In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

I Yam What I Yam

6 Comments

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credit: walkingwith.net

I have to say, I wish I had written this article What Not to Wear After Age 50: The Final Say by Michele Combs in the Huffington Post sent to me yesterday by someone who truly cares–the same one who sent me the original article this one counters.

Google ‘what not to wear after age 50’ and you will have your pick of thousands of articles telling you what looks terrible on your old ass body.

It’s not just Combs’ tell it like it is humor and irreverence that amuses me or the supportive message of the sender of the article that entertains me with a big ole “right on!” in reaction to this writing. It’s that it is truth, not just defensiveness disguised as truth or solely my truth.

Just as there are rites of passage for 13 year olds becoming men or women like Bar or Bat Mitzvah’s, symbols of acknowledged or expected responsibility for being part of the community of adulthood and baptisms by fire with the drunken night out or at the porcelain pedestal on a 21st birthday, signifying responsibility to the community’s recreating populace, so too there is a rite of passage for older adults, women over 50, in particular: becoming themselves.

50+ women who dress for themselves, to their own comfort and feel-good production, are totems to younger women, a signpost of what’s ahead for them, and encouragement to keep up the good fight of daring to say, “but this is me.”

So much struggling and striving and settling in the 20s, 30s and 40s, in living for others–parents, children, friends, lovers, employers and parents again–I have to believe there is some culminating prize for the effort, and I’m not talking about retirement. Retirement is an illusory carrot invented to keep people from walking off into the night or out to the desert to leave society just when (American) society wishes their less “productive” asses to leave.

Wearing the I don’t give a flying fuck because I’m comfortable style is the reward for a life too long lived giving a shit about things that don’t matter–like how we look to others, the messages our clothing and makeup (or lack thereof) send to others so that they can properly label us and act accordingly. We figure this out when the physical and mental wanes just as the emotional waxes.

You are over 50 for fuck’s sake. Wear whatever you want

Trending with or against the current style dictates for age appropriateness is a choice for the 50 something that she has earned–real choice. She has only one message to send if she has paid her dues to harvest the fruits of her life long burns and labors: I yam what I yam. And perhaps her legacy is in planting seeds in her progeny to do the same.

If I could beam one insight into my daughters’ beings it would be: Stop curtailing yourself to satisfy others. The sooner you allow yourself to be yourself, the longer your happiness will be.

6 thoughts on “I Yam What I Yam

  1. I am so delighted with this Popeye pic, the essence of my artistic statement.
    I used to look at my father as he got older, he looked like shit. He wore what he wanted, might even comb his hair on occasion and fully button his shirt. He might be seen wearing slippers. It was disgusting. He once showed up at the karate school my sister and I were training at looking that way, I was so embarrassed I decided to NEVER let myself degenerate to such a stage, and yes, it was a stage with a declination that reversed itself upon my mother’s death into a new version of the old weasel I dubbed Dot Com Dad.

    My mother’s father always wore a suit with suspenders, he was an old time 1930’s gangster ran gambling in New York. He looked sharp and I respected him for it. He smoked cigars and had a penchant for pistachio nuts. His name was Sob Haick, from Lebenon, he had fathered a huge family and supported them and several houses with gambling winnings and business. He was a shoe maker by trade and had a store for decades that was the basic meeting place for his associates. My mother would relate to me how in one meeting they had to decide who among them would be arrested so the local police could maintain their dignity despite being on the payroll.
    As I grow older I intend to dress up more and more, eventually to being the ancient dude that looks sharp and can still dance.
    I prefer the other gentlemen in my class allow themselves the privilege of growing drearily fat and old, tattered around the edges or wearing the latest from Sears or Walmart…. No thanks, I will move to Africa and wear tribal garb first.
    Just my perspective, even Popeye was a man in uniform.

    • Colorful cast of characters in your family, dressers to fit their personalities I suppose. Wearing what you want doesn’t necessarily mean letting your personal appearance go. The typical lists of “no-no’s” for women over 50 include mini skirts and cheap trendy shoes or certain youthful colors…crap like that. In other words, there is a fashion police that dictates what you should wear in which decade. You don’t have to conform to trends or rebel; wear what you like, even if the busy-bodies looking to make a dime with their advice don’t agree that you do. But you don’t have to look slovenly or unkempt…unless that’s your adopted style.

  2. I have to add, the other day my sister related to me how miserable she was when my mother insisted she wear a bra. Thought about it and would surely have freaked as if it were some yoke of possession, a mark upon me. Has to be a completely different mind set for a female.
    I would not have done well as one having things thrust upon me that seem out of place in a more organic setting.

    • Yes, bra’s, corsets, and other medieval instruments of torture make me miss the no-bra days of the early 70s. I remember getting sent home the first day of 8th grade for not wearing a bra. My mother was pissed at having to come to school to bring me one, but more pissed at the school than at me (for once).

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