Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Anne on Aging

I didn't have time to do pictures this morning (I'm on week 3 of my Wednesday 6am workout routine, which is awesome, but limits my time in the morning), so the picture above is from my Wonder Woman Pose Conference submission.  I didn't wear this outfit to work today, and it's cropped since the skirt looks a lot shorter than I'd like in the picture.

Cynthia from Be Fabulous Daily had an interesting post on aging today, including questions posted over at Oranges and Apples.  I've enjoyed reading Cynthia and Franca's remarks, and the discussion over at Oranges and Apples, so I thought I'd give my two cents here.

What is your relationship with age? A lot of times my age depends on where I'm at and who I'm with.  If I'm at work, I'm the youngest in my group and one of only a couple who isn't married with children and a house in the suburbs, so I feel a little young.  But among my same-aged peers, I feel pretty old.  Actually no, not old - mature.  And it's a good thing - I'm happy to have my youth, but glad I'm more grown-up, responsible and mature than I was at 22 or 23.

I've been mulling it over since reading this article about 20-somethings not growing up as soon as they used to in the NY Times last week.  The article notes the 5 milestones for being an adult - graduating college, moving out of your parents' house, starting a career, getting married, and starting a family - and states that people used to have accomplished all of this by the time they turned 30.  Now, not so much.  I'll be 30 in May.  I've done the first 3, and although I'm not married, I think my relationship comes pretty close.  We've lived together for over 2 years now, adopted a dog together (it's more responsibility and commitment than it may sound like to non-pet owners) and I've served as my boyfriend's health care proxy (decision-maker) and primary caregiver on two separate and extended occasions now.  That was, incidentally, one of the first times I truly felt like a serious adult.

As for #5 - having kids - Cynthia notes the correlation between the presence of a biological clock and feeling one's age.  Mine is definitely starting to tick because of an old goal to have kids by the time I was 30, so seeing women my age or younger having kids does get to me sometimes, and makes me feel like I'm getting too old too fast.  But for the most part, I've adjusted those expectations, so I'll be okay when I hit 30.

Do you look the age you feel? I hope that I look young, but still somewhat experienced in life.  I have freckles (my Irish suntan) helping me look young, but things like gray hair (since I was 16!  talk about looking your age!) and dark puffy circles under my eyes showing my age a little more.  The dark circles kind of bug me because they're hereditary, so I know they'll just get worse with age, and I think they're the first thing that makes me look "old" at all.

Do you dress in a particular way to make you look the age you are? Or the age you feel?  I feel like my own age most of the time, and I think the way I dress reflects that.  I dress more professionally than other women my age at work for some fear that I won't be taken as seriously if I don't, but outside of the office, I don't dress too much differently than I did in college and my early 20's - just a little more polished and cleaned up.  I often go with comfortable classics, like jeans and t-shirts or sweaters.

What do you think of people dressing younger than they are? Do you assume that they want to be younger?   I assume that they feel younger than they are, and they want to express that outwardly.  On a recent trip home, I visited with my great-aunt who is 81.  I love that she still takes the time to curl her hair and do her make-up every morning, and was wearing a pretty contemporary outfit of capris, a flattering knit top and wedge heels.  I don't think she does it to look younger or because she's deluding herself or anything like that, but it's because she feels young and is not resigning herself to wearings sweatpants or polyester ensembles, or whatever else other women her age might be wearing.

What constitutes 'mutton dressed as lamb' anyway? Is it about showing more skin or something else? I had to look this one up because I've never heard that expression before!  For me, I guess it would be wearing trends and styles that are obviously way too young for you.  So in my case, I guess it'd be if I dressed like my pre-teen and teenage cousins.  For my definition, yeah, it's definitely about showing too much skin.  When I started working at 22 and 23, I wore short skirts and low-cut tops because I just didn't know better. Now if I accidentally wear something like that (it happens to the best of us), I'm a little embarrassed and feel like I'm old enough to know better.

What are your thoughts on aging?


  1. This is an interesting topic as I really feel old sometimes. It's been four years since graduation college and I thought that by 25 I would have it all- house fabulous career ( not kids - I don't want kids) But, it hasn't turned out that way.

    But feeling old- doesn't mean that other people treat you as such, or treat you as would be appropriate for your age even. I've always looked a lot younger than I am- I think since I am short, and soft spoken I come off as younger than I am. I am the youngest in my office (egads) and often get referred to as "the kid" (so not prefessional on my co-worker's parts) And it has at times meant that I get overlooked for projects I am qualified and experienced to do - because people have thought I was too young and not'hard' enough to handle. (This was admitted to me!) So as you said - I also I try my best to dress well and appear professional at work.

    I think I do an okay job of dressing my age (26)at home and off hours sometimes I lean towards grandmotherly styles : )

    I just wish that I looked older in order that I may be taken more seriously- though I do think that is fine line as older workers are often discriminated against in the workplace.

  2. I am 30, and I am pretty comfortable with the things that I have achieved so far. I don't have kids, and sometimes I get negative comments about that, but at this point my husband and I are not planning on having children.

    I tend to think that I look my age, or a little younger. I still get carded when I go out, and I am happy about it.

    For me dressing my age means wearing clothes that I am comfortable with and that flatter my body. At 30, I don't wear a lot of the things that I wore at 21 because my tastes and figure have changed.

  3. La Fille: I had the same goals for 25! I had a huge crisis when I turned 25 and hadn't figured everything out or done all I'd hoped, but I don't think it turns out that way for many people anymore anyway.

    And you're right about age discrimination working both ways. My dad lost his job of almost 30 years because the company could pay 2-3 college grads his salary (he's since found a new job where many of his colleagues are in their 50's and 60's, but that's rare), and I know people think my late 60's administrative assistant isn't as capable as others because of her age. It seems like the perfect age around my office is 30's - late 40's, and that's where most of the people in my department are. Our administrative assistant is in her late 60's.

    Rebecca: I hear you on those types of negative comments! I do want to have kids someday, but people talking about it with me can be so rude. I also get questions like "why aren't you married yet?" or, when I was totally single, "when are you going to find yourself a boyfriend?"

    I think the key is definitely whether or not you're happy with your accomplishments, and I think it's great that you are!

  4. Anne, these are all very thoughtful responses. I am glad to hear that you no longer think 30 is the end-all-be-all. I think the cool thing about getting older is that you realize that being X age isn't really that old. And then you realize that the people around you who were so much older than you, and seemed to have it all figured out, were just the same as you. Namely, still trying to achieve things and figure things out.
    I think we can do different things if we want to look more youthful (exercise, eating healthfully, taking sleep and stress reduction seriously, which I need to do more seriously), but I agree that we should embrace our age. (Maybe that's easier to say now than it will be in a few decades. We'll see!)

  5. Rad: Nope, I got over 30 being a big deal once I was about 27 or so. I think it helps that I have accomplished a lot and experienced a lot, so even if I'm not exactly where I want to be, I don't feel like I'm missing out.

    I'm better on exercising and eating healthy, but I haven't figured out a way to get more sleep and have less stress. And I assume that in a few decades we'll be just as fabulous as we are now :)

  6. I love that cardi!

    These are really thoughtful answers to these questions. I am thirty and married but don't plan to have children. I just finished a PhD and the job market is what it is, so even though I have a faculty position this year, the future of my career is still up in the air. It can be infantilizing to be in limbo like this.

  7. Terrific photo!

    pfffff, age...I don't know how I'm suppose to feel or dress at my age (43). I'm making it up as I go along!

  8. Great pose and outfit! I love a belted cardi! On the age issue I'm only 24. I really just dress how I want, but I know the do's and don't's for certain environments.

  9. Ah, aging. My nemesis topic because my mother consistently not-so-subtly lets me know she thinks I'm aging badly. As far as I'm concerned, 30 is spring chicken territory; but I remember when it felt really, really old.

    But I agree that age informs our awareness of situation-appropriate attire. And I'm relieved to know that you also experience that "I really should have know better than to wear this" feeling. I used to have no clue about these things; now that I've got a clue or two, I still backslide.

    Also, this ensemble's totally grown-up and awesome. As is your expression in these photos.

  10. Yes, I second that you look both chic and alluring. Your fella is a lucky man.

  11. I'm a huge slacker on all of those goals. I've just told myself that when I was ready I could do it, and I've just not been feeling very ready for the last 24 years. I went to college for a year but then came back home. I'd like to find a husband but I still don't know what I want to "DO" for a living and havent yet gotten to the point where I don't want to be at home. Or at least find it favorable to the option of living in some low rent place with a roommate who I may or may not care for.

    So I don't feel particularly young. I feel like I'm already running out of time. But I'm not worried so much about how I look, and perhaps I do dress a bit young -- I am finally visiting the Jrs. section less though.

    Chic on the Cheap

  12. Terrific photo!

    pfffff, age...I don't know how I'm suppose to feel or dress at my age (43). I'm making it up as I go along!

  13. Great pose and outfit! I love a belted cardi! On the age issue I'm only 24. I really just dress how I want, but I know the do's and don't's for certain environments.