Are you the epitome of the sizzling ageless boomer babe that women envy or try to emulate? Do you work hard to stay in shape, look hot in your skinny jeans and project an “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” image in your leather biker jacket? When you walk into a room of your peers, do they glare at your hotness with obvious resentment that clearly says “Who do YOU think YOU are?” Yeah, it’s tough being a gorgeous older woman, isn’t it? Because you work so hard to keep the heat turned up, you think the sizzle is going to last forever, don’t you?
I have a few hot flashes for you.
Right now you may consider yourself “hot” and undoubtedly you are, but be aware that once you get to retirement age, through no fault of your own, your hotness will slowly dissipate and you will become “retirement cute” especially if you do, say, or believe something different than what’s expected of you “at your age.”
Once you become “retirement cute” you are good for giggles. For example, if you are single and make it known you’d like to have a guy in your life, that is soooo unbelievably cute. (Aren’t those cute old gals looking for romance a riot? Those over the hill libidinous lizzies (wink wink) are too cute for words.)
If by a stroke of good fortune you already have a hunky guy (giggle giggle) and he’s significantly younger than you, OMG! A boy toy! That is really cute! (Let’s drink to that! Aren’t we thrilled for that cute old gal?)
What’s super cute is if you are seen walking hand-in-hand with a lucky duck who obviously thinks you are hotter than a 10-alarm fire. That is so adorable and so doggone cute. Especially if you are wearing your skinny jeans and leather biker jacket (snicker, snicker).
Alas, there is something just as annoying as being “cute”: It’s being called “wonderful” for your age.
I can’t count the number of times I have been told, “You are soooo wonderful for your age.” I admit to being “wonderful” but my age has nothing to do with my wonderful-ness. And no, I am not “cute”; I am drop dead gorgeous in my skinny jeans and leather biker jacket. Well, maybe I’m not really drop dead gorgeous but listen — you are what you say you are, and because I’m so wonderful for my age, I say any damn thing I want. And besides, it’s so cute.
How does it happen that it’s okay to demean mature women with backhanded compliments that, even though well intended, are offensive? It happens for many reasons; the most obvious being entrenched stereotypical cultural attitudes reflected, for example, in Betty White’s (cancelled, thankfully) abominable “Off Their Rockers” TV show that celebrated old pranksters engaged in supposedly funny but demeaning activities to demonstrate how wonderful (and cute) they were for their age.
Regarding the “Off Their Rockers” fiasco, my friend Mary Lloyd has cogently pointed out, “No one would dream of making a series based on racist jokes or even “dumb blonde” or other sexist jokes. Why is this ageist garbage deemed acceptable?”
The ageist garbage is deemed acceptable because our base culture doesn’t care how objectionable it is, and not only ignorantly accepts it but celebrates and promotes it.
Unfortunately, most older women timidly recoil from confronting it. The feminist movement has done little to combat it. There is no organized rebellion and frankly, I don’t see one happening because stereotypes and entrenched outdated traditions die hard and truth be told, old people themselves too often invite and propagate disrespect by engaging in traditional debasing stereotypical behaviors and thinking. I’m referring specifically to demeaning “old people jokes” that old people (and not- so-old people) tell each other. Then there is acceptance by old people that it’s cute to call themselves “Old Geezers” “Old Farts” or worse. It’s not cute; it’s disgusting and perpetuates myths about the competence and value of old people.
We have been brainwashed to accept “realities” about advanced age that are about as advanced as the horse and buggy as the preferred mode of transportation.
Every older woman in her own way deals with cultural norms that call the shots about what is and is not acceptable thinking and behavior for “old” people. My way of dealing with it is to declare I am 50 forever. Am I being “cute”? Who cares. Ignoring age-related cultural norms and outdated thinking works for me. Try it, you will like it.