Today’s Soap Box — Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thoughts on the Older Woman
I feel women over a certain age are marginalized in this society. It seems once you reach 40 then 50+ women especially Black Women are expected to fit into preconceived categories regarding looks, behavior and expectations. The women on my job in particular the younger women in their 20s and 30s and some of the Europeans seem to be shocked that at 51 I still have dreams, goals, aspirations and desires akin to theirs. Of course the white women are always asking me what I do to my face that I have no wrinkles and lines. My answer, “Good Black Don’t Crack!” I’ll never need Botox, Restylane®, collagen or a facelift.
I think young people either expect you to be dried up and half dead or a throwback to the 60s, hence my nickname by one young white girl, “Soul Patrol”. Other than the physical ailments that naturally come with middle age my mind is still has the focus of a 25 -35 yr old but with the wisdom that comes with getting older. The young folks don’t realize it but I have the advantage over them. I’ve already made all the stupid mistakes, so now my goals are clear I just have to find ways of making my dreams come true. Not that I won’t have a few detours, in my case romantic detours but my eyes are on the prize because I no longer worry about whether I’ll marry or have children. Yes I desire a life partner/soul mate but I’m ambivalent about marriage and long past childbearing ability. Right now I enjoy dating and even as the birthdays keep coming I’ve never had too many problems attracting a man. Most intelligent mature men want a woman who is in good shape, has a sense of humor and is his intellectual equal, not a bubblehead.
Another attitude towards 40+ women I find very disturbing is what men in my age group think about in regards to dating. I had a conversation with one of my supervisors who claims he is 55. He’s depressed because women in their 20s and 30s no longer look at him as they did when he was younger. His reasons for wanting very young women are they everything on them is firmer and in good shape and he feels older men make better lovers. I pointed out to him that many women in their 20s and 30s are in terrible shape thanks to the fast food industry and a serious lack of exercise and also that for some men by the time they reach their 50s they need Viagra. He claims he does not need this. Also he’s flabby himself and could stand to lose weight and firm up! What a hypocrite! However this particular supervisor is known to be a horn dog and word in the Ladies locker room is that he can get it up but can’t make it last. Also it never seems to occur to these 50+ men that younger women only date them for money, power, authority, position or status and when they find those qualities in a man closer to their own age they will leave that old bastard! After all most young women want a contemporary so they can marry and have children. If you marry someone twenty years older than you, they will either croak in a few years or you’ll be their nurse as well as their wife. Realistically you need someone you can build a life with, not someone who is old enough to be your Father!
No I’m not a proponent of this new age philosophy that 40 is the new 30 or 50 is the new 40. Fifty is 50 and forty is 40. There are some days when I get out of bed I feel like I’m 25 and other days like 95. However because I never smoked, did drugs, only drank socially and adjusted my diet as I got older I’m proud to say that my exterior looks pretty darned good! Personally I see myself staying in this condition for another twenty years God willing.
My Aunt Helen who recently transitioned at age 89 used to say to me when she turned 80, DeBorah what is 80? What does that number mean? Does it mean that you should stop doing some of the same things you did at 40? Go sit in a rocking chair and go live in a retirement community? Her answer was always No. Aunt Helen loved to tell jokes, attend family parties and church functions, sing, dance, and enjoy life until she became ill. Now she is singing, dancing and playing her violin in Heaven keeping the Angels and my other family members on their toes!
I want to be like Aunt Helen with that spirit and zest for life. I believe that in many ways I am like her only my drumbeat and pathway are slightly different. Ladies, age ain’t nothing but a number.