Why is it, especially in western society, that older women are seen to be “unlovely” because of their wrinkles, their faded complexions, their thinning hair? I ask this because it is quite obvious in many cultures that aging is equated with wisdom and that age, in the number of years, to be seen as something to be admired.
Women of age, and of different nationalities are nurtured and loved within the family unit; it’s not unusual to see four generations in the one home all doing their own thing, but being mentored in the womanly arts of cooking, craft work, good manners and etiquette among each other, by the eldest member (s) of the family.
Take for instance our Greek and Italian friends. They live for each other, they go places and do things together; they eat together, they celebrate together. They help each other. They cook for each other, they do for each other. When there is a need it is met by others within the family. They don’t even seem to notice age differences. It’s the people and personalities that seem to matter. Funny thing, that.
I have a personal friend – a lovely Chinese woman Linda, whose large home she shares with her husband, their daughter and son and their partners, their little children. Her home is also shared with her mother. This wonderful great grand-mother is revered as the sage of the family; everyone seeks her advice and everyone treats her as a special precious gem. She is included in every discussion and every decision made within the family. She is in her late 80s. Her great grand-children are in her care during the day. The joy this family has in her presence in their lives is overwhelming in its simplicity and intensity.
Yet I have another friend in her 60s who is ignored by her children and grandchildren. They’re too busy. She is forgotten for months on end, and then usually it’s only when someone wants something that she has that they will contact her. She is very seldom included in family get-togethers (birthday, Christmas, Easter) and there’s always an excuse as to why she is “forgotten”. This lady lives less than 3 kms from her son. She lives alone and her loneliness has brought with it illness and lines of anxiety and worry (which could have been avoided if she’d been able to talk through things with the family). Yet she did everything for her family when they were younger; gave them as much as she could and more, was always available for baby-sitting and house-minding when the grandchildren were small and when they went on holidays. But now in her growing older years, she’s seen to be a nuisance, and she’s made to feel it, too.
What is doubly sad about this second lady is that her grandchildren actually told her that she looked “ugly” because she’s old, and they’ve even laughed about her, in her presence. The fact that they now ignore her, is something that she bears because she feels she has to, and because it’s easier to do so.
From what I’ve experienced, as Western women, we tend to look at our reflections as something that needs “beautifying” or making younger by way of anti-aging methods, one way or the way. Shouldn’t we take time to look at ourselves and to study our reflections seeing the beautiful things about us that no one else on this planet shares? Many women from western cultures who are growing older or who are deemed to be “old” have forgotten how to love themselves. They’ve forgotten that they are uniquely formed and created.
We’ve got to get back to basics. We’ve got to treat ourselves as the person we are, not necessarily the age we are. We’re no different to that young teenager wanting to be accepted by a peer group; we’re no different to that young woman wanting to have a happy home and family; we’re no different to the maturing woman wanting to have a career or satisfaction in her hobby, leisure pursuit or even a personal enterprise. We’re no different to that woman through all her states of womanhood as she seeks companionship and love and affection.
What’s age got to do with anything? OK, so we slow down. Our bodies are impacted by gravity and in some cases, illnesses.
But that shouldn’t stop us from doing the things we’ve always wanted to do; and to pamper ourselves every now and again. We should be able to experiment with new things, new dreams, new goals, without having to justify why. Have fun. Don’t take any nonsense from anyone! Don’t accept bad manners, or inappropriate attitudes and/or behaviour.