Ageing for me, has been something I’ve been told to do, rather than something that’s happened.
Not in the physical sense of course. My reflection reveals little lines and creases where there once were none, and a once-pierced navel that looks more like a sad face than an oval these days — thanks to years of childbearing. Personalities evolve too, but that’s living, I think, more than it is ageing. We grow, we mature, and so do our values, our beliefs, our style, our interests.
But ageing, in the sense of it being the basis for our identity, of being the definition of who we are as people — or who we should be; this is the view of ageing that is thrust upon us. That you must dress, wear your hair, play music, make jokes, in line with your age - this is taught to us. The world tells us we’re supposed to feel invisible after 40 (or 50, depending on who's talking). But would we feel that way, if we weren't told we should? Has the narrative become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
In the same way the child who’s constantly told he's naughty, continues to live up to his bad reputation, we, as women are often told to pipe down, dull down. We’re told no one cares anymore. We're invisible now. So, we do pipe down; we dull down. Until we are invisible. Until no one cares.
I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful role model in my mum, who has never let age define her. She happens to be a style queen and if I ever hesitate to wear something or do something or say something because of my age, she promptly chastises me (of course I’m not talking about irresponsible or dangerously youthful behaviour here).