Getting Over Getting Older

By Guest Blogger Helene Oseen

Most of the time I like being fifty-something, but this aging stuff is complex. Inside I still feel like I’m in my thirties, but then I realize that’s the age of my children. One day recently I caught a glimpse of my hands and became aware of the fact that they look like my mother’s. I’m trying to make peace with the lines around my eyes and brackets around my mouth, justifying them with the fact that I laugh a lot, but saggy skin on my hands – yikes – I’m old.

Although it’s easier said than done, there is no point in having angst about aging. Two undeniable truths are: everyone ages and aging sucks.

A book I particularly love, about how we as women think about ourselves, is New Passages, by Gail Sheehy. She says,  “Our concern with how we look as we age may be superficial, but it’s natural. We shouldn’t be ashamed of obsessing about it from time to time. After all, this is one aspect of the passage to the Age of Mastery that all of us face.” She goes on to say, “It’s about finding a new version of attractiveness. It’s making the most of whatever external beauty we have, but also activating sources of internal value. Once we begin to accept and enjoy the roundedness and normal weight gain, the wrinkles and sags that come naturally with maturity, we become grounded.”

So, instead of having a vanity crisis I’ve decided to embrace the journey into my next life cycle. Like every woman, I can’t stop nor reverse the aging process no matter what I do. I don’t have a best-before date and no matter what the cosmetic companies claim, a jar of expensive creme doesn’t contain the fountain of youth. I have made the decision that botox and cosmetic surgery are not for me because I believe that the best face to put forward to the world is the one I was born with.

They say that life after 40 is all downhill, but I’ve finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up and there is still so much more that I want to do. So, if along with these gifts come the other joyful aspects of aging like chin hairs, sagging skin, a slipping memory, age spots and an ever expanding waistline materialize, so be it. Bring it on.

Living your life brings wisdom. Wisdom brought on with age. Aging is not about decline, it’s about growth and possibility. The possibility of staying productive and creative, learning new things, seeing new places, having fun, and passing along what you have learned along the way to the generation that follows you.

Therefore, in this Blog post, I decided to appeal to the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s woman about aging and staying fashionable, since that is my real area of expertise. Our style evolves with each decade. In our teens and 20’s we are busy playing dress-up and the fashion world (and the stores) caters to us. We are comfortable experimenting with a lot of different looks and looking for our identity through clothing. Then in our 30’s many of us join the mommy club and combine that full- time job with our full-time careers. We establish our identity through the roles we play in our relationships, with our kids and in our careers. For most of that decade we are running on empty. We still want to look good but life has gotten a lot more complex and the amount of time and money we are able to spend on ourselves is significantly smaller. It’s also less of a priority. By the time we are in our 40’s we have outgrown much of who we were and with the help of menopause most of our clothing as well. In the 50’s, we are no longer young, but far from old. We are in midlife. It’s the decade that we start to feel lost, not really sure of who we really are or what it’s all about. Our roles and identities are changing and our closets often reflect that. In our 60’s and beyond, we have more time, more money and more courage to look at ourselves and find our signature style that communicates who we are.  My goal today is to help you come to grips with aging, and embrace your own style evolution.

This is how:

  • Re-evaluate your look on a regular basis. If you want a really honest answer, ask your kids. 🙂
  • Choose clothing that fits and flatters who you are today to express your personality in a look that suits your lifestyle.
  • Find the perfect balance between classic dressing with contemporary design.
  • Don’t get into the style rut of same old, same old. Open your mind to new possibilities and perspectives.

Women with ageless style always stay true to who they are, no matter what their age and stage of life.

Now don’t get me wrong… despite being a happy and contented woman, there is still a lot about aging that scares me. I have joined the menopause club and know that this normal physical process affects my health and longevity. I do know that when I look and feel my personal best I feel personally powerful. When I feel personally powerful I believe in myself and choose to embrace life no matter what challenging times and incredible opportunities await me.

I intend to wear my life well in the style and spirit of aging beautifully inside and out.

Maja Angelou reminds us, “We have to value ourselves not for what we look like or the things we possess, but for the women we are.”

Whew, I hope I can.


What scares you about aging?

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Helene Oseen is a fashion therapist and best-selling author of Fashion 911®. Through her writing, speaking and events, Helene inspires women to learn to love who they are, to own their power and to let their best self shine.

Considered a genuine fashion and style expert, Helen has helped women make friends with fashion and develop their personal power and charisma for over 20 years. Author of the best-selling book Fashion 911, she also wrote weekly Fashion 911 newspaper columns for newspapers across the country and was regularly quoted in newspaper and magazine articles including Canadian Living and FLARE.  She was honored with the Global Television/YWCA Woman of Vision award.

Her blog www.MidlifeMakeover.ca will help you laugh and cope as you get older (and hopefully wiser) with spirit, style and sass.

37 Comments
  1. I really enjoyed this post. All those things you said scare me… hairy chins and expanded waistlines. But I work out and try and keep a positive attitudde. I’m hoping this will carry me though old age. Thank you.

  2. I’m not scared of getting older. I know that if I exercise, eat right, sleep, lay off too much alcohol and sugar I’ll make it okay. I think the key to aging is living happy. If we’re happy, aging seems secondary. Nice post.

  3. I loved the pictures! The “aging” wonder woman is brilliant. Nice post. I worry about other things a lot but for some reason getting older isn’t one of them. Maybe it’s because I’m 31. I’ll tell you again in another 10 years.

  4. Rebecca,

    Those are my thoughts exactly. I have found that when I was younger (I’m in my 50’s now) I could get away with not always making the best choices around exercise, eating … now it makes a significant difference as to how I look and feel. The most attractive aspect of a woman is likeing who she is and the life she has created for herself.

  5. For right now, my brain is occupied by many thoughts…. oh yes. But aging doesn’t consume me yet. Yes, for sure, I have new lines… around my eyes, my mouth, but with a little makeup, I can still manage to look somewhat youthful. I am into aging NATURALLY too. I also loved where you said… I believe that the best face to put forward to the world is the one I was born with. Great thoughts and advice for women of all ages. Thank you for your wise words. 😉

  6. I seem to think of myself at the perpetual age of 28; before having children. Unfortunately the pre-motherhood body has long since disappeared. I am prepared to live with the physical changes but my style remains forever young. I only hope that my experiences since that age have helped me to mature and given me the wisdom to pass on to others.

  7. What an inspirational post! I too love the idea of growing old gracefully. I’m fortunate that I only have a few small lines around my face being mid-30s, but I love natural faces on older women. Older women have lived and faces should show experience, not just be a blank cookie cutter expression. I also agree with Helene that it’s important to still make an effort. I’m pretty low maintenance, but I feel so much better when I make an effort. I live in Germany and German women LOVE scarves which I’ve never really worn before but am starting to now and I can see what the fuss is all about. Scarves can really transform an outfit, so I’m glad that I’m still continuing to evolve my fashion sense and they show that you put some time into your effort.

  8. I had the opportunity through a friend to be directed to your guest blog. I enjoyed reading it very much.

    I am one of those who believe age is a state of mind. Some days when I get to the edge of a puddle I jump into it making a splash, getting soaked and laughing at my silly antics. Then there are the days I skirt the puddle thinking I would like to jump through it and don’t. That’s the 50+ lady coming out in me who is thinks she is supposed to know better. LOL.

    There are days I wish I had 3 sets of feet….one for the puddles, one for the now and one to reach out and trod on all there is yet to live and learn. Aging doesn’t scare me it intrigues me knowing that anything I want to do is available to me and If I don’t like how things are in my life I have the power to make change either to my surroundings or my appearance.

    One thing I know for sure….there will always be puddles to make me smile.

  9. You know your getting old when you have more chin hairs than eyebrows to pluck and you need a magnifying mirror to do both! 🙂

    I am not *fifty-something*, I am fifty-five. I have grey hair, wrinkles and laugh-lines. My hands show my age as much as my face. I am not struggling to find myself nor am I trying to come to terms with who I am at this stage in my life. I was gainfully employed for 36 years, raised two grown children who have blessed me with the most precious gift a person of my generation can have…grand-children.

    Should all of the above-mentioned had happened when I was in my *youth* I would have totally been unprepared but at this age, I’m ready. All the years it took to get here provided me with everything I need to embrace IT and myself. Through all the highs and the lows, my sense of humour proved to be and still is, a wonderful *survival* tool.

    Looking and feeling your best is about being your best. Being your best is best accomplished by giving your best.

    1. Paula,

      I hear you about the chin hairs! I am 56 and also know that one of the best things about being where I am in life is being a grandma. I have a three year old grandaughter Zoe who gives me so much joy – our grandson is expected to arrive around the same time as Santa this year. Thank you for your comments.

  10. I’m not scared of getting older either (I’m 38). Granted, I’m not delighted with the vertical line that seems to constantly be between my eyebrows now and gives me a perpetual air of annoyance. I’m a happy person, not an angry one! Maybe just a bit of Botox to smooth that out? Getting older is so much better than the alternative…

    1. Yes it it…my best friend was diagnosed with cancer last year and just recently been given a clean bill of health. I’ll take the ‘grooves’ as the makeup artist at the department store recently called them over the alternative anytime.

  11. When I turned 50, I was shocked. How did most my life go by so quickly? I’ve read all of Gail Sheehy’s books and they’re wonderful. Unfortunately, she had a serious breakdown after the one you quoted, though she resumed brilliantly. Getting older takes a huge mental toll on everyone, men included. The deeper issue is what Wordsworth describes in his epic “Intimations on Immortality.” When we’re young, we think we’re immortal…but we move further away from innocence and play. For me, the book Getting Over Getting Older by Letty Cottin Pogrebin (on Amazon) helped vastly. I found it about a year after my 50th and it is specifically for women turning 50 and the woman-to-woman, friend-to-friend rituals (of the past) that go with this age.

    Love your post because it is so current for Baby Boomers and helps us focus on what we do/don’t want. Thank you!

  12. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back…

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