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!
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?
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 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 12) 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. 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. My 45-year-old body felt alive; I could do anything. I could jump over waves. 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.
Haha, you beat me to the punch. I just started a piece, “I Welcome Age” Club. Less about selfies (I already self-indulged in one of those) but more about aging as a privilege. I love all your selfies because they are all captured moments of you in different looks, different backgrounds, different seconds immortalized forever. And, as my husband points out, the best part is they’re free to take as many as you want!
Well that’s a first. Usually I look at your headlines and think darn, she did it again…. how is she writing about what’s in my head? Are you in the exclusive mid-life-writing-our-way-through-the-crisis-45-year-old club too? I agree with you, ageing is a privilege. Some people don’t get to do it.
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Yeah well I guess seeing people your age drop dead all around, I’ll take my gray hair and new spots. Besides it gave me an excuse to try blonde.
I’m 45 too, but I haven’t made my peace with selfies yet. I’m pretty sure there’s something terribly wrong with the camera on my phone. It’s like a fun-house mirror camera, or something. You go on, I’ll catch up. :)
Have your kids help you with your phone.
I could’ve used their help jumping through the hoops of getting my driver’s license transferred today. I got scolded for not filling out the right hand side of the form, for example.
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Are we all having a mid-life crisis and instead of buying a Harley Davidson we’re simply blogging? I suspect so. We need to fix that. We need to write and ride at the same time. Then you might be inspired to take a selfie Walt Walker. And then you could be Walt Rider, right?
I am Walt Rider as of today. I like the sound of it.
I am on record as having had my mid-life crisis in my twenties. Ask anyone. What’s happening now, I can’t account for.
Love this. I sit in an office with about 40 digital nerds who average at least 20 years younger than my 52.5 year old self. I often haven’t had time to apply any makeup, and my hair is naturally dried. That’s me, take it or leave it. I do take the odd selfie, solo or with one child, usually sans FX and only because we need more pics of me in the family digital collection.
Yes, the mum stays in the picture. Good work Dons. Lately I’ve been wearing bright red lipstick (vagina on my face I know) but it makes me feel dangerous. xxxx
Hey, this must be the place where the 45’ers hang out. Woo hoo! I just got cold! Is it cold in here? I’m tired. That’s too loud!
Anyhow, the photos look good because they look real — woo hoo! Real! And the last one reminds me of the Blair Witch Project and the girl who was like REALLY FREAKING OUT, for good reason. My god! Did you see that? I did, but I don’t quite remember it.
I took a note the other day about my 10-year-old who’s trying to look like, a lot older and sort of succeeding and thought along similar lines to yours, that we spend so much of our youth trying to look older, and what a pity when that one or two months of our lives comes and goes where we look the way we should and then we try to put it in reverse and that doesn’t work either. As a middle-aged guy, I went through this thing in Seattle where all of us started wearing “hip socks.” Like, that became the corporate thing to really fun it up, with your socks. And man did I feel lame feeling cool like that, with my socks. Keeping it real is really hard. But we’re all food for the worms or some dust cloud of ash or some sad, untouchable thing in an urn when you get down to it.
OK, hope you don’t block my comments henceforth. Bye! Gotta get some shut eye! Bill
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Oh I would never block your comments. I love long rants especially when they have hip socks (as opposed to feet socks!!) and witches and death in the same stream of consciousness. So if we’re all keeping it real in this club I have to admit I am the only 45 year old I know who hasn’t seen the Blair Witch Project and I keep asking friends to watch it with me but they all have. Sheesh. I know. I’ll just have to wait until my kids get slightly older so that they don’t freak out that their MOM in the bathroom is the girl in the movie.
I would certainly recommend the film. Watched it again recently and it’s truly frightening to me, with like zero violence, only implied, the best kind. Outside the frame. But keep it away from your kids for sure.
French movies and you are my antidote to the dreaded oldness – check out Fanny Ardant in Chic! proving that at 66 it’s not your age its your attitude!
[…] Glamourising and normalising cosmetic surgery creates this notion that our appearance is a problem, and something to fix. That it’s an ongoing DIY project. […]
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