There was this piece in the Boston Globe last night about how we need to rebrand Middle Age for the generation who started calling Meditation – Mindfulness.
I turned 42 last week and now I have a bunion forming on my left foot. It hurt for the first time yesterday. There could be a whole post here about how my feet have always been my favorite feature and how I’m freaking out about losing my one physically attractive bit but that’s some shit I need to work through. My feet are still cute as heck but the rest of me isn’t bad either.
To mitigate the damage, however, I spent some time last weekend starting to edit my closet. Especially deleting uncomfortable heels. (You can have my Franco Sarto wedges when you pry them off my cold dead feet, but I’m setting the Rachel Roy studded snakeskin stilettos loose on Poshmark soon.)
I don’t want my forties and fifties – my sixties- let’s be honest – any age ever, to be wished away in longing for my twenties and thirties. I want to understand and appreciate this age for what it is. And in the same way that people enthusiastically took back “fat” or “queer” or even the conversation about mental illness – reclaiming the power of those words for ourselves – maybe it is time to do the same for “middle aged”. Or as Lisa Nagel in the Globe article calls it “mid-century modern”.
Women age, and we are told that as we age we become less valuable, less interesting, less desirable. We should be grateful for being given jobs, for being given attention, we should be quiet, motherly, soft, or we should be doing everything we can possibly do to pretend we are 10 years younger, suffering to be something else. Fuck. That. Noise. I do what I want. “Anti-Aging” is a trap – we are supposed to be panicking that someone younger is going to come along and replace us. We are supposed to put up with a stagnant job because we are lucky to get what we get.
There was an awesome piece in the New York Times last year by Ashton Applewhite about the BS “Anti-Aging Demon” and the way we disempower ourselves and each other when we compete viciously in a game where we aren’t even willing participants.
Appearance matters. Adornment pleases. But society’s obsession with the way women look is less about beauty than about obedience to a punishing external standard — and power. When women compete to “stay young,” we collude in our own disempowerment. When we rank other women by age, we reinforce ageism, sexism, lookism and patriarchy. What else we can we all agree on? This is one bad bargain. It sets us up to fail. It pits us against one another. It’s why the poorest of the poor, around the world, are old women of color.
Much in the same way that rich white men make billions of dollars a year on our dissatisfaction with our weight, other rich white men make billions of dollars a year on our dissatisfaction with our age. Overturning those apple carts would be really satisfying.
I am just barely scratching at the surface of what should be a daily conversation. So get ready – there will be a lot more of this. In the meantime I’m following Ashton Applewhite’s Facebook page: This Chair Rocks. Join me!