Be Polite. See Us As We Really Are.
Helen Mirren hates being offered a seat on the subway. So do we. That just started in the last couple of years. We are all in favor of politeness, but we expect people to be offered a seat only when they appear weary, or are disabled, or with child or dog or heavy bags.
But a person is not weary or disabled just because she is over 50. Indeed, the linked assumptions that over fifty equals old, and old equals incapacitated, are outdated and counterfactual. People of any age may be in need of a seat, but people over fifty who are vibrant and strong generally are not--especially if they are retired and have time to work out. And they actually know how to ride standing up, even when there is a cowboy at the controls, because they have done it for a long long time.
We read about Ms. Mirren's position on the issue in a thoughtful editorial published in Allure magazine. The magazine has decided to stop using the word "anti-aging," recognizing that it sends the message that aging is bad, when in fact only the lucky get to age. The editor calls on the beauty industry to follow Allure's lead.
We applaud Allure. Like the magazine, we recognize that not everything is better at 80 than at 20. But a lot of things are just fine, especially in the twenty first century, when women who are aging into their 60s, those who first broke into the work force en masse, are healthier than those of prior eras, have long lives ahead of them, and have definite ideas about how to live the rest of their long lives. Like they lived the first part--engaged and involved, full of vim and vigor.
And hint to the beauty industry: The fact that we are not falling apart does not mean we are not interested in beauty products. We want them and need them--not to look younger but to look our best. Not anti-aging. Rather, pro-aging. Give us products that highlight who we have become. And market them to us. Not to millennials--they don't need them yet. We do, to make it obvious we don't need a seat on the subway.
And all of you lovely young people who do offer us a seat, there are times when we really do need one. Like when we overdo it at the green market and look as if we need a mule to take us and our bags home. If you offer, we will gratefully accept. And we'll do the same for you.