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A New Generation of Mature Women Staying Fabulous and Fierce

By Alexandra Kathryn Mosca February 06, 2024 Mindset

Not long ago, I stumbled upon an old article from 2008 in MORE magazine. MORE ceased publishing almost a decade ago, but I had made a point of holding onto the article. Written by author Erica Jong, “How to Thrive When Your Babe Days Are Over” offered a provocative perspective on embracing life beyond youth, with Jong highlighting the importance of thriving in all stages of life – even in a culture that often glorifies youth.

“Let’s face it, ageism – especially the kind directed toward women – is everywhere,” she wrote in her candid and thought-provoking article. “There we are in the full power of our lives, and we have to accept tongue lashings from the young and green.”

As I delved deeper into the article, Jong’s message was clear: we could not rest on our physical attributes – which are fleeting at best – as we moved through life. She encouraged readers to challenge the notion that our worth diminishes as we grow older and to embrace wisdom, experience, and an evolving sense of self.

Jong’s words resonated deeply with me; they were just what I needed to hear at the time to help quell my own fears about becoming an invisible member of society.

In the intervening years since that article was published, a new generation of mature women has emerged. And we are not ready, nor willing, to be shunted off the stage. We still have much to offer and much to do.

As society continues to evolve, so does the concept of aging. Gone are the days when reaching a certain age meant being relegated to the sidelines. We’ve come a long way from when, in 1989, 39-year-old Jane Pauley was considered past her prime as a television news anchor and replaced by a younger, and blonder, Debra Norville.

Today, at 73, Pauley is the host of CBS Sunday Morning.” A new generation of mature women is challenging traditional notions of aging and forging new paths or expanding on their already successful careers.

Supermodels Turned Role Models

Among the 60-plus generation, there’s a growing movement of high-profile women who are using their celebrity status to challenge societal views and normalize aging. Christie Brinkley is one of them.

Brinkley, who turns 70 this year, has shown that age is no barrier to success. In her former life as a model, she graced the covers of countless magazines. But these days she has embarked on some new ventures. She is the head of Bellissima, an organic sparkling wine brand, and will be the face of a clothing line, called TWRLL, set to launch in the spring.

Brinkley regularly shares glimpses of her busy life on her Instagram feed, proving that age is just a number. She recently posted that “women in their 60s,70s, and beyond are continuing to thrive and realize their dreams! Fearlessly reaching for their goals, or newly imagined pivots! Embracing change and going for it keeps us young at heart and mind!”

Paulina Porizkova is another former model who has become an advocate for older women by candidly sharing her life – and even her recent hip replacement. Despite having experienced the pressures and expectations that come with aging in the public eye, both women have chosen to embrace their age and promote self-acceptance.

Through their positive posts and encouraging messages, they have created a welcoming space for older women and fostered a supportive sisterhood. “Look, a woman with wrinkles on the cover of a magazine,” Porizkova wrote in a recent post that accompanied a photo of her on the cover of a French magazine.

“Being represented means being validated.”

The takeaway: being relevant and contributing is not limited to youth or physical appearance, and these women are leading the way in promoting this message.

Success Stories That Defy Age

Brinkley and Porizkova gained fame at the peak of their modeling careers, but there are numerous other mature women over 60, who did not walk the runway during fashion week yet continue to be shining examples of success that has not diminished with age.

Patti Martin Bartsche is one of them. Bartsche had a long career in journalism before joining Kates-Boylston Publications, a New Jersey based funeral trade magazine publisher, in 2011. Today, she serves as its editorial director. It is a job, she says, that has “opened me up to great people I would not have had the opportunity to know otherwise.”

Reflecting on the societal pressures that often dictate how we should look, behave, and feel as we age, Bartsche said, “We all, in our own way, have so much to give, and I don’t want someone to tell me that I can’t do something because of my age.”

In fact, Bartsche posits that often some of the limits we put on ourselves are “self-internalized.”

“Listen to that voice inside of you and do what is best for you, rather than following a path that society may expect,” she advised.

The notion that we should step aside at a certain age is one Bartsche sees as foolish. “What is important, though, is that we step in a new direction.” And for that, she has a great model: her 87-year-old mother, Bobbi Martin, who still works as a substitute teacher after decades of teaching full-time.

And when people pose the question, “When are you going to retire?” her response is priceless: “Do I have an expiration date?”

Staying open to new possibilities can lead to unexpected opportunities that you may have never considered before. It did for Pam Lamp of Nashville, Tennessee, who hosts the popular website and podcast series, “Who I Met Today.”

“For years, I wrestled with figuring out what I wanted to do with the time I had left. I figured I was too old, and I had waited too long to really sink my teeth into a meaty project. The truth? I was scared of putting myself out there,” she said.

Eventually, she did, creating “Who I Met Today,” a website where Lamp interviews interesting people of all ages and all walks of life. The site’s tag line “everyone has a story” encapsulates the premise of the site.

“It’s been the scariest – and the best – adventure of my life,” she said.

“I think sometimes women have talked themselves into age-related stereotypes – I’m too old, it’s too late, I can’t do this now because no one will take me seriously, I haven’t kept up with popular culture or technology. But, nowadays, we ‘older women’ are better at forging ahead, researching and learning, and doing what we want to do.”

Lamp has learned that being appreciated is a great motivator. “Once we realize we do have a voice that people listen to, it makes us want to do more,” she said.

Confidence is key at any age, and funeral director Doris Amen exudes confidence. She stands tall, speaks her mind, and believes in her abilities. She is also engaged in one of the few professional careers in which older age is an asset.

Amen has owned a funeral home in Brooklyn, New York, since 1989, and is a fixture in both the neighborhood and the funeral industry. As young people come and go in funeral service, she remains a constant. For her, retirement is out of the question, and Amen has a one-word answer for those who ask: “Never.” She is deeply connected to the work she does, having built her business on her special ability to relate to the people she serves.

“We have worked hard to earn our position on the ladder of life,” she said. And with true Brooklyn moxie she dares anyone to kick her off. “We have wisdom and life experience that the younger generation lacks.” As she says: “I forgot what they haven’t learned yet.” She also has one reminder for younger people: “One day they will know what it’s like; no one stays young forever.”

Here Are Some Additional Tips on How to Stay Fabulous and Fierce:

  1. Embrace self-acceptance. Instead of fighting against the passing of time, learn to embrace aging. Cherish the moments and memories that have shaped you.
  2. Surround yourself with positive influences. These connections can provide support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
  3. Cultivate new interests. Explore new interests and hobbies that align with your current self and lifestyle. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
  4. Set new goals. Take time to reflect on your passions, values, and aspirations. Define new goals that align with the current phase of your life. Having a sense of purpose will help you stay motivated and focused.
  5. Stay intellectually engaged. Never stop learning and challenging yourself. Consider taking up new courses, attending workshops, or joining book clubs to continue expanding your knowledge and interests.

Above all, be mindful of the progress you have already made and the experiences that have shaped you. As you continue to write your own remarkable story, remember that age doesn’t define you.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you consider yourself fierce and fabulous? Who are your role models and how do they inspire you? What have you accomplished at your current age that makes you feel relevant?

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Here is a quote: “When even from a wheelchair, by the lifting of a book, the turning of a dial, the tired mind can delve into the limitless world of ideas … Science could not have intended that the gift of years should become the nursery for children with old faces.” from Anatomy of Me by Fannie Hurst c. 1958 Some of her novels were made into movies.

jane sawyer

Thanks so much, Alexandra!! Your article hit the “sweet spot,” of my interests. I’m pursuing Retirement Coaching certificate after leaving higher education; being treated for cancer; founding and running a chemo hat company; being the primary caregiver then estate executer for my dad; and now a freelance writer. Our generation of mature women CAN indeed “retire,” or “unretire,” as we remain physically active; mentally stimulated, emotionally connected, involved in our communities while deepening our spiritual lives. Let’s NOT get pigeonholed into default childcare or volunteer roles or surround ourselves with people who are negative!! Let’s advocate for our growing population of “olders,” find our support systems and adapt to our unexpected or changing circumstances!!


Glad to see this reminder today– I loved MORE magazine! always positive AND thought provoking. Reinvention, moving on, and for me, intellectual recycling! I’m reconsidering ideas and plans from the past that actually resonate in these current connected times.Seeing what younger women can accomplish and realizing their tools are also mine to use is propelling me forward. Thank you for this provocative articvle


Great article! I started substitute teaching last year at 75!


I doubt my *Babe Days* will ever be over. I’m having a fabulous time at age 61…I’m just getting started and LOVING every minute of it.!!

The Author

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca has worked as a funeral director in New York for more than 35 years. She is the author of three books: Grave Undertakings, Green-Wood Cemetery and Gardens of Stone and has contributed articles to Newsday, New York Daily News, The Saturday Evening Post and funeral industry publications. Visit her website here

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