“Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31).
When did we become so ashamed to age? To advance through life, accepting with it the advantages and disadvantages life may throw at you physically and mentally as you go along. We’re in a time where people causally have ‘botox parties’ or have regular injections to fight the signs of aging with the anti-aging industry likely being in the millions, if not billions of pounds. If there’s a way to run and hide from that looming shadow of ‘old age’, boy, will we run.
In particular, I increasingly come across many women who are never forthcoming about their age and it’s a bit of shame. In fact, you’ll often be in social situations where you have to think twice about broaching the topic of age with some people in case it causes offence. Which is actually bizarre when you think about it – surely, I’m just asking a factual question? I suspect the logic behind this taboo, which has emerged over time, to openly say your age when you reach a certain point in your life is due to the fact it makes it all the more real. Many worry, particularly, if they’re presumed by the crowd they’re with to be younger, if their real age is known, will they be viewed negatively now? As ignorant, slow or less able, perhaps? Whether you’re 43, 38, or 51 – that’s something to be proud of, wear that badge proudly. Each year that advances is another reason to be grateful, life is too short to be shrouded in shame about something you can’t control.
Of course, there’s wider societal factors at play here. Firstly, in many societies old age is painted as one filled with loneliness, money struggles and physical discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, the stats do show that these things can indeed become more prominent as you get older but it doesn’t have to define the life you have as you get older (I hope!). If that’s all you hear all the time, no wonder you would be scared to let go off your youth.
The media secondly, doesn’t portray enough instances of older or elderly people living fulfilling lives. Even for many actors and models in their industries, as soon as you reach a certain age, you’re only given the mum and grandma roles. For sports people, you go from being on the pitch, in the limelight to doing the commentator or show hosting jobs. There is undeniably a shift in If you’re heralded in the industry it usually correlates if you don’t actually resemble that age. We need more Mamma Mia-type films – where older actors are thriving and living their best lives, forming more intergenerational relationships (not just with family) and filled with a hope/positivity that keeps them going.