There is no denying that our modern society seems to be increasingly concerned with age. We have become a society obsessed with lotions, potions, operations, and all manner of devices that can help stop, hide or defy the aging process in some way. Why? What is it about age that we are afraid of?
Now in my 48th year I’m yet to have an age crisis. Half my life ago I counseled many friends through their 21st ‘coming of age’. My female friends went into melt down concerned about perky breasts and finding a ‘soul mate’, while my male mates pondered the size of their ‘member’ and whether they would continue to get laid. Not much changed as age sped along to our thirties however by then the women were increasingly worried about their ‘ticking clock’ of fertility while the men, well they were still focused on sex, but many had tossed aside their wild oats for a partner because, well there are various reasonings to that! Now into our 40s, most have settled into a routine but this hasn’t stopped the women from obsessing over their boobs, bums and Botox or the men their virility, vanity and Viagra. Why does age make us lose our sanity?
“Women are not forgiven for aging. Robert Redford’s lines of distinction are my old-age wrinkles.” (Jane Fonda)
Our society is also ageist when it comes to occupations. We are increasingly told about women who have been shelved, retired, dismissed because of their age. This is seen most evidently in the fickle world of TV broadcasting where the list of female broadcasters, replaced for fresh, bright, perky young babes, is ever increasing. Tracy Grimshaw must be doing something right as many before her have bitten the age bullet, or should I say, had it firmly fired in their back! There are other female exceptions such as ‘model’ entertainment reporter Lauren Hutton, whose genes have undoubtedly gone a long way to extending her shelf life. Whereas male broadcasters are able to linger on, well past their visual used by date, often being deemed ‘stately’, ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘wise’.
The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another. (Quentin Crisp)
It is not all bad, the ‘Grumpy old men and women series’, showed us how to age disgracefully and not give a damn. Its appeal to me certainly stemmed from their ability to laugh at themselves, see their faults and embrace them. They saw age as a ‘badge of honour’ that allowed them to criticise, rebuke and refute, maintain the rebellion of youth, standing up to anyone and anything that wanted to have a go at them. They were role models reminding us not to take life or age too seriously.
“I’ve often thought that the process of aging could be slowed down if it had to go through Congress.” (GW Bush)
Personally, it is the 1950s style fridge magnet, given to me by my sister, that I read everyday: “I can’t believe I forgot to have children”, that is a constant reminder of my life and my age. I’m 48, many relationships and occupations under my belt, and no kids, yet still I’ve managed to take a nonchalant attitude. (Thankfully I’m now in a beautifully stable relationship – well as good as any can be! ;)) I haven’t had time to stop and dwell (for too long anyway), time has flown by and I’m hoping that over the next decade, whatever my life serves up, with the race against the age clock speeding along with me, I remain free of regrets or an age panic. But, hey, there’s still time 😉