Growing Old Gracefully

Two bloggers recently talked about being in middle age and the fear of growing old.  49 And Counting talked about having chest wrinkles.  Don’t laugh, younger women!  You too will someday face this neckline bane.  And Witty Biz Gal talked about older women seeking younger men in the cougar trend.

Our fear of “looking old” is exploited by the beauty and garment industries.  As they see Baby Boomers face middle age, they gleefully rub their hands together in anticipation of the profits.  Manufacturers put anti-aging formulations in everything from our hair shampoo to our foot scrubs.  Fashion designers look backward to the fashions of our younger years, suggesting we should still wear mini skirts and platform shoes like we did 30 years ago.

Whatever happened to growing old gracefully?

We could fight our age tooth and nail, like the provocatively cougarescent Demi Moore.  Or like Elizabeth Taylor.  Demi should take notice: in her latter years, Liz looked anything but graceful.  Slathering on more makeup and wearing plunging necklines didn’t make her look younger, or even attractive.  It made her look like she was in denial.  It was rather sad, actually.

But then there is prolific actress Angela Lansbury.  Aside from the fact that I absolutely love Murder She Wrote, it being my favorite tv show of all time –  it was also one of the longest-running tv shows of all time, continuing uninterrupted an amazing 12 years.  Lansbury was 60 years old when the show began, and it became a family business as her husband, brother, and two sons became involved in the production.

The makeup and wardrobe chosen for her role in it were not only attractive, but age-appropriate.   She wore beautiful suits, silk scarves, and a set of gold trademark earrings that can be seen in many episodes.  There was a sense of presence with her in that role, and clearly showed she was comfortable with who she was.  There was a gracefulness to her that will always mark my memory.

Lansbury is 85 years old, and still working.  Her most recent movie role was in the 2011 Mr. Popper’s Pengiuns, playing opposite Jim Carrey.  Even if she does sport chest wrinkles, (leathery tan or otherwise), she’s still careful to dress in clothes that are elegantly unpretentious and that flatter her form.  She has presence about her that lights up her face when she smiles, in spite of the creases.

She has an ageless attitude of enthusiasm for life, which gives grace to the aging form her spirit lives in.

And that’s what I want to be when I grow up.



9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wittybizgal
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 13:33:55

    Great observations! And thanks for the mention too… 😉 Murder She Wrote was one of my all time favorites as well–I’m planning to watch them all again on Netflix soon. On aging gracefully, I don’t think the phrase means the same thing that it used to. Years ago, aging gracefully meant giving up. You had to have the regulation short haircut, with wash and set once a week, wear dowdy house dresses, little makeup, and more or less give up on yourself. Aging gracefully to my generation has evolved, and I’m thankful for that. My take on aging gracefully is embracing every new phase of my life, learning new things, never giving up on my dreams, and, yes, looking my best. What is so sad to me these days, however, are the women who are longing so much for their 20’s that they try to fit themselves into a box in which they no longer fit…too many plastic surgeries, lying about their age, dressing age inappropriately, and in general looking desperate to be younger than they are. Nothing ages a woman faster, in my opinion. People used to see only two options–giving up or being desperate for the perception of youth. There are so many wonderful places in between–I want all women to see that!


    • Charlene
      Sep 30, 2011 @ 14:13:00

      Hello, you! 🙂 You’re quite welcome for the mention – and doubly so, now knowing your a co-lover of Murder She Wrote. That’s where I watch them – thank God for Netflix!

      That’s an interesting point about the interpretation of growing old gracefully. I hadn’t realized there used to be a sense of surrender in the phase. I’m with you, passionate about wanting all women to see that they don’t need to give in to fear of getting older. If they will take the time to learn what it means to have a good body-image and confidence in themselves, it will make their middle age (not to mention senior years) soooo much easier and fulfilling.


  2. Taylor Moseley
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 13:35:50

    I think the key to growing old “gracefully” is just being happy with yourself and healthy -body, mind, and soul. I think everything will work out if I focus on that. 🙂


    • Charlene
      Sep 30, 2011 @ 14:07:43

      You’re so right, Taylor. Self-concept is something I think all women struggle with. We find a flaw (or some uncouth individual actually points one out to us!) and we zero in on that flaw with laser vision. We then have to deal with our feelings about that flaw, every time we look in a mirror. That’s a crazy way to think! Instead we should be realistic about our bodies – finding both good and bad – and choosing to focus on the good. Oh gosh, I’m on my little style soapbox now. But you know what I mean, right?


  3. Kelly
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 18:59:40

    I am all for growing old gracefully. My daughter has been trying to convince me to color my hair for years – just highlights. I have highlights thank you. They are gray and I’m proud of them. This past Monday I officially became a Crone – I turned 50. And in case you don’t know, Crone means ‘wise one’. I’m not sure how wise I am but if that’s the category they want to put me in, I’ll take it. 🙂


  4. 49andcounting
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 21:31:27

    Hi Charlene, enjoyed your post. Isn’t it interesting to see how we all embrace the season of life we are in? In my mind, growing old gracefully is about attitude. As each year passes, no matter how I look, or what I wear, if I have an attitude filled with joy, thankfulness and laughter…I feel I have “gracefully” enjoyed all that I have become. And Kelly, when I found that the 50th year in the Bible is the ‘Year of Jubilee”…I thought…yippee…it’s gonna be my year!


  5. Rachel @ Grasping for Objectivity
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 21:15:28

    Great post, and great reminder. Especially as I have three days left in my 20’s. I suppose I Should get rid of the bedazzled blue jeans I just bought… 🙂


  6. Jamie Hibbs
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 00:14:37

    Rachel dont ditch those jeans just yet. If thats your style then stick with it. I am a jeans and t-shirts gal myself, and even staring 50 in the eye (in dec) I dare anyone to try and take them away! I own the odd assortment of dresses for special occassions to be sure, but jeans are my everyday wear and always will be. They stand up to any challenge and only gain more character with every mark or fray. Just like me. I own some jeans almost as old as my kids (almost) Because they are so full of memories of when and how I wore them. And yes, I can still wear them, (even if flared legs and pencil jeans never come back.) they still fit me. So bedazzled or just plain worn around the edges, hang on to those jeans. Because you never know whats coming around the next corner, and I’d rather face whatever it is in my jeans.


  7. yearstricken
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 11:27:19

    Very well written. After 60, mirrors are highly overrated.


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