People comment about how old women look all the time, “Oooh she’s aged.” As if getting older is something we should sort out. As if it’s a failure on our part. Crikey, not the dreaded oldness! Not the ageing and passing of time.
Why are you not doing something about that?
It’s OK to get wiser but please don’t look ancient. Magazines don’t help. ‘She doesn’t look 57! She’s 65 and looks 40! She’s 40 and looks 30! He’s a she and doesn’t look 56!’
We spend our teen years trying to look older so we can get into clubs, then, once we’re older we celebrate looking younger as if it’s something we can control.
A friend was giving a speech recently and before she went on she asked, “Do I look old?” My heart broke for a moment. She doesn’t look like the 24-year-old version of herself anymore but to me, and all those who love her, she’s beautiful. But she was wondering, in those anxious minutes, if she would walk out on stage and appear interesting enough. Would she look too old. It’s a heavy label.
I’m no exception. Whenever anyone takes a photo of me these days I think who is that middle-aged woman? I’m not that person. I only like photos when they’re a bit blurry, I’ve got sunglasses on, a hat, and I look like a younger version of myself. Not 45.
Not, the 45-year-old who looks 45.
Pfft. But if we stop seeing pictures of older faces we’ll continue to get shocked when we see them in the media, especially on social – where there is an army of young selfies marching from feed to feed. We’ll continue to think it’s something we should be ashamed of. This oldness.
So could you all start posting photos of your beautiful older selves please?
Sorry I can’t, selfies make me cringe. I don’t get the point.
Rachel Syme, the 12-year-old author of the book, Selfies, was interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand recently. It’s fascinating listening. Kim, naturally, argued selfies are indulgent, creating a generation of self-obsessed, vain young women (not concentrating on their education and minds) vs Rachel who argued selfies are actually good for self-esteem. She asked hundreds of women and men to send her selfies and got hardly any sex kittens in knickers. She got real people of different shapes and colour telling her what they liked about their selfie moment.
‘Getting braids for the first time as a transgender’,
‘When I decided I needed a therapist’,
‘When I felt uncomfortable at a ball so I took a photo to remind myself not to wear shit like that again.’
Rachel (who is not actually twelve) argues, “Every human is given a body and a face and then spends the rest of his or her life trying to feel at home there; and maybe worthiness is part of the basic package.”
That, apparently, is the point.
Maybe it’s OK, even quite good, to see ourselves as we are.
Another friend, Kate, took a selfie of her grey hair and posted it on Facebook this month. We all went nuts. Not actually for the grey hair, as that was mildly interesting, but for the fact that Kate showed us herself. Here I am getting older, no more hair dye. I don’t give a rats what you think.
In honour of seeing older faces in feeds, and to embrace my olderness, I decided I can’t be another middle-aged woman who doesn’t get the selfie. I gave it a whirl.
I took this photo but you know what I thought?
Oh no, not the 45-year-old who looks 45.
I look like I was going to say something but I got sidetracked watching Days Of Our Lives. I don’t even watch Days Of Our Lives. Is it even on?
I am my own worse enemy.
I tried again.
I’m not sure why I lay on my bed.
It seems a bit weird.
And that’s still not me.
You can’t see so much 45-year-old-ness (good) but I can’t see myself. I look like I should be wearing sensible brown shoes and stroking my rosary beads, making amends for what I thought about in that bed the night before.
I needed more personality.
Can we just agree I officially suck at selfies.
I look ridiculous.
We all know I’m not really surprised. That’s me acting surprised.
I not an actress.
And I am not surprised.
I am on my bed with my mouth open
If you saw this and met me you wouldn’t know it’s the same outstanding, intelligent, witty, extraordinary person.
So I gave up and fell asleep.
The next morning, I went down to the beach for a walk before everyone got up. When I came back I felt fantastic. No more worrier, I was a warrior. An ocean ninja. My 45-year-old body felt alive; I could do anything. I could walk 50km. I could leap off tall buildings. I could fight a dragon.
And I remembered the point of the selfie. Capture the feeling.
So I took this in the bathroom.
This is me. Here I am, feeling strong. 45 years old. Older than before.
I can get into clubs and pre-schools.
And I’m happy about that.
Which could be:
Be Your Age or Be You Rage
There’s no more photos.
Here’s one more seen as you got here.
It’s me fearing that if I take a real selfie all the people I know will think I’m indulgent and self-absorbed.
They won’t think it’s interesting.
But you know what? We’re all interesting.
Young. And old.
End of story.
Worthiness is part of the package.