I was whiling away my lack of time, procrastinating, chilling, connecting, socialising; call it what you will but, I came across this post. The article and the photos challenge our perceptions of age and capacity to do things. How many times do you make judgements about people based on their age, their gender, their job, where they live? It made me think of my gymnastics coach when I was just 10 or 11. Her name was “Mrs Pollard” (we would never have dreamed of even imagining what her first name was, let alone using it!) and she seemed ancient to me. She was very small, very skinny, very wrinkly and incredibly flexible and strong. She could still do the splits and do handstands. And she was very dear to us even though she scared the living daylights out of us!
As I get older, I am surprised when I look in the mirror at the middle aged woman that looks back at me. Surely that is not me?! The grey hair, the crinkles in the corner of my eyes, the wrinkles around my neck if I look at the wrong angle, the liver spots on my hands. I am surprised because in my head I don’t feel that old. I don’t picture myself that old. I don’t feel that old. I am not that old… it is just an illusion. Of course, 52 isn’t old. I can still do handstands. But not the splits!
Isn’t it interesting though how age is perceived in different cultures? In western cultures we adore youth, fresh skin, slim hips, bright eyes. How many “stars” have facelifts, bottom tucks, boob jobs (male and female) to maintain the illusion of youth? We often ridicule the forgetful traits of the older generation, their old-fashioned morals and values. But in India and Japan, in Native American cultures and in many tribal communities in Africa and other places around the world, older people are respected and honoured. Their wisdom and experience of life is acknowledged, they are looked after and welcomed into family homes to live out the latter parts of their lives. In Japan, elderly people are celebrated with their own special day “to express respect for them, and to recognise and thank them for their contributions to society”.
But maybe the tide is about to turn? Another Facebook post from a friend recently was this article about going grey gracefully. Grey, apparently, is the new “chic”! Bring it on!