I guess because I’m over fifty and algorithms are real, I keep getting suggested links to articles with titles like, “Ten Outfits You Should Never Wear if You’re Over Fifty” or “Makeup Trends to Avoid if You’re Over Fifty” or “Haircuts That Will Just Make You Look Like a Dried-up Hag if You Are North of Fifty.” I’m just assuming that I get these links because of my age and gender, and not because my web-cam has sent images to the algorithm overlords who have decided that my fashion choices, haircut, and makeup are a serious problem.
And what if they are?
One of the main benefits of being over fifty (perhaps the only one, other than being post-menopausal—you know what I’m talking about, ladies) is not giving a squirrel’s toenail what you think about my outfit, makeup, or haircut.
Do I want to look good? Sure. Who doesn’t? Is it a priority for me? Absolutely not. Looking good is several steps below comfort and practicality. And looking good, a subjective thing on the best of days, is something that is more and more an internal judgment. Do I want to look good for you? A hundred and ten percent no. I do not (anymore—remember, I’m over fifty now) give you permission to live in my head. Your judgment is not my concern. Do I want to look good because it makes me feel fancy and fun? Yeah, that’s it. I’ve got better things to do than shape my look around someone else’s opinion.
This age-appropriate nonsense is killing me. Am I too old to wear miniskirts and crop tops? These articles would tell you I am, they’d also tell you I’m way too big to wear those things. But do I wear them anyway? No, of course I don’t. Why? Because they are not practical pieces of clothing. I have no interest in having to work to keep my fanny covered, and if I’m wearing a crop top I can’t very well open the top button of my pants if I’ve eaten too much lunch, now can I? Am I too old to wear five-inch spike platform heels? No, I’m not too old, I’m too practical. I like a cute shoe as much as anyone else, but I have enough pain I can’t avoid to add avoidable foot pain to the mix.
It’s not just teetering on heels or short skirts that are the issue, though. I recently bought a pair of acid yellow Doc Marten boots because, well, because I wanted them. That’s reason enough. I wanted yellow boots, I wanted the footbed to be foot-shaped, and these were the best I found. I think these are fun, even if they were designed with a twenty-two-year-old neo-punk rocker in mind. They’re quality shoes, comfortable, sturdy, and waterproof, and they make me smile when I see them. Do I look like an idiot when I’m wearing them? Arguably. But do I care? Not in the least. And if you say something negative to my face, these boots have the stomping power to kick you and your judgment to the curb. Same goes for my bright red lipstick. Am I too old for it? The magazines say so, but I like it, so, too bad for the magazine writer I’ve never met.
I know there are enough women over fifty who click on these articles and probably take the advice contained within them to make the advertising dollars spent on them worth it. We live in a world in which women, especially older women, are judged by their looks in a way men aren’t. We’re conditioned to fear the consequences of that judgment, though near as I can tell the consequences of the fear are worse than the consequences of the judgment. As long as we continue to play into that rubric, we will continue to be measured by it.
Bottom line is this: You don’t get the right to make me feel any one way or another about myself. You can have whatever opinion you want, but to tell me that I can’t wear something or can’t cut my hair in a certain way just because I’ve survived for a certain length of time? That’s not survivor talk. And I didn’t survive this many years to care what you think about the battle-scarred body I’ve taken with me or how I choose (or don’t choose) to decorate it.
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If you don’t like it? Well, go on with your bad self. I’d have to care to react. The most I can do is scare up a little pity for you that the best you can do with your day is judge other people for being their honest selves. I didn’t survive this long getting into arguments with people whose opinions don’t matter to me.
 Especially when it is cold or rainy – thanks prior joint surgeries and arthritis!
 Can you imagine the men’s version of those articles? Twenty-year-old men and seventy-year-old men all wear the same thing and my husband has had the same haircut as long as he’s had hair.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.