younger guys, what if staying fit makes her smile? What if she is teaching her kids to do whatever makes them happy, no matter the opinion of others? She is doing what she wants and wouldn’t we all love to do that?

Just imagine. Doing anything we liked, going anywhere in the planet, not letting the world tell us to work longer hours, sacrifice our happiness, and get nothing in return but low pay, stress-induced illnesses and painful stomach ulcers. Wouldn’t we be kinder to our neighbours? Wouldn’t we all smile more? However, all we love to do is throw sexist and derogative words to a woman we really don’t know.

“But her children look up to her!” I hear you say. She is not living her children’s life, is she? She is living her own life.

“What ever happened to growing old gracefully?” What ever happened to growing old with a huge smile and a spark in one’s eye?

The truth is, that there have been women and men, before us, struggling to establish our present rights and freedoms. Nowadays women are still tortured and killed for living a life they believe in, whilst a lot us in the comfortable Western world, can talk about sex over lunch, just like Carrie and Co did. We won’t get men dragging us to jail, we will even have our mothers giggling next to us. Why? because, like many other brave women, Madonna put erotica in our coffee tables in the 90s.

In some places we are so fortunate that we can hold the hand of whoever we like, kiss a boy or a girl, or both, and marry whoever we want. Years back, Madonna was telling little girls and boys everywhere to speak up and ask for what they wanted. Still now, teenagers are staring at pictures of the 80s wanting to feel empowered like the blonde girl in the picture.

“She is too old to set an example now” Will it really only be me thanking Madonna for when I’m well over my 50s, confident, fabulous and feeling free to be sexy without being scolded or told to cover up?

Women in their fifties don’t need our permission, and they could also do without our judgement.

The media is saturated with criticism over celebrities’ bodies, the way certain famous folk hold their babies, or the kind of underwear a teen pop starlet should wear. We are objectifying everything: weight, religion, age. We talk about celebrities in such sordid ways without realising that, really, we are talking about ourselves. When you despise Madonna for posing in her underwear at 52, you are despising every single 50-year-old woman in the world who may want to be more than just a piece of furniture.

Picture: Dolce & Gabbana via Daily Mail

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  • @FashionCrazy_ October 2, 2010, 8:09 pm

    Great post! I completely agree. I think its a double standard – fighting for womens rights, and the saying "you're too old to be wearing that".

    I think the main difference is that Madonna is in the public eye. Im sure if we personally knew a Madonna in real life, we would be congratulating her on her confidence to wear what she liked!

    Society just likes to nit-pick every little thing celebs do.

    For me, Madge, just like ANY OTHER human being, can do as they wish. Id rather not see her so bare, but I guess thats because I, like everyone else, have been brainwashed to believe that young = beauty and old = ugliness.

    Just my two cents though… ;)

  • Anonymous October 2, 2010, 8:26 pm

    Well said!!! People need to get over judging others already. How much time do we have on this planet? Should it be mindlessly spent constantly pointing, picking and poking at others or shall we use the time that we have wisely and rock this wave of life?! It’s all about rocking this adventure!! Madonna is a grown up, she can do and wear what she likes! My few cents :)

  • Annebeth October 2, 2010, 9:40 pm

    I totally and utterly agree and it is so easy to stoop down to quick judgement, forgetting all the work that has been done to emancipate women. And the worst thing is that a LOT of the time, it is actually women that are judging other women.

    But on the other hand, aging gracefully also has something to do with not desperately holding onto the way you looked when you were young and considered hot. Aging gracefully is about being comfortable in your own skin, not trying to be something you're not. Madonna, her excessive airbrushing, her botox and cheek implants etcetera etcetera almost seem to say 'growing older is bad, you should look young and hot at ALL times even if that means you have to let surgeons cut you up'. Truth is, it's very hard to say something about something like this on a broad level. We should just mind our own business and not judge people for their own decisions considering their own lives. The only reason people judge other people, is because we are all insecure. When we're talking about other people, we're actually talking about ourselves Sometimes it just feels good to talk crap about someone.

    Ok that was deep :D

  • Reena Rai October 3, 2010, 1:47 pm

    Great post. I personally don't really like the advert but agree with ur sentiment.

    I think society is pathetic for all of these 'grow old gracefully' and 'act ur age' judgements thrown around. At what age exactly are women supposed to let go of who they are and buy a wardrobe of twinsets and knee length pleated skirts?!

    Madonna is Madonna, she's spent her life being who she is and causing controversy. It's ridiculous that people expect her to change herself just because she's a mother or a certain age. It's like society would be more comfortable putting her in a pigeon-hole rather than allowing her the freedom to be herself.

  • Veshoevius October 5, 2010, 1:25 pm

    Fantastic post! Totally agree with you!

  • Fashion Limbo October 5, 2010, 5:43 pm

    thanks ever so much for reading and commenting, you all made my "rant" worth it and made me smile A LOT

  • Laura Connell October 7, 2010, 11:57 pm

    I'm so glad you went this way with your post! At first I was afraid it was going to go the other way! You're right; Madge has moved women forward immensely and deserves our admiration and respect. I always get the "YOU'RE a mother?" thing, too. I decided to take it as a positive ie. I must be pretty hot :)

  • Amy October 8, 2010, 3:20 am

    Oh god, THANK YOU for writing this. There's so much judgment in the fashion world, despite an at least equal amount of creativity (so many designers shaking up expectations, and so many critics taking all the fun out of how we dress). I've been pretty good about ignoring most of the "rules" of fashion (dressing for your figure, the current season, what have you), but one that still gets to me is dressing for your age. So many articles on what's 'appropriate' at 20, 30, 70…appropriate for whom? Why do twenty-somethings get to have all the fun, while the older women are forced to be respectable role models…for the ones who get to have all the fun? It's a paradox. It doesn't make any sense. And it's nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks so.

  • ninasays October 8, 2010, 12:16 pm

    Very good food for thought. Thanks for this post :) Best wishes from Germany!

  • Amber October 8, 2010, 1:48 pm

    I agree with you 100% – I'm now getting to an age where I've started to pull outfits out of my closet and think, "Wait, should I really be wearing this at my age?" I absolutely HATE that, and I hate the idea of reaching "a certain age" and then having to push my love of fashion aside and start wearing low heels and "sensible" clothes, so I can only applaud women like Madonna for paving the way towards making it acceptable for women of ANY age to enjoy fashion. And sure, she's a slightly different case because, well, she's Madonna, but I always feel reassured when I see women who're no longer in their twenties wearing whatever they want to wear.

  • Cynthia October 9, 2010, 3:41 pm

    I tell you, you get to a certain age and you don't have to wear low heels because of what society tells you, you might have to wear them because of foot pain. This has happened to me literally over the last year or two and it's been hard both on my shoe love and my ballroom dancing hobby.

    In general though, I agree with the principle that we should wear what we feel comfortable in — and it needs to go both ways. I feel like I might be considered frumpy by fashionista standards. I have always favored knee length skirts and I am quite happy in flats, and I see no reason to abandon what I like and feel comfortable in to be "on trend".

  • Fashion Limbo October 9, 2010, 7:56 pm

    I'm so happy that you are all commenting and liking what I wrote. Why do we, as a society, feel like we can judge and tell people what not to wear or how not to behave at an age? when we are mature enough and experienced to have earned the right to simply be "us", whether on high heels, flats, mini skirts or longer frocks, dating younger men or older guys… Some of us may be older, younger, mothers, single ladies… who cares, who we are should not give others permission to define us.
    THANKS so much for reading xxxxx

  • Farm Girl Fashionista October 12, 2010, 6:53 pm

    AMEN!! Well said!! I'm struggling with a birthday around the corner and accepting the aging process. This was a refreshing…and much needed…read today! Thank you for putting it out there!!

    http://thefarmgirlfashionista.blogspot.com/

    http://thefarmgirlfashionista.blogspot.com/

  • Birdie! October 13, 2010, 5:19 pm

    Well said! Acting "your age" is a load of bull – who determines what "your age" is anyway, and who determines how someone "your age" should act?

  • kristy eléna October 31, 2010, 5:28 pm

    this is a great post and i agree with you wholeheartedly. i'm so sick of hearing people say shit like this. please. when i'm 50 i hope to look as fabulous as madonna and i definitely plan to work out and dress the way i feel best and anyone who has a problem with that can kiss my tight ass! =P

    Vogue Gone Rogue

  • Fashion Limbo November 2, 2010, 9:18 am

    Thanks for everyone's comments, loved every single one of them xxxxx