HAS BEING AN ONLINE CREATIVE HELPED ME EMBRACE MY AGE?
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I guess I should start by saying I’ve never really been negative about my age - it’s possibly a trait that goes alongside my annoyingly optimistic nature. To me, age is just a number I go by on my birth certificate and so far, all the big milestone birthdays have been heartily embraced... and celebrated within an inch of what’s considered socially acceptable. Fifty will be no different.
I rarely act my age, whatever that means. I still feel like I have a ton of growing up and growing into who I am to get through and I constantly have to remind myself that I'm a mother to a teen daughter. WTAF! So, does all that add up to make me age neutral? Maybe.
Rewind to a time before the infinite hours I now spend immersed in the online world of blogging and social media and I guess I absorbed the standard anti-aging mindset by osmosis. I’m grateful to be ageing in a time when we’re slowly becoming anti anti-ageing. Although you might be forgiven for thinking that progress is slow if you stood in the supermarket queue and happened to glance over at most of the newspaper headlines on any weekend morning. If I had a pound for every time I've told H to "Ignore that shizzle", I'd be as wealthy as the owners of said newspapers.
Years spent consuming messages from mainstream media will have you thinking that ageing is a process we should all fight off as long as possible. Buy this cream to prevent wrinkles, colour your hair with that to cover those greys, check yourself to make sure you can still wear X at age Y... and on and on it went. And as always, most of it seemed to be directly aimed at the female contingent of the population.
But back to the more preferable present and I find my age positive klaxon regularly triggered by things that I stumble across online – yet one more unexpected benefit of the voices given a loudhailer by blogs and social media. Finding yourself awakened to something you didn't know you needed (until you did), has a curious way of making you hungry for more of the same.
In a time when we regularly see social media promoting perfectionism and imprinting the "youth equals beauty" mantra deep into our core beings, I'd like to stop for a minute and examine the ways in which it’s made me embrace my age with open arms. Arms that in summer might even be seen to sport a garment of the sleeveless variety I would add.
The nature of the platforms that I choose to frequent and the people I connect with on them, enables me to reach inquiring feelers out in any direction I like. Here is where I have access to messages that negate Age The Number and instead, embrace Age The Attitude. I regularly sniff out a satisfyingly good hashtag rabbit hole down which I’ll drop and roll, only to emerge hours later feeling invigorated and inspired. Blogs, Instagram and Pinterest are my goto haunts when I want to be exposed to all kinds of opinions on age positivity. It seems I've been slowly absorbing them all via an online drip feed, letting them bust open myths, break rules and kick down barriers. And it rocks.
Age positivity steers me in a reverse direction as well as forwards. I find myself continually inspired by women of all ages; some many years younger as well as older. Would I have come across them if I wasn't doing what I do for a living? Most likely not. These women start and run amazing businesses, both big and small and they use their influence for all kinds of good. How old they are doesn't ever come into it. If they inspire me, I'll stalk them for their creativity, brilliance and innovation, not for the number on their birth certificate.
When I blogged at Online Stylist, I always thought that my audience was predominantly forty plus because some ten years prior to that, I happened to set out my virtual stall in the "older style blogger" marketplace. Google Analytics (when I could be bothered to look), told me a different story. Month on month, the age demographics showed the core audience to be in the twenty-five to forty-four bracket with pretty much the rest falling into forty-five plus. Perhaps now, I’ve narrowed my niche here at simply START living. Maybe by not trying to appeal to the masses and instead writing more on the subject matter relevant to my own life stage, that age demographic will narrow. Either way I don’t mind - I prefer to live by my words and not stats.
When it comes to style, I've never been one to adhere to the archaic "dressing for your age" rule. I prefer instead to focus on what I love, what feels good on and what might marry the unexpected or showcase a subtle detail. When it came to a blogging niche, a long time ago I decided that I no longer want to be pigeonholed into the forty plus style genre. I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's just an aversion to labels and that midlife rebellion thing again. Or the simple fact of not wanting to attach a number to style.
And can we also explore the more recent phenomenon of embracing grey hair? Now this I bloody love! Over the last ten years of people watching, I've observed many women with stunning grey hair that seems to just add a certain something extra to their overall look. Countless times I would nudge Patrick and say “Look at her! I want to be her when I grow up."
Why? Because to me, the woman who embraces that grey as part of who she is and allows it to compliment her overall look is nothing short of a style genius in my book. The fact that she's sticking two fingers up to what we've been conditioned to do over many years also appeals to my inner mid-life rebel. I also envy her lack of days spent waking up, post hairdresser visits with an irritated, itchy scalp. During my root colour phase, which was when these photos were taken, there were times you'd find me scratching my head like a woman possessed. Not such a good look… unless head lice suddenly become the accessory du jour.
My friend Lou wrote wisely on the subject of embracing grey here... she writes wisely on everything come to think of it. And we've since conversed back and forth numerous times, providing each other with hair updates, sometimes visual, agreeing that it's a personal choice and definitely not for everyone. If you want to carry on colouring out the greys then I salute you. We should never feel encumbered by the decisions and choices of others... even if (and especially if), they have their own Instagram hashtag. Eight months ago I began my own growing into the grey journey and as it progresses, I’ve realised my silvery greys aren’t coming through fast enough for my liking! But that’s what ash blonde highlights and bottles of purple shampoo are for right?
If I try to put a common underlying theme to all this new found gumption I'm feeling, I think it comes down to not really not giving a shit about what people might think. Something I spent far too many years doing. I find myself drawn to the exact opposite of the things we're "supposed" to do at certain ages? Midlife crisis or midlife rebellion? I'm not over-analysing it.
Does this attitude only come with age or can it blossom early on by having the foresight to focus on developing a strong sense of self? Here's Lou again on the millennials that possess that increased self-awareness, thereby answering that one perfectly. I told you she was wise.
Perhaps it can be both. But for me, a stronger sense of self definitely comes with age. My slow burgeoning self-belief is all self-taught. I alone have nurtured my latter years nature and I much prefer how I feel now to how I did in my late twenties/early thirties. So yes… I’m one hundred percent sure that being an online creative has helped me embrace my age.
Here’s A Few Women Who Inspire Me With An Embrace Your Age Attitude…
Alyson Walsh - That's Not My Age
Meryl Streep. No links needed - just watch her movies.
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