Early last week I wrote a piece elsewhere, which was mainly in praise of Lady Hale, the wonder woman heading up our Supreme Court. And she really is a wonder woman as the court’s judgement on the legality of our Parliament’s prorogation was superb in its depth and breadth yet was written in easily understandable plain English. But not only that, the verdict was unanimous, which was considered amazing and seemingly all down to her leadership.
All appears forgotten now but at the time, after reading the judgement, I thought that a breath of fresh air had wafted over the cesspit of our current political situation. But leaving that aside and despite the piece being serious I also noted (as did others) her jewellery. Oh wow, that spider broach – I want! Apparently, she has many similar broaches ranging from insects (some more deadly than others) to flowers and thinks carefully which one would be appropriate – do look at this link for some examples. But a huge spider for that occasion? What a hoot.
I also mentioned her age (74) which one shouldn’t really, as of what significance is age anyway. But there you were, a woman in her prime and at the very peak of her profession reading out this immensely important judgement in a calm, clear voice – what a role model for the 70+ age group. Now, when the media wants an image of an older woman, I wonder if they wouldn’t mind, please, thinking of Lady Hale and others like her, and not giving us what we usually get, which is a photo of an aged woman staring out of a window, or someone leaning on a stick, or in a group setting in a care home, or those aged hands. So boring and so very stereotypical of an image that younger media types have of the old.
What I loved about Lady Hale is that she is, I think, very typical of how older women look. Because most of the time our image of age and ageing in the media is either dominated by the older women described above or, we get the exceptional, the outliers of ageing who are wonderful and unusual and a bit Instagram glossy – although I totally admire Jean Woods who is stunningly quirky at 77 and has a huge Instagram following. But if an example of an ageing woman is needed it’s usually Helen Mirren for the 70+ age-group (who’s currently starring in Catherine the Great and playing a 40-yr-old and doing it rather well apparently) and the wonderful Dame Judy representing the 80+. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being exceptional and out there. Just recently two other older outliers come to mind: Debbie Harry of Blondie fame has just published a really raunchy memoir and Prue Leith of Bakeoff featured in my Sunday newspaper and I noted that this 79-yr-old met her second husband at 70. Well why ever not!
But I still think that these magnificent examples don’t look like ordinary women – where are the images of real older women? I don’t see us represented in any fashion magazine or indeed in any makeup and cosmetic ads. And while it might be thought that a pale faced woman without much makeup (e.g. Lady Hale) is not what people want to see in the glossies, because all we want is that glossy polished version of ageing, I’d say let’s have a bit more realism. And, what’s more I’d say this would give us confidence and encouragement as we age. It doesn’t help as we age or put it this way, it doesn’t help me, when I only see polished and unreal versions of ageing faces.
What I think we need is a realisation that just as we are so different when we were young the same applies as we age and therefore there is a need for more role models and categories of ageing women, so that we acknowledge the types who work into their 70s and beyond; the writers, the politicians, the judges, the academics. We also acknowledge the fit who run marathons, who dance and do weights, and we take note of and revere the women who volunteer, who are mainstays of communities. Then there are the campaigners: just recently the media is full of images of older people being arrested on Extinction Rebellion actions – more power to them, I say.
By the way, an 80+ woman I admire for her natural look is Charlotte who is the mother of Jodie of Jodie’s Touch of Style – do have a look at Charlotte’s style here. And have you read Joyce Williams’ blog? On twitter Joyce is at the forefront of being #ageproud and challenges #unthinkingageism whenever she sees it and, at 84 years of age is definitely a role model for me when I reach my 80s.
So the diversity of ageing is out there, but basically, I’m saying that the 70+ age group is often (albeit not always) seen in the media as either victims of old age (lonely with gnarled hands) or polished versions of ourselves in Vogue or Instagram. But we are many, we are varied, we are diverse, and how great it was to see one of us out there taking on the government in such an erudite and intelligent way. All hail Lady Hale!
No pix for this post but I’ll be doing another post very soon 🙂
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper