real life

You don't have to be middle aged. You can be a Perennial instead.

Who wants to go gently into “that good night”?

“Not I” said the middle-aged woman wearing white trainers, ripped jeans, teaching pilates and sharing her 20-year-old daughter’s wardrobe.

In an era where ageing comes only second to death on the fear scale, nudging into the middle-aged life bracket has never been less attractive. And what is that age bracket you ask? The middle-aged years have been defined as between 45-64.

I’ll just give a lot of people a minute. Yes, check that fact on on your iPhone that’s set to larger text.

It is right. 45-64. 45? Surely that’s not middle-aged?

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Being middle-aged is great because you’re not dead, but to the world at large it also means you’ve reached the summit of life and you’ve now started to slide down the other side. And that slide involves invisibility to everyone younger than you, a supposed cluelessness about technology, pop-culture, fashion, passion in general (except gardening and Sudoku), strange body aches and discolourations and exorbitant dental bills.

The thing is most middle-aged people I know don’t come across as middle-aged at all.

The good news is there is an alternative to middle-age that isn’t death.  The Telegraph UK reported there is a new ageless generation of women in their 40s and their 50s. These women are Perennials. Being a Perennial is not like getting a Flybuys card – not everyone qualifies.

Gillian Flynn, Tilda Swinton, Jenna Lyons are all Perennials.

Perennials are "ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages," according to US tech entrepreneur Gina Pell.

We are familiar with celebrities who defy ageing. In April, Julia Roberts was named People magazine's most beautiful woman for a record breaking 5th time. She's 49. Then there is Nicole Kidman who turned 50 in June. Steve Carell who is 55 in August and his new mop of grey hair and sensible navy knit have turned him into a "silver fox sex symbol".

Perennial Michelle Obama (image Getty)

The examples of middle-aged people who don't look middle-aged are in front of us, but Perennials aren't just about looks. Belonging to this group, Pell says, is about the way you think, staying curious, creative, passionate and not balking from taking risks, even when the world tells you to play at safe.

There have always been people who defy the constructs and expectations of their age and generation but this group of age radicals seems to be growing in membership - from suburbia to the Hollywood Hills.

Perennials watch Orange is the New Black and Glow with their kids not Inspector Morse. They take gap years - or maybe just gap long service leave and head off for three months of overseas adventure. They attend marches for the the causes they believe in. They still go to fun cocktail bars with friends (every now and then). They might study a new language or do a photography course. They feel young.

There are stylish perennials such as Nick Wooster and Jenna Lyons. Then there's the literary, think JK Rowling and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Michelle Obama is a policy Perennial. There's Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Emma Thompson and Tilda Swinton.

Middle aged or Perennial? Age shall not weary your choice but your mind might.

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