Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Wearing purple, or what?

When is it that you cross the line from middle-age to elderly? I cannot, cannot, cannot accept that I could be described as elderly, but I do remember my horror when a doctor referred to a 37 year old patient as middle aged: I was 37 at the time. It must be getting close.

As a woman you seem to become invisible as you grow older. For the second time in two days a man assumed I was not the person in charge. The first said he had an appointment to see someone called {my name}, and to be fair, when I said that I was that person, he hardly missed a beat as he said hello. His eyebrows shot up though. The second addressed all his remarks to the young man standing behind me when explaining why all our systems were down.

How sad it is though, that anyone feels they have to have cosmetic surgery to be attractive (and/or employable). If you have a facelift, you don’t look younger, you look like someone who has had a facelift. You *can* be older and beautiful but in order to be beautiful you have to be real. Surely your face, your body tell a story, the story of your life. Your beauty should come from your personality, character and, yes, sensuality. When you’re my age you're pretty much expected to be asexual as well as invisible. Can’t people accept the idea of an older woman as a sexual being. Why ever not? They seem rather better at that in France. Article in French.

One alternative which almost has some attraction is to grow old disgracefully. The first couple of lines of the poem by Jenny Joseph quite appeal on first sight: “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go” but on reading the rest of the poem I’m not so sure. It just seems very sad. Are we all so repressed that we think these are outrageous ways of demonstrating freedom? Are there not better ways?
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens ...
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

I’m determined to steer my own route and grow old in my own fashion, and I’m lucky enough to have a man who likes me the way I am.


  1. I shall wear purple

    I have a copy of that poem and have made posters of it for both my m,other when she retired and a colleuge of mine when she turned 70 and still worked fulltime with us. both the sort of women who will run a stick along the railings

    thanx for looking at my blog :-)

  2. I never noticed your link til today. When you left a comment on my blog, I forgot Blogger alway puts the first letter in lowercase. Didn't associate a. with A. Don't know if I'm approaching old age aware? I might be considered already there.
    You have a much better outlook than I.

  3. I don't know whether I do have a good attitude to aging. Really I'd prefer not to have the problem! The thing is, and I'm quite sure it's the same with all of us, I feel the same inside as I did 20 years ago. It's other peoples' perceptions of us that are the problem. The cult of youth.

    Thanks for commenting.


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