Right now there is an ad in my Facebook sidebar featuring a picture of Diane Keaton and this phrase: “Is 60 The New 30? 1 Weird Trick That Makes Her Look Half Her Age!” (Yes, The Words Are All Capped.)
There is just so much wrong about that. I do not want to be 30 again, or even look 30. (In my humble opinion, I look better now.) Where do advertisers get off assuming that boomer women (these ads never target men, they apparently need to enhance other body parts), do not or should not embrace their age? It’s insulting.
Anti-aging marketing has been around forever. I suppose I notice it more now: this cream, that potion. Anti: unwilling, defiant, opposing, hostile, antagonistic, resistant, averse. I ask you, my friends of a certain age, do any of those words describe you? Age is a state of being, not a function of how we look. Yes, I will stay active to be healthy; I will read to stay sharp; I will dress and act in a way that speaks to who I am inside. But I will not be lured by promises in the sidebar of Facebook.
I didn’t click on the ad so I don’t know the trick. I am going to go out on a limb though and guess at Diane’s trick. She is 67, and she looks fabulous. And she looks that way because she embraces the aging adventure. She doesn’t spend her time and energy wishing to be other than who she is. Her love for life and her lifetime of experiences show in her face.
My mother celebrated her 97th birthday on June 11. It is astounding what has happened in the world since 1916, and what has happened to her personally. She did not live in a house with plumbing or electricity until she left her rural Tennessee homes (there were several; the family moved often to keep ahead of the creditors). She experienced the Great Depression after WWI and was a newlywed when her husband went overseas for four years during WWII. She has kept up a large home and property by herself since my father died 18 years ago next week. My life has been so easy by comparison.
Yes, my mother would rather be younger; her limitations frustrate her. She is not perfect, none of us are. I get frustrated by her endless search for a doctor who might make her eyes and ears and body work better than it’s ever going to. She doesn’t like it when they tell her she is amazing for her age; she wants to be whole. Amazing is a pretty great thing at any age, I think. But I’m not old-old yet, I don’t know how I will behave, so I try not to judge. Regardless, she is a strong and creative woman. And she walks fearlessly on, down the unmapped road to a certain destination. I am proud to be walking beside her as we both travel that road.
Aging is about being strong. About doing what has to be done. About figuring it out. It’s about anticipation. It’s about growth. It’s about becoming whole. It’s about becoming yourself. It’s about becoming better. It’s about becoming significant. It’s about becoming magnificent! Our experience shows in our faces in myriad ways; and all are beautiful.
In the words of author Joan Chittister: “Now that we are beyond the narcissism of youth, above the survival struggles of young adulthood, beyond the grind of middle age… This is the moment for which we were born.”
I want to be brave enough to tell the truth about pain and joy, life and aging, loss and death. I will let it show in my face. No anti-aging creams or tricks for me. I will wear cute glasses and not fret that they may look more cute on Diane Keaton. I would wear chic hats like she is addicted to if they didn’t look stupid on me. I won’t wear kicky clothes—or dowdy clothes—because they really aren’t me. It’s not about “looking your age” or trying to look another age. No one gets to decide for us what that should look like. People say to me, and have long said to me, things that imply I don’t look my age (which will, proudly, be 61 next week). To which I say, this is what this age looks like. At least on me.
I am going to look forward to what comes next—and make sure I always have something to look forward to. I am going to embrace my age as long as I am around to do so. I would like the marketing community to embrace the aging process, too. Advertise good reads about people in the second half of life, good movies featuring boomer-aged actors living boomer-aged lives, the benefits of yoga and healthy eating. And if you can’t help us be naturally magnificent as we age, then watch us do it without you.
60 Is The New 60. And 70 Is The New 70. And 80 Is The New 80. She-zaam!