When I grow up

When I grow up I want to be age-inappropriate. I want to still be wearing tights like these:

Opaque tights

Opaque tights from welovecolors.com

And necklaces like these:

Necklaces by Tatty Devine and Melody Ehsani

Really shit photo of necklaces by Tatty Devine and Melody Ehsani

And pretend I’m (the late) Isabella Blow’s less-daring niece:

Isabella Blow

Isabella Blow in octopus hat and lobster necklace (NY Times image)

When I grow up I want to be fabulous. As in, “faaaahbulous, darling”, like 70-year-old Maria Venuti:

Maria Venuti

The very fabulous Maria Venuti (Triple M image)

And Susie Elelman, who wonderfully, inspiringly, refuses to allow unnamed journos to dictate what she wears:

Susie Elelman

Susie Elelman doesn't care that journos don't like her outfits (AdelaideNow image)

Law and Shoes got me thinking about this, with her great post, The Dress Code Bullies & the Mini Skirt Use By Date:

The problem with what-to-wear articles and so-called dress codes in general is that the end result is not better dressed, happier people but conservatively dressed, self-censoring people.

According to the latest “style rules” (details in the post above), you can’t have a belly button piercing after 35, long hair after 53, or wear a swimsuit after 61. I guess that means that once you retire you can swim nude. Won’t that make the body police happy? (And speaking of body police, Law and Shoes writes about Nedahl Stelio, who says minis are ok on Elle Macpherson but not on Janice Dickinson, simply because of how Stelio has judged their bodies. I’ve written about Stelio’s hypocrisy before.)

When I grow up, I want to be still saying “vagina” really loudly in public. I want to be loud and confident and opinionated like Roseanne Barr:

Roseanne Barr

The ground-breaking Roseanne Barr (NYMag image)

When I grow up I want to be eccentric like Vivienne Westwood, even though she finds the term boring and overused:

Vivienne Westwood

The striking Vivienne Westwood (Guardian image)

When I grow up I want to be shit-stirring like Germaine Greer, because even though I don’t agree with everything she says, I love that she says whatever the hell she wants:

Germaine Greer

The fearless Germaine Greer (SMH image)

What these women have in common is that they won’t do what our culture tells them to do. They didn’t become invisible when they turned 40. Or when they turned 50 and 60 and 70, which makes them the best role models a woman can have. Every time someone looks at a picture of Madonna and says “oh, put it away”, I want to shake them by the shoulders and yell, “why? Are you so precious that you refuse to look at a body that is older than your own, and are you so conceited that you think you can tell another person what they’re allowed to wear?”.

And since I’m putting in my requests, when I grow up I’d love to be smokin’ hot like Helen Mirren, but alas, I think you have to be smokin’ hot to start with:

Helen Mirren

The stunning Helen Mirren (Cinema Blend image)

26 responses to “When I grow up

  1. yes, so frakin yes!

  2. Rhiannon Saxon

    When I used to sing in a gospel choir, one of the other choir members was talking about a loud flashy vulgar older woman they knew, who dressed in very (allegedly) age-inappropriate clothes…when someone said to them ‘Don’t you think you’re a bit…you know….Mutton Dressed As Lamb?’ this woman replied, ‘”Well, it’s better than being Mutton Dressed As Mutton, dear.”

  3. Kat Caterwaul

    When I was but a young Kat, there was this awesome lady in her…hrm… probably 70s, I think, who would catch the bus I got home from school. She wore bright opaque tights, and leopard print miniskirts, and big fake fur coats, and pixie boots, and berets, and rocked it all, and gave not a single fig about what anyone said. My aim for old ladyhood is to be that fantastic. Or to be as awesome as Judi Dench.

    I’ve been thinking about the idea of invisibility, and I’m wondering if it’s not so much that we need to be invisible, but that we’re only allowed visibility within a set of very narrow, rigid definitions of older-woman-hood. We can be nurturers – grandmothers, aunts, kindly primary school teachers – or unfulfilled old bats – the disapproving bank teller with hair up in a tight bun and a sour face, the ‘crazy’ cat lady. Either way, it has to be safe, sexless and non-threatening.

    (If you haven’t already, check out sockdreams.com for all your age inappropriate leg-cladding needs. They take big chunks of my money.)

    • Judi Dench, yes!

      I think you’re right about allowed visibility. I’ve noticed that when I go to uni, I become invisible to the other (younger) students. I’m almost two decades older, so it’s not surprising. But as I walk home, into an area with lots of older people in it, I become visible again to the old men who say hello and leer at my boobs.

      And yes, I know the evilness of sockdreams…

  4. Me too, me too!

    I just bought my teen daughter a pair of tights, one leg is spotty, the other leg is stripey, I wish they made them in my size. But you’re looking at a 35 year old woman who wears football socks (pulled up) with mary janes and skirts.

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      I just bought myself the most awesome tie-dyed slouch legwarmers that look GREAT with my purple lace-up ugg boots and my zip-up purple embroidered frock-coat. My husband is thrilled that I have started dressing like a hippy again. They all go with my rows of Indian silver and semi-precious-stones rings, my silver bracelets and bangles (I inherited a couple from my sister and so have taken to wearing bracelets and bangles again) and silver and semi-precious-stone pendants. I have also taken to (it being the chilly season) wearing different kinds of crazy hats (Like one that has a long tail that winds around my neck like a scarf!) and scarves again, even when I wear my dropping-the-kids-off uniform of jeans and minidresses and cardigan-coats and docs. Aaaahhhhh how I am not looking forward to finding a respectable job with a uniform….

  5. I’m 45 and I wear MaryJanes. I love them.

    Also, I was planning on not growing up.

    • After I hit ‘publish’ I thought I should have called it ‘When I grow older’. When I tweeted this post, saying that when I grow up I want to be age-inappropriate, my friend @MrSABlack replied with “I think that’s a safe bet somehow…” Aww, bless.

  6. I’m 40 and have been getting progressively more adventurous with my clothing as the years go by. Not that I’m very adventurous…but give me another decade or two and who knows! I horrified my younger sister on the weekend by saying that buying a pair of Docs boots was on my to do list, she’s often horrified by me which gives me great pleasure.

    In the drama classes I’ve been doing this year we had to write a semi-autobiographical monologue on the topic of “I don’t think I’m a grown-up yet.” I found it remarkably easy to write 🙂

    • I got my DM’s last year but I am cursing myself for playing safe with black and not getting the turquoise….a lotto win would see them marching into my closet.

      • My daughter has appropriated my cherry Docs. I just steal them back when I feel like wearing them. And I steal her shoes too, it’s great having little feet, hers haven’t finished growing….and she has a pair of chunky white boots that will totally say Property of Mum very soon.

        • Rhiannon Saxon

          AAaahahahaha! My sisters and niece and I regularly exchange clothes and shoes, but I have smaller feet than most of them…which is one reason why when we were sorting out Elanor’s clothes I ended up with the most AWESOME pair of khaki-embroidered with pink and pale green leaves and flowers and a red diamante butterfly, AND pink laces, and pink and green binding around the laces-opening…canvas sneakers. I love them! (Small-ish feet AND my younger sister Beatrix kindly saying that she would relinquish her claim to them.)

          My sister Guin found that she lost her cool shoes and boots to her daughter at a fairly young age…!

    • Rhiannon Saxon

      My sister Elanor said when she got into Uni in her mid-thirties, ‘I just got accepted into Uni! I need a pair of Docs and a new lunchbox!”

      I guess..what else DOES one need for uni? Hee hee.

  7. I was gutted I had to remove my belly ring at aged 37 because my pregnant belly was expanding and it was starting to pull and cause problems. I can’t be bothered to re pierce it but it still looks weird after 20 years not seeing it.

  8. What a fabulous post. I love the photo of Rosanne. Very commanding presence!

    • It’s such a fabulous photo. I love it.

      • I wish I had the courage to go grey like her..I am around 80% grey now but I currently dye it blonde (after a lifetime of natural dark brown and variations on the theme of red.) (Blonde because my grey re-growth doesn’t show up like some sort of silver racing-stripe as it normally does.)
        Had my first grey hair when I was 13. Waaah!

        • I dye my hair, but that’s because it’s mousy brown and boring. I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t have too many greys, but funnily enough, I got more when I was with my dickhead ex than I have in the eight or nine years since I got him out of my life.

        • I’m very grey too. I envy you being able to go blonde. I simply can’t dye my hair that light. I’m stuck with the Pepe Le Pew look every time my roots grow out. I wouldn’t mind a Lily Munster streak of grey, but you know, my grey refuses to conform… (I got my first grey hairs moving in with my husband back when I was 18)

  9. Pingback: There’s nothing more pathetic than writing about how old people should disappear | the news with nipples

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