Let’s Say No to Aging Stereotypes and Embrace Our True Selves
So, I’m busy deleting all those Facebook sidebar adverts for funeral plans, lawyers who will arrange Power of Attorney and annuity providers when it suddenly hits me: who the cotton-picking heck do these people think I am? Closely followed by: who do I think I am?
Ok, I may be almost 66. I may have a free bus pass, creaky knees and two grandkids (new grandbaby boy just arrived), but I’m not quite ready to shuffle off my mortal coil and head for the great remainder bookstore in the sky yet, even though Facebook clearly thinks I am tottering on the edge of rampant senility.
Back in the day, older people like us were lumped together as “pensioners,” regardless of their actual age, which could vary from 60 to 90.
Now, with all of us living longer, healthier and more active lives, I don’t think we can possibly be put in the same basket any more. Besides, a survey done in 2012 found that our top name pick was “senior,” rather than pensioner.
With this in mind, one of those annoying credit-checking companies has now come up with four demographic categories to define older people. In the interests of enlightenment and driving you slightly mad, I thought I’d share them. Ready?
- Smarties: senior market town retirees
- Diamond Days: affluent mortgage-free suburbanites
- Senior Security: well-off but risk-averse
- Vintage Value: not well-off
Yes. In their attempt to demolish elderly stereotyping, they have come up with… Ta-Daa: different elderly stereotyping. You feel like giving them a good kicking? Stand in line, sistah!
Of course there are always the tried and trusted Silver Foxes, Grey Panthers, Silver and Gold, Silver Surfers and (ugh!) Cougars to fall back on. Personally, I find these demeaning because basically it’s just further stereotyping but with cutesy names.
Another area where stereotyping is just not cutting it any more is fashion. It used to be that as soon as you hit your late sixties, you suddenly and mysteriously developed a taste for thick lisle stockings, pleated skirts and baggy cardigans. Actually, I grew out of all those when I left school.
Look, there are so many opportunities now for us to create our own amazing styles…
I think of lovely ladies like Zandra Rhodes and Irene Apfel – older women who stick two fingers up to the imposed stereotyping and say: “Hey, you don’t like who I am or what I’m wearing? Bite me!”
Personally, I’m a jeans girl. Jeans are an item of clothing that my mother would never have worn in her day, but, fortunately, I don’t take fashion advice from my mother any more. Give me skinny jeans, a plain top, boots and a leather jacket and I’m good to go.
So let’s mutually agree to ditch all the silly imposed stereotyping and be exactly who we want to be, shall we? Oh and by the way just for the record, I’m a SOABIO: that’s “Seniors Outside Aldi Before It Opens.”
So how about you? Do you fit into any perceived category? Do you want to? Please join the conversation.
Carol Hedges is the successful author of fifteen novels for teenagers and adults. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes: her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and her historical novel Diamonds & Dust was listed for the 2013 CWA Historical Dagger. She is a cancer survivor, a vintage car driver, a cat owner and a doting grandma. She is currently writing the fifth book in her Victorian Crime series. She blogs on her website and posts on Facebook and Twitter about her life, her writing and minding her small granddaughter.