AS YOUNG AS YOU FEEL
Perhaps aging is an inside job. So get older with attitude
Recently an older woman told me she was afraid to let go of her health insurance in case she needed it when
“everything fell apart”. Another confided she was super-conscious of being old enough to be someone’s mother at a recent music festival.
Yes, the cage of age is in full force here, despite our alternative culture. Perhaps it’s all the nubile young things, on bikes or in bikinis, that makes us more conscious of the decades.
Age conditioning starts at birth but, once you hit 50, it goes into overdrive, with advertisements for over-55s retirement homes, cheaper insurance for over-50s and even tour groups where you can hang out with the “middle aged”.
At the same time, government advertising promotes screening of all those bits that are now, suddenly, a risk, while the pharmaceutical industry backs up age paranoia with prescription drugs.
If you had any doubt about the fact that you are a fossil, you just need to switch on the TV.
But isn’t it time we rejected the misogynistic idea that women of a certain age are no longer sensual, vital members of society?
After all, if you’re Mick Jagger or Harrison Ford, you’re still considered a sex symbol and able to command big money.
Don’t dress “appropriately”. Wear what you want, even if that’s a bikini. Don’t cut your hair into a sensible bob. Buy a motorbike. Ride a bike. Eat ice-cream from the cone while it drips down to your elbow. Play your music loud. Pursue your dream career.
Wage a personal rebellion against ageism and, remember, aging is a mind job. If you think young, and act young, getting older will be inevitable but aging will be a choice.
When Ellen Langer, the longest-serving professor of psychology at Harvard, put eight men in their 70s into a time warp apartment that transported them back physically and psychologically to when they were in their 20s, she was betting that living as if they were in their prime would turn back the clock. At the end of the experiment, it had.
Scientific tests showed the men were suppler, had greater manual dexterity, sat taller and, most improbably, their eyesight had improved.
Helen Hawkes and Shirley Hughes run Life Makeovers, a psychotherapy and coaching service that helps women of all ages unleash their potential for happiness. Tel: 0403 805 001.