Modern Retirement: Changing the Image Of Retired Women
By Karen and Erica
We looked around for images that reflected our new retired status. We didn’t find anything. Anywhere.
We found images of women happily ensconced in retirement communities, playing golf. Images of women playing with grandchildren or travelling with significant others. Images of women who had managed their finances well enough to be financially secure – or not. Images of women at risk of falling. And, from time to time, images of “mature” models, usually great beauties, dressed in expensive clothes.
Virtually all of the images we found had nothing to do with women who, until the point of retirement, spent a significant portion of their lives working at engaging careers outside the home. We are, at least in main stream media, invisible.
For whatever the reason, society has not yet caught onto the fact that more women than ever before have worked continuously for decades and are now retiring. And, having spent so many years in the workforce, many of us now have different wants, needs and goals than those who chose different lives.
Most of us will have decades more of productive healthy lives. Many of us will not be satisfied with typical retirement activities. Though we are grateful finally to have the time to be able to do those things, we feel compelled to use our time differently, to maintain engagement with the world and to have a whole new set of accomplishments.
So, we need an image. We have been thinking about what that image should look like. It’s still a work in progress, but at the very least:
Our image needs to reflect that we are out and about with people we knew and new people we meet. We are engaging with the world in new and different ways, exploring how we can contribute to the corporate world, the philanthropic world, and even the worlds of government and politics .
Our image should also reflect that we are not exchanging our dresses, suits and heels for sweats, yoga pants and sneakers. Nor are we reverting to short leather skirts and 4 inch heels. Instead, we are embracing our age, status and experience and want to communicate—by our clothes and otherwise—that we still are fearless and want to be very much in the mix. So, we are continuing to dress up—maybe a little differently—because we feel better, and people treat us differently, when we do.
For older women, the images are better than they used to be. We like the images of women who still work at their chosen careers—Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, Lauren Hutton, Hillary Clinton to name a few. We also like the images of the vibrant purple-haired Walgreen ladies dancing it up at their reunion.
But for the most part and for us, the images show only a small part of our picture. What’s missing is the core of our image since the day we started our careers—and that is the love of what we do, the seriousness of purpose with which we approach our work, and the fun we have doing it. Retirement has not changed us. We continue to be energetic, passionate, creative, and collaborative with decades of experience under our belts ready to be put to good and different use. We need an image that reflects our accomplishments so we can make the most of the years ahead.