Acting your age

I’m struggling to help my daughter, who has asked to borrow some clothes so she can dress up “like a 45-year old” for a play she’s doing.  Unfortunately for her I have no idea what “45-year olds” look like .  Personally  I live my non-working life in jeans.  Rebecca is still only 12 but is already as tall as me and has the same size feet.  She borrows my clothes pretty regularly – not the formal stuff, but certainly the  black V-necks and  the ankle boots;  I’ll have to wrestle my trenchcoat off her back if I ever want to wear it again.  So I should just have  drawled “honey – this is what 45 looks like” and told her to go dressed as she was, just adding a  harassed expression and perhaps some crow’s feet.

But that’s obviously not what they want.  I suspect they’re after the look that middle-aged women had when I was little.  In my memory* women then had hair that was styled and set once a week and wore headscarves to protect it in high winds.  They had sensible clothes in muted colours; perhaps a jaunty scarf at the neck.  They wore flat shoes and 40 denier American Tan tights.  Slacks were acceptable but not jeans.   They did NOT have tattoos.  When they got a bit older they wore fur-lined bootees in winter and hats like mushrooms with stalks coming out of the top, and generally looked like the three Great Aunts from Glossop in I Didn’t Know You Cared.

There are no women like that around any more, and I for one miss them.  I envy their domestic competence and their unshakeable self-confidence.  Which is not to say that I want to be like them.  Possibly it’s  the dread of damart that makes women of my generation fear getting old so much (and may explain their sales slogan – Think you know damart? Think again!)  When you pass 40, you are super-sensitive to how very OLD it sounds.   I shuddered when I read a newspaper article the other day about a “sprightly 50-year old”  Sprightly?  Isn’t that how you describe octagenarian ballroom dancers who like the occasional Scotch?

Ageing is unavoidable of course, but I’m still waiting for the level of  grown-upness  in my head to match the number on my birth certificate. And, on a more serious level, I am reminded every day in dozens of little ways – this is only one example – that in the eyes of many people I’m very nearly past it.

*It was surprisingly hard to find images to illustrate this.  There are some very odd things lurking under a search for images of older women, but nothing much that gives you pictures of “ordinary” middle-aged women from the past.  Perhaps they were invisible?

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4 responses to “Acting your age

  1. How can you tell a 45 year old in the street if they don’t have any distinguishing features? You should be able to recognise them so teenagers have something to point at when ugly animals and people falling over eventually bore them.
    I think 45 year olds should wear luminous tracksuit bottoms and several eccentric, brightly clashing scarves all at once!

  2. Luminous tracksuit bottoms … several eccentric, brightly clashing scarves at once … Looking at Rebecca’s grandmother, I’d say that sounds more like what 70 year olds wear.

    The distiguishing mark of the late 40-something is the harassed expression and multiplying wrinkles. As Carter Brandon put it so eloquently, “Big or small, fat or tall, life makes your shoulders droop.”

  3. Pingback: bloggers’ tour: why do I write? | graceful business: laurel consulting

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