I threw a party that I did not want to have! If you are a woman you never look forward to this party, I think. It is the one for the milestone birthday of turning 65.
You instantly join a tribe of human females called ‘Seniors’ and what women experience is not pretty. Most assuredly it quite quickly does not feel good to be a woman in our culture. In fact you pray to God for any possible direction, from any possible source, to make a U-turn.
No one tells you directly that aging that year, which is the best of the alternatives to not adding one more candle on your birthday cake, has any negative features to it that are capable of impacting you in such areas as your self esteem, your sense of purpose for living, or your confidence to express your sexuality.
It starts rather subtly, disguised as humour often: The birthday cards and email jokes arrive with images of older woman with blue hair and rollers, false teeth, saggy boobs, skinny knobby knees, shrivelled skin and petite bent-over bodies who are shaking crooked canes madly in the air and yelling some inane comment about leaky bladders or Botox that are supposed to make you laugh, while wishing you ‘Happy Birthday!’ The recipient might smile a strange little grin, appreciating that her friends and family have remembered her, but sadly notes that somehow, she does not find them very funny.
It builds in the women’s magazines and retirement periodicals that pander to your age group and run copious advertisements that tell you that you can, and should, erase the ugly and ever proliferating presence of wrinkles with this or that, and that you can look much more beautiful by colouring out the grey and by cutting your long silver locks into a bob that gives a more youthful appearance. It contains compelling articles about how unbelievingly amazing it is, that the drop dead gorgeous actress Olivia Newton John actually was still able to find love at 59, even though the well-worn joke that a woman over 40 has about as much chance of marriage as being killed by terrorists, illustrates the common perception. It also contains unsettling articles about overpriced assisted living residences, how to meet emotional needs and the desire for physical touch through your grandchildren, and how searching out other older women is your best shot for a travelmate.
Your deleterious descent into the depressed state of realization that the 65th birthday party you held put you into a whole new ballgame, where your talents and abilities would be regularly unnoticed, unused, unneeded, unwanted and unappreciated almost everywhere, even though the week before you might have been a senior partner in a law firm, a department head in a high school or an economist for Revenue Canada. People will suggest that you find meaning in life by playing card games at a beginners level three times a week, by removing pesky dandelions from your manicured lawn or by planning a boring vacation to Florida next winter among other malcontented elderly also lost in their search for meaning, who reside in crowded cheap trailer parks which shut up tight at 7 pm, and where thinking about sex but a long forgotten reverie of the hard wired joyful activity common to all loving couples.
Then you begin to start thinking that these stereotypes might really be true. You catch an unexpected glimpse of yourself in a reflection off the glass in a door while entering a retail store and think you are not really that attractive anymore, that you are definitely showing your age and that dreaming about finding a date for the Led Zeppelin concert, on line, is an utterly foolhardy expectation looking like you do at 65. It is one-hundred per cent confirmed when a full-term pregnant young mom to be, kindly holds the door for you, offers to help carry your small bag of purchases weighing all, of five pounds, and calls you ‘Dearie’, ‘Sweetie’ or ‘Hon’. And you wonder if you actually do get a date for that concert, if your children will tell their friends that we made a ‘cute couple’.
I have decided to protest by suggesting a new name for women of my vintage and will seek to have it entrenched into the English language in the Oxford English Dictionary and try to have it put into Canadian law that it be used for us ‘little old women’ who are over 65.
I want to be called a ‘Classic Woman’’, or ‘Classic Lady’.
Classic books like Pride and Prejudice written in 1813 are described as literary masterpieces. Classic cars like a restored 1932 Ford Roadster are expensive and prized. Classic movies like Gone With the Wind made in 1939, are studied for their brilliance and revisited by movie critics again and again. Classic songs like I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston are played today like hit parade chart toppers because we appreciate the unforgettable lyrics, the driving rhythms and the quintessential quality voice that sang it first in 1987.
Classic is a word which connotes value, respect, and admiration It brings to mind words and thoughts associated with masterpieces, desirability, beauty, impactfulness and never to be forgotten things we encounter in our lives. As defined in the dictionary ‘classic’ means 'judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.’
Yes, I think I want to be referred to as a ‘Classic Woman’ for sure. Let’s start the rewind in Canada. Let’s change the negative stereotypes around older women by changing the language which entrench them.
Let’s start calling Canadian women over 65, ‘Classic Women’.
Because, they truly are!