I recently went to the eye doctor for my yearly appointment. I knew I would be needing a new prescription. It seems like each year my lenses get a little thicker. Pretty soon I’ll just be strapping a pair of binoculars to my face.
I started wearing glasses when I was just eighteen months old. My parents tell me it was pretty obvious I needed some sort of vision correction. My left eye was so “lazy” that the iris would disappear into the cavity next to my nose, leaving nothing showing but the white. The doctor patched my right eye in an attempt to make my left eye stronger. This went on for years and I can still remember the smell of those bandage-colored eye patches that stuck to my skin and pulled out my eyebrows. The patch, it seems wasn’t enough humiliation. I also had to wear glasses ON TOP of the eye patch. My mom always said if I had to wear glasses, the least she could do was to let me pick out my own frames. It was the sixties – the era of the cat eye frames and that is exactly the style I picked out; powder blue cat eye frames the same shape as the ones my grandma wore!
I mention this because I recently picked out new frames. For years I’ve worn contact lenses, switching them out for a sensible pair of glasses when my eyes got tired. I chose basic frames that would stand the test of time; nothing flashy, nothing sparkly, nothing fabulous.
This year however, I had a different experience at my annual eye appointment. I was told I was “no longer a candidate for contact lenses”. My astigmatism had gotten so bad that contact lenses were no longer a viable option for me. Sadly, I picked out a new pair of frames. They were cute. They were sensible. They were durable. They were boring. I wore them for two months before going back to the clinic with my daughter for her exam. While I was waiting I perused the racks of frames. There were lots of wonderfully dull choices! Aviators, brow-line, minimalist, and square frames as far as the eye could see; which in my case, wasn’t very far!
As I looked around I caught a glimpse of something shiny! I walked over to take a closer look and there they were! The glasses of my dreams! The rims were slightly cat eye shaped and covered in a gold glitter! The side arms were brown leopard! Kate Spade eyewear WHERE have you been all my life! These glasses were every bit as fabulous as the blue pair I had when I was just a child! I HAD to have them! I tried them on over and over but kept putting them back on their rack. It didn’t make any sense to buy them. I had picked out new glasses just two months before. My insurance wouldn’t cover a second pair. They were very expensive, and my lenses weren’t exactly cheap either. I didn’t need them. As fabulous as they were, they were a “want” and not a “need” …or were they? After all, I was “no longer a candidate for contact lenses”. I would no longer be purchasing contacts. I would actually be saving money in the long run. Besides, if I couldn’t wear contacts, didn’t I deserve a pair of fabulously chic, impractical, over-priced glasses? The answer to that question clearly; yes! You know what I did, I bought the glasses and I didn’t regret it! I still wear my practical pair when I’m working on the computer or running errands, but when I want to feel extra sassy and fab, I don those sparkly Kate Spade beauties with pride! I gave my self permission to rock those glasses that some would find outlandish or too “young” for me.
That brings me to my thoughts on aging. When I first had the idea to do a blog post on getting older, I thought I’d include links to skincare products, hairstyles, clothing websites, and recipes. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write a post encouraging women to embrace their authentic selves. We’ve tried every product with claims and promises too ridiculous to be true. We’ve all been in search of the fountain of youth at one time or another. Don’t get me wrong; if there is a product that will diminish these laugh lines and crow’s feet, I will buy it! I don’t let my gray hair show and I rarely go as far as the mailbox without a generous coat of mascara. However, it’s taken me a long time to embrace the uniqueness that is ME. I reached my peak height of five foot zero inches in my twenties and now I’m headed in the opposite direction. I always envied the taller girls; the girls who were referred to as “hot” or “statuesque” or “model-like”. I was “cute”, “sassy”, “pixie-like”. It always sounded like a description for a chihuahua.
In elementary school the spring production required someone to play Tinkerbell. I was the obvious choice. In high school the homecoming committee needed “small students” to be frogs on our Muppet themed float. I politely declined. I’m a fifty-something woman who has been known to search the aisles in the grocery store to find someone tall enough to reach products from the top shelf. In a pinch, I’ve been known to stand precariously on the bottom shelf, balancing like Mary Lou Retton on the balance beam, in an attempt to reach a jar of salsa…ok it was wine, but you get the idea.
The point is, we are all beautifully different. My eye glasses shopping experience got me thinking. Maybe, just maybe if we all embrace our unique badassary and love ourselves for who we are, right where we are, we would judge less and accept more. I’ll never be “statuesque”, but I fit very nicely behind the wheel of my Mini Cooper convertible! It’s all a matter of perspective.
Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been – David Bowie
I know you’ve read those articles about what “women of a certain age” should and shouldn’t wear or how ladies should act. There is a group of “experts” commonly known as “they” who make these rules. “They” decide what is and is not appropriate for women whether it be apparel, hair style, or behavior. These experts in the field of fashion will tell you that no woman over thirty should ever wear yoga pants; not even to yoga class! I recently read an article that ran in the New York times that cautioned women about the dangers of donning skintight work out pants as they “threaten to show every dimple and roll in every woman over 30.” Well you know what? I call bullshit! Wear what you want! And while you’re at it, if you’re not hurting yourself or others, act the way you want to act! You’re fifty and want to wear a mini skirt but some blogger told you women over thirty should never wear short skirts? Wear the damn mini skirt! Wear it proudly! You hear a great song come on and you feel like dancing in public? Do it! People might stare. Who cares? Let them stare! A friend once told me, don’t dance like no one is watching. Dance like EVERYONE is watching and maybe they’ll be brave enough to join you! So, dance! Dance your ass off! It’s FUN! Do it before it’s too late! No one ever died saying “I sure do wish I would have danced less and dressed more appropriately for my age”.
My new motto is YOU DO YOU. We are all uniquely beautiful. There are some trends that aren’t right for me, but you might rock it. Go ahead and rock it! I am fifty-three and have a collection of rock band tee shirts. I love them! I wear them often! I pair them with a nose ring, ripped jeans and sneakers, and if I’m feeling really defiant, a biker jacket and my cat eye glasses. I’m sure this very outfit is on some “what not to wear” list but I don’t care. I’m a goddamned goddess and so are you. Wear what you want! YOU DO YOU and allow others to do the same. If you see a sixty-year-old woman with hot pink hair and it’s not your style, that’s okay. Compliment her on her fabulous look and move on. Don’t judge. Embrace the fact that we are all different and that it’s a pretty cool thing! What a boring life it would be if we were all the same.
Designer Betsey Johnson is my spirit animal. She’s a tiny firecracker of whimsical wonder! She is seventy-four years old, dresses like Barbie’s cooler, edgier older sister and still finishes her fashion shows with a cartwheel into the splits! She is likely the poster girl for the “what not to wear over age thirty” set and she seems to not give a flying fig what “they” think. She’s an unapologetic fashion rebel and I wish to be her when I grow up!
There are literally thousands of examples of women over 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and so on living life to it’s fullest and making no apologies. Some wear makeup, some go bare skinned. Some dye their hair, some rock the gray. Some wear blue jeans, others are comfortable in slacks. There are no rules! Living your truth is up to you! Be authentic and allow others to do the same, free of judgement. Be a badass. Be a goddess. BeYOUtiful!
I follow several examples of strong, take-no-crap, live your authentic life women on Instagram. If you would like some inspiration, check out these badass women:
https://www.accidentalicon.com/ Lyn Slater, sixty-four-year-old badass fashion blogger who accidently found fame on the streets of New York. Instagram @iconaccidental
Instagram @Over50_style a “middle-aged woman from planet earth with a desire to promote a style for over50 women.”
Instagram @ageingdisgracefully “Turning 50 does not define me.”
World’s oldest professional model Daphne Selfe, modeling since 1949. Instagram @daphneselfe
Ellen DeGeneres, comedian, philanthropist, animal rights activist, and all around badass. Instagram @theellenshow ellendegenereswildlifefund.org
You want to see a real badass? Check out ninety-six years young, Betty White! Instagram @bettymwhite