…so says the actress Isabella Rossellini in response to a new book. ’50 is the New Fifty’ by the journalist Suzanne Braun Levine. ‘To listen to the society we live in’, says Levine, ‘you would think that you have to stay young – and look young – to be happy. And we literally buy into that message, spending millions on age-defying cosmetics, surgery, drugs…We live in a society that is very ageist. ..Now we are creating a whole new age for women that really defies the stereotype that as women get older they should be invisible, they should sit by the phone and wait for an opportunity to baby-sit for their grandchildren…If each of us stops trying to hide chronological years, we will liberate the future for all of us’.
Clearly written for the American market with its emphasis on assertive life skills and its direct appeal for older women to stand up and make something positive out of the inevitability of ageing, this book is apparently a sequel to Levine’s earlier book ‘Inventing the Rest of our Lives’.
The publisher’s blurb on the new book claims that it is ‘rich with anecdotes from the front lines of self-reinvention, that it captures the voices of women who are confronting change, renegotiating their relationships, and discovering who they are now that they are finally grown up. Among the lessons are: “No” is not a four-letter Word, on the energizing power of standing up for what you mean and what you want; Do unto yourself as you have been doing unto others, a new way of getting yourself to the top of the to-do list; changing your outlook doesn’t have to mean walking away from your marriage’.
I was a bit reassured by that last throw-away line, but am glad to add to these blogs a specific female slant on anti-ageism, which balances my male perspective a little. Women always, still, have to fight harder for basic rights than men.
Not pretending to be young when you are not, is one of them. ( And where does the pressure for that come from? – from men, I suppose.) Mary Eileen Williams has a complementary website on this same subject that looks interesting, feistysideoffifty.
Let Levine have the last word. She claims that women are finding that their 50’s and their 60’s and even their 70’s are a very exciting and authentic time’. ( EVEN their 70’s!!). May it be so.