New pretty reading glasses perched on my nose, very very healthy smoothie in my hand (delicious even if devoid of any sugar or dairy) and wishing I was clutching a cup of strong coffee, I open my trusted morning friend, the New York Times Thursday edition, Style section – yes, I like to start my day with the hard news. Between an article on what yoga bag to buy and photos of military gay men, my still sleepy eyes are attracted to a piece on helping women age. In rapid succession I am informed that the plea of growing old gracefully is not mine alone, I am in this boat with millions of women who, apparently, can be driven to the brink of depression, alcoholism and even suicide. Really? I am also informed there are books out there geared to help us. Really?
What the article doesn’t say is that I am now part of a demographic that is being tapped into: Botox and plastic surgery and all kinds of cosmetic enhancements for those who can afford it and who just can’t give up and self-help books for everybody else. Alongside Nancy Myers movies to make sure we still believe in love at first sight in our 70’s and J Crew catalogues to keep us on the path of the appropriately dressed.
I am now annoyed. Granted, we might be the first generation who has to confront and compare ourselves to models of apparent perfection well into old age – our mothers might have not been happy to grow old but they all shared lined faces, expanding waistlines and varicose veins and accepted them as a fact of life. We, on the other hand, have choices and I so wish we were left alone to make these choices. I have been part of some demographic or other all my life, since I acquired pocket-money to spend on records and comics. I graduated to fashion, cosmetics, travel, house and everything else family related. Movies, books, advertising campaigns, tv programmes, magazines have been created around what I could possibly want or want to buy. Now I just want to be left alone to decide whether to erase the lines on my forehead or wear Diane Keaton’s hats – most of all, I would like not to be told, for once, how my 50’s and 60’s are supposed to shape up. I am well on the way to losing my looks, my reproductive ability, possibly my sex drive, my natural hair colour (even down there for god’s sake!), can I please have some untapped sense of adventure left? I want to be left to my own devices to figure out how to navigate this next segment of my blessed life without the New York Times or anyone else telling me I should buy some book because I might find myself staring at depression or an overdose of pills some time soon.
Whether I decide to try lipo or mummify my expression or just letting it all go south, I would like it to be driven by my own sense of exploration and endless conversations with my girlfriends. You marketers out there, just back off, will you?