Most people over 50 don’t consider themselves “old.” And, why should we? After all, most of us aren’t planning on retiring any time soon. Our aches and pains are occasional, not chronic. Our brains are buzzing along happily, with few, if any signs of forgetfulness or mental fuzziness.
At the same time, it often feels like the world expects us to start slowing down.
The problem with aging stereotypes is that they can become self-fulfilling prophesies. When we see example after example in movies and on TV of older people getting grumpy, boring and disconnected from the world in their later years, we start to believe that this is “normal.”
Today, I came across an interesting analogy by Jane Fonda. I haven’t read her book, “Prime Time,” yet, but, the idea stuck out enough that I want to mention it here.
As the founder of Sixty and Me, I know just how difficult picking names for groups of people can be. After all, some people are proud to be called baby boomers, while others want nothing to do with the title.
Well, according to Helen Mirren, there are two words that no one should call a woman – “sassy” and “feisty.” In an interview with The Times, she said that “We need new words for female power and funniness and smartness.”
I love pomegranates. I’m not just talking about how wonderful they taste – although they are certainly delicious. I’m talking about something slightly deeper. Pomegranates remind us that what is on the inside really matters. In fact, as you probably already know, sometimes the ones that look the roughest on the outside are the sweetest on the inside.
When I was a little girl, I was always coming home with bumps and bruises. No, I wasn’t fighting with the other kids at school (I was a good girl!) The reason that I was always a bit battered was that I refused to accept my physical boundaries. I loved to try new things and when I failed I just dusted myself off and tried again. Then I grew up…
Hollywood has never taken a particularly positive view on aging. In the movies, older characters are usually portrayed as “over the hill,” grumpy and out of touch. The aging process itself is usually presented as something to be feared, not embraced.
I have mixed feelings about Sandra Bullock being promoted as People’s “most beautiful woman” for 2015. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see a 50-year-old woman being held up as a symbol of beauty. In addition, Bullock has always struck me as a genuine person, who cares about her family and the world around her.
How old is old? In most western countries, retirement age is the milestone after which someone becomes “elderly” or a “senior.” But, is this really fair? After all, in 1930, around the time that Social Security was established, a 65-year-old woman could expect to live 12.8 years. By contrast, a woman that turned 65 in 2009 could expect to live 20.3 years.
Two personality traits that are commonly (and unfairly) associated with people in their 60s are selfishness and conservatism. It really does feel like the world expects us to live in a shrinking world the second we reach our 60th birthday.
Many women – and quite a few men for that matter – worry about getting older. Personally, I was 49 for several years, before finally admitting to the world, and myself, that I was in my 50s.
It’s not just the obvious things that we worry about, like wrinkles or a few extra pounds. Many of us obsess about more important things, like how to find meaning in our lives now that our kids have left the house or how to build new friendships as our social situations change.