I don’t know what the answer is, but I can tell you what it isn’t, at the very least for me. It isn’t to attempt to seem or act more radiant. It isn’t to write blog posts about how hot/thin/beautiful/ sexy middle-aged women are. They are, but throwing away my written voice on supporting shallow initiatives at ongoing conformity to what is expected of women in a patriarchal civilization does not feel beneficial. It is a dangerous surrender. It invites women my age to exchange away opportunities to weigh in on concerns for a chance to become among the “seen” again. I won’t participating in a game I detest, which I did not create and can not win.
To become an aging woman in The United States of America is to become constantly bombarded by imagery and media that outstrip your younger feminist sisters from you, given that the idea of not resembling those youthful pictures of femininity and becoming invisible frightens them. I resemble a traditional 51-year-old, and it is just strange discovering that my aesthetics is something many young women dread.
Ageism is a life-altering discrimination affecting women in ways that are different than the impacts on men– different in age of onset and degree and individual consequence. If we continue to be negated in the next half of our lives, we will continue being stuck in a reoccurring cycle of conflating youth with greater social relevance in the first half of our lives, and the patriarchal axiom that women are only important when they are young, hot and fertile will continue unchallenged.
Let’s stick together. Let’s make a mindful effort to stop putting down older women to set oneself aside from them and from an inescapable form of racism that can not currently be escaped. Regardless of what you think about Madonna at 77, or Jamie Lee Curtis at 7, let’s concede that most of us will someday be 66, if we aren’t already, and we’ll want to define for ourselves what that means.
Surely it will involve significance and reputation, whether we are singers, entertainers, authors, activists, or any other identity we have selected and loved. As feminists we are stronger with each other than apart– women of all ethnicities, of all gender expressions, of all sexual preferences, of all socioeconomic classes, of all religious beliefs, of all ethnicities, and yes, of all ages, too.
Women over 50 are changing themselves together with the world. Retirement is not even on their radar, and they are not going to stay home, go to book club, participate in bridge and monitor the world go by as their mothers did at this age. That will come much later. Now, they are transforming themselves for something better and taking on life with a new spirit and tenaciousness that is making them more noticeable, providing new self-confidence and producing enjoyment into what was once a dull life-stage for women their age.