There is something seductive about turning over a new leaf as the new year dawns, isn't there? We ought to be too old and cynical to engage in such fantasies, but as I said in last week's blog, one of my mantras is 'It's never too late!' And I truly do believe that reinvention is possible and may actually be essential as we age. I think that one of the things that bothers me most about the older people I see when I am out and about is the number who have thrown in the towel and surrendered to a kind of cowed invisibility. And is it any wonder when we live in a society in which ageism is the last acceptable prejudice? This notion was explored in an excellent article in The Times last Saturday by Janice Turner entitled 'It's time we saw older people as a blessing and not a problem.' For the very first time I was reading the views of someone younger which chimed perfectly with the ones I hold myself! I am cautiously hopeful that the tide of ageism is turning, as it must. This is why I am so excited about the publication of 'Living the Life More Fabulous' in early February, because I truly believe our time is coming.
So - no more 'invisibility cloak' for us. Let's make 2018 the year that we stood out from the crowd, walked tall and felt proud rather than apologetic about our ageing selves. And here are the best three ways I know to feel better about yourself and to have other people respond to you more positively:
Make friends with your mirror. So many older women I see look pale and almost bleached out. Yet it's so quick and easy to add some colour and life to our faces. Makeup is the very best 'instant visibility fix' I know. Every day I go from frightful to fabulous in about 15 minutes. You may think that I am exaggerating, but truly I am not! My face starts blotchy and uneven with red patches and blemishes. Our Foundation and Conceal covers all these flaws so that nobody ever knows how bad I really look! Then Fabulous Light and Blush add shape, dewiness and brightness which brings my whole face to life. And what would I do without Eye Shades, Brow Shape and Mascara to enlarge my piggy-looking morning eyes? And before I leave the house I quickly add a lovely swipe of colour to my lips and I can literally 'face the day.' And it will still look just as fabulous at 10.30 pm when I cleanse it off before bedtime, because I have used our three primers to stabilise all the makeup on my face, eyes and lips.
Stay engaged with the world of fashion but on your own terms. Banish beige and bland and black and bleak from your wardrobe! Beige and black seem to be the default choice for so many older women, but worn near the face, neither colour will do you any favours. I do still quite like black tops and I also have a very warm black winter coat, but I always make sure to team them with a colourful scarf, and very jazzy earrings and necklaces (see left Mary, 76). I also wear a really vibrant lippie when wearing black (like Fuchsia or Cherry Red for cool tones or True Coral or Russet for warm tones) and I always make sure that I have enough blusher on so that I don't look washed out. What I love about brightly coloured clothes or accessories is that they say 'look at me' rather than 'let me disappear into the background'. So my suggestion is that you make 2018 the year you decide to inject some bright life-affirming colour into your wardrobe and dare to stand out from the crowd!
Walk Tall and walk purposefully. This is a new one for me, but it has changed my whole outlook on life when I am out in the world. Older people are not expected to have a purpose in life. If they are shopping there is often no rush, nothing to get back for, so they can amble (or even worse, shuffle) along. I had got into the very bad habit of walking quite slowly with my shoulders slumped and my head down. So I have started to correct my posture by pulling my pelvis under, pushing my shoulders back, lifting my head and walking tall. I have also upped the pace and now make the effort to consciously 'stride out.' And unexpectedly it has made me feel less tentative and more confident. I feel as though I am part of the mainstream and not just an irrelevant rivulet!
You may think that all this 'surface' stuff doesn't really matter much and that age confers the choice not to care what you look like or what others think of you. I would beg to differ. I have always believed that first impressions count, even with strangers, and the way we are treated is very much a reflection of the image we are projecting to the outside world. I take care over my appearance because it makes a huge difference to my morale and the confidence with which I go out into the world. I am very often the oldest person in the room, especially when I speak to groups of people about being an older entrepreneur. I need to get people to listen to me, so I control the initial impression with my appearance and then I use the power of my body language, voice and words to keep them listening. This is the very essence of still being seen and heard and I feel we owe it to ourselves to signal 'I am a blessing in this society, I am definitely not a problem!'
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