Thursday, February 28, 2013

Old is Beautiful

 In the 60s, we saw broad social movements that demanded positive change in our attitudes about women and people of color. Slogans like Sisterhood is Powerful, The Personal is Political and Black is Beautiful were popular ways of sharing new perspectives about race and gender.

The word ageism was coined by gerontologist Dr. Robert Butler  in the 60s at the same time as civil rights, Black Power and womens' lib swept the country. But there was never a broad social movement to revolutionize our perceptions of aging and our attitudes toward older people. Not yet anyway. She said, smiling. But I think it is coming.

As part of my creative aging work, I visualize broad positive changes that create a social climate that supports positive aging and acknowledges the value and contributions of older adults.  Imagination is a very important part of any change, whether personal or social.

How do you imagine your own aging experience, and how do you imagine the social climate around aging? Do your attitudes and beliefs need to lighten and expand in positive ways to allow you to celebrate the experience of aging? 

I often find myself thinking about positive aging slogans. Slogans have a way of capturing our attention and they have the potential to raise our awareness and shift consciousness.

I was thinking about what a great slogan Old is Beautiful is the other day. When I did a Google search, I found a wonderful Pinterest site titled Old is Beautiful.  

 These three images are from that site. Angela Wheelock, a writer based in Vancouver, Canada has done a wonderful job of assembling images of older people that illuminate the beauty of age.

I love this image. I love this old woman's clothing and her cheerful smile as she stands with her garden tools in front of an old shed. She is a person who is unconcerned with what the mainstream fashion police might say of her unique and beautifully eccentric attire.

One aspect of growing older is becoming ourselves even more fully, and that naturally involves eccentricity. That's something that gives oldness its character. I am thinking of Jack Nicholson's appearance at the Oscars the other night. Nicholson's suit seemed a bit too big for him, and his glasses were definitely eccentric. All in all, he appeared as a bit of a character, which he is.

You can have character and also be a character when you grow old. It's part of the pleasure of aging.

And this is another wonderful picture, of an older man who decided to take up dance after he saw how much his granddaughter was enjoying it.

I love seeing how happy he is. Don't you?

Creativity, joy and celebration are important in all stages of life, but especially so in the later years, when we are presented with the choice between growing, integrating and moving into wholeness or stagnating, collapsing, giving up.

I feel invigorated when I look at this image, just as I did when I looked at the other two photos.

You may enjoy looking at the whole collection of pictures that Angela has collected at the link I gave above.

I also wanted to share a pro-aging video that photographer Vicki Topaz has created using some of the photos from her collection Silver: A State of Mind.  In this video, the dialog that accompanies Topaz' photos of women with silver/gray hair is quite wonderful.

"I feel that beauty is not about subterfuge; it's about authenticity" is just one of the comments from the women Topaz photographed. Take a few moments to enjoy this powerful and sweet film clip of women talking about how they are embracing aging and their silver hair, too.

On the home front here, I've been digging in my garden, adding compost, and getting ready for spring. The garden is always a place of delight for me. Yesterday I planted two kiwi vines, and am planning to move a BIG rosemary bush to another location, to make room for more vegetables. Gardening, dancing, walking in the park and woods, visiting with old friends, singing, writing, meditating, cooking---these are some of the ways that I celebrate and appreciate life.

How about you? What are your favorite ways to celebrate and enjoy?


  1. The pictures of the gardener and the dancer are delightful. The faces of the elderly are beautiful. I celebrate every morning by going out the backdoor in my pj's to inspect the morning in any weather and be grateful that now I have the time to do it. Saw the purple crocus are up in my yard here this week.

  2. Celia, It is so great to greet the morning and its new weather the way you do. Here, violets and crocus have appeared in the garden. Thanks for dropping me a note today.

  3. I really like your new look on your blog. The background is beautifully earthy. Aging has always interested me. When I was young I worked in the aging field for a number of years. Now that I am aged I love to look at the faces of others who have aged -- my relatives, friends and others. Aging does not bother me like some of my friends. I always tell them I feel privileged to have grown to the age I am now. I have taken some photos of them but started in earnest a few years ago. Someday I might put them on my blog. Love that gardener photo. -- barbara

  4. Thanks Barbara,
    I agree that we are fortunate to have grown old. I hope you do post some of your photos of older people on your blog someday. Aging does not bother me either. I am just enjoying this time of life quite a bit.