“Be the best you can be. That does not mean Botox and plastic surgery. Bah!”
~ Sue Kreitzman, age 73
The two sisters in my mother-in-law’s assisted living home have their hair done, their lipstick on. I wondered why they wore makeup to just dinner with the other residents. I wondered why they wore makeup to just dinner with the other residents. Over the days we visited, my eye would seek them out. They seemed more vivacious, somehow, more happier, than many of the other occupants.
Studies show that animals the groom themselves live longer, my female gynecologist tells me. I see younger women on the street with hair and makeup done.
Do we lose something in our older age?
Our culture certainly doesn’t support beauty and grooming in older age. I searched the internet under “elderly women grooming” and got search results about clipping a senior person’s toenails. That’s basic maintenance. My search of “elderly women dressing” came back with tips on how to dress up like a stereotypical elderly woman. The images even had little girls with their hair in buns pushing a walker. This is the image of an elderly woman with panache? Is this what I have to look forward to?
I did find an article online by the British paper Telegraph, which profiled six fabulous women aged 73 and older. They were fabulous because they all had a distinct style, forgoing traditional granny clothes images.
Yes, some of them made really bold fashion choices, ones that I would have to work up my courage to wear. But one woman, Lady Trumpington, at age 91, wore traditional clothes that conservative younger women would wear. Leather coat, anyone?
Looking good doesn’t need to break the bank
Cost for wearing bold clothes wasn’t a factor, even. Bridget Sojourner, 75, got all her clothes from thrift shops as she survives on a minimal budget. Her most expensive recent purchase for about $6.00 was a pair of Doc Marten boots.
All these women had picture-perfect makeup. But I suspect that they look good every day of the week. Sue Kreitzman says about getting older, “You will get stronger, smarter, have lots of fun, and you will become amazingly influential and beautiful – inner and outer beauty.” So much for my notions of getting older.
You still have to fight some expectations by the rest of society. Lady Trumpington is the oldest woman in the House of Lords and has fame on YouTube. When a colleague was speaking to the House about World War II veterans getting older and pointed to Lady Trumpington, she calmly gave him the British form of the middle finger.
I say her attitude it correct.
Image: The Heart Truth (Carmen Dell’Orefice, Red Dress Collection 2005) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons