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.
If you have been following Sixty and Me for a while, you are probably very aware that I consider the idea that women over 60 should “age gracefully” as being somewhat outdated. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking it easy – if that’s what you want – but, the idea that older women should be seen and not heard really annoys me.
I love books. I always have. When I was younger, books were my escape, my education and my entertainment. They allowed me to grow and learn and to slip into places to discover parts of myself that were not defined by the outside world.
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.
Do you every feel like life takes on a momentum of its own? I know I do! As we pass through the decades of our lives, one decision blends into the next. Finally, as we reach our 60s and we finally have time to evaluate our lives, it’s easy to wonder “how did I get here?”
When it comes to ageism in Hollywood, the winds of change may soon become a hurricane. Over the last few years, numerous celebrities, including Antonio Banderas and Madonna have spoken out against the evils of ageism. Of course, age discrimination is not limited to Hollywood. Far from it! But, having a few powerful voices on our side can’t hurt.
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.
When I interviewed developmental molecular biologist (try saying that 3 times fast) John Medina about how to keep your brain healthy after 60, he was full of useful advice. For the most part, his recommendations fell into the “things we know in our hearts that we should be doing” category – getting more exercise, improving our sleep and learning to deal with stress.
Being a woman is hard work. For most of our lives, we are battered around by external and internal forces alike. As girlfriends, mothers, wives, colleagues and grandmothers, we have to deal with the expectations of others. At the same time, we are often our own worst critics. We worry about how we look. We criticize our own decisions. We worry about the future. And on… and on.