"I don't want to be 20, but I'm really freaking cool."
June 24, 2018 9:39 AM   Subscribe

"I flaunt it," said Lyn Slater, a professor, model, and blogger. "I'm not 20. I don't want to be 20, but I'm really freaking cool. That's what I think about when I'm posting a photo."

Her distinctive voice is part of a chorus of women who are taking on aging with audacity and riveting style. From all types of backgrounds, they're asserting their presence on Instagram, subverting notions of what "old" looks and feels like. And their followers are often younger women.

Baddie Winkle rocks a Tweety Bird bathing suit, among other things.

Jenny Kee: "If we are going to be in a nursing home, we’ll be there with our marijuana, our health foods and our great sense of style.”

Lili Hayes is permanently pissed off. Also she wore a hot dog costume at least once.

Dorrie Jacobson would like to remind you that there are no rules.

Werk, women.
posted by holborne (37 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
The NYT unhelpfully and inexplicably charactising these women as "grandmas" does rather emphasise how far we still have to go, sadly.
posted by howfar at 9:51 AM on June 24, 2018 [58 favorites]


These women are excellent. I am inspired. (And hell yes to not desperately longing to be 20 again!)
posted by Catseye at 9:56 AM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Baddie Winkle, previously. There are no rules.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:57 AM on June 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I love these pictures. They're all fabulous. I want Jenny Kee's outfit but I think she pulls it off better than I would.
posted by stillnocturnal at 9:57 AM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love to see people being happy with themselves.
posted by crush at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


I spent my 20s and early 30s using my looks as a commodity and have struggled a bit with my self image as I've gotten older. I have just followed all of these amazing women on IG as an antidote and inspiration.
posted by merriment at 10:28 AM on June 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


"If we are going to be in a nursing home, we’ll be there with our marijuana, our health foods and our great sense of style.”

This is the premise of the novel Jimi Hendrix Turns Eighty, published in 2007 but set in the early 2020s.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:54 AM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


“I’m not 20. I don’t want to be 20, but I’m really freaking cool. That’s what I think about when I’m posting a photo.”

Consumption-based narcissism as enlightened counterpoint to hating yourself for aging - about what I'd expect from NYT Style.

... political outliers like Ruth Bader Ginsburg

She's a Supreme Court Justice.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:59 AM on June 24, 2018 [38 favorites]


“If they were stylish in their youth, they will still be stylish now. They continue to be who they were.”

I daydream about being fashionable some day in the future when my life(style) can accommodate it - but I suspect I'll be 90 years old and still wearing jeans, a hoodie, and a faded t-shirt. I love anyone who doesn't compromise their own loves and enthusiasm (for anything) just because they've lived a while.

When I dye my hair funky colours, the biggest fans are little kids and older women who wistfully say that they wish they could do it. I've always been a little surprised by how many older women tell me that they still worried too much about what people would think - my plan, as I get into my later years, is to do my best to give less of a flying f than I already do (and that lack of caring already grows with each passing week, it seems).

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned with other people's perceptions throughout our lives, and I get that, but.. bleakly: we're all gonna' die some day. Might as well have some fun whenever it's possible.
posted by VioletU at 11:01 AM on June 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


Mod note: few comments removed, come on folks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'm quite young, and it's pretty obvious from my side of things that there's an awful lot of ageism going on.
So many of the general pieces of advice people give us young people are inherently based in these ideas that older people, especially older women, are less valuable? worthy? than us in a whole range of ways, attractiveness being at the fore.
It's pretty disgusting a lot of the time, regardless of whether people mean well.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:38 AM on June 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


My personal difficulty with the term, in this context, is that "grandma" defines a woman by her reproductive relationships, not her own identity. It seems a bit like calling any woman over 35 a "mom".
posted by howfar at 11:52 AM on June 24, 2018 [46 favorites]


Also a note on the recurring worry (expressed a bit here and a lot elsewhere) that your ultimate fate is to end up a sweet little blue-haired old lady knitting in a nursing home and that this must be fought against. I've worked in nursing homes and let me tell you, 90-year-old women are not to be messed with. Many hit some kind of "fuck THIS" threshold somewhere in their 80s.

Actual conversations I have had with sweet little blue-haired old ladies in nursing homes:
- men getting penis implants: y or n?
- what do you mean you have 'a' boyfriend, you young girls should not be settling down at your age, in fact maybe never? Get another five boyfriends and see how that goes;
- if Betty down the corridor has stolen my newspaper again I am going to kick her arse;
- I will have seven sugars in my tea if I want to, dear, I'm ninety-six;
- [from a 104-year-old ex-nun]: do that again and I'll spit in your eye.

To be fair they weren't on Instagram, but they'd probably have had a whale of time on Twitter.
posted by Catseye at 12:07 PM on June 24, 2018 [43 favorites]


As a woman of a certain age myself, my feelings about this are so mixed I can't really figure out how to express them. Advanced Style is absolutely not my cup of tea.

I do follow Linda Rodin because I like her style, but lately I've had a total girl crush on Viv Albertine who is 64 in the picture accompanying that article, but not really on Instagram.
posted by maggiemaggie at 12:11 PM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


My mom is in her late sixties and finally has some free time and fun money, and man, she’s HIP. Her broke-Mom-uniform had me rolling my eyes as a teenager but now I’m like DAAAMN MOMMA THOSE BOOTS ARE FLYYYYYYY!

She’s giving less and less of a shit every day. I love it.
posted by Grandysaur at 12:30 PM on June 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Consumption-based narcissism as enlightened counterpoint to hating yourself for aging - about what I'd expect from NYT Style.

I won't defend NYT Style, but the rest of the comment bothers me.

Having a sense of positive self worth is not the same as "narcissism". Choosing to express that self worth physically in care and interest in one's appearance in recognition of being a visible, social being is also not narcissistic by default as our controllable appearance is a form of communication.

That there is a consumption aspect tied to that doesn't make it any less meaningful on its face since "personal style" isn't a single form necessitating wealth to fit a defined ideal, but a way of making a more personal statement within the consumption we all make, assuming of course we wear clothing.

That some put more emphasis on "style" is no different than the many other consumer based interests people here have in itself or what it reflects. That some are not comfortable with personal style as a form of notice or communication doesn't negate the worth of those who do and can be as readily seen as an insecurity in those complaining as a vice in those who are comfortable with it.

I have no great sense of style myself, but I find the continual dismissal of those who do really uncomfortable especially since those dismissals tend to come most from the one group that need have least concern over their appearance due to their privilege. Fashion/style carries different sets of importance for most groups that aren't white cis men, which makes dismissing that from a perspective of it doesn't "really" matter or shouldn't hard to take sometimes. This isn't to say an interest in fashion is somehow without any faults, just that the all too frequent blanket dismissals of any interest in it often read as really shallow and self involved to me.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:49 PM on June 24, 2018 [70 favorites]


I have no great sense of style myself, but I find the continual dismissal of those who do really uncomfortable especially since those dismissals tend to come most from the one group that need have least concern over their appearance due to their privilege. Fashion/style carries different sets of importance for most groups that aren't white cis men, which makes dismissing that from a perspective of it doesn't "really" matter or shouldn't hard to take sometimes. This isn't to say an interest in fashion is somehow without any faults, just that the all too frequent blanket dismissals of any interest in it often read as really shallow and self involved to me.

I flagged this comment as fantastic, and I agree 100%. Of course, the belittling comment that kicked this off was from a man - quit being so frivolous, la-deez, with your silly girl stuff! I am nearing the age of the subjects of this article and I applaud them. Just like I applauded Nancy Pelosi's marathon House floor speech while wearing high heels - she has better feet than I, to be sure.

I applaud the women who refuse to become societal nonentities as they age. (Though sexual invisibility does have its privileges! I am glad that as I get older I'm not being treated so much like a public commodity.) I think the fear of nursing homes is separate from that of aging per se - this Metafilter FPP (content advisory for abuse) - being treated like a Dear Old Thing is exasperating, losing your autonomy and your rights is terrifying.

A terrific, wonderful book that I love and always recommend when it comes to the disparagement of all things feminine is by Julia Serano: Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. I don't think we can have full and equal rights for women until we stop disparaging things we code as "feminine" - including wanting to look nice and spend money on our appearance.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:24 PM on June 24, 2018 [19 favorites]


Despite, or maybe because, of my own ineptness around style, I've long been fascinated by how others make use of it. It helped that I worked in videostore catering to the LGBT crowd, lived in poorer areas of towns and cities, spent many lunch hours watching the various business people pass by while attending to how they look, lived near a nightclub where I could also make note on how different people used clothes to either fit base level expectation of acceptability or seek to surpass it and express something more. Paying attention to how it plays out online also is suggestive, just noting, for example, the highlighting of fashion in discussions about the NBA.

For some, notably white cis men, fitting in seems the more important concern, or beyond that something that if given too much concern, can hold them to ridicule, where for others it carries an entirely different message. There is so much signalling involved in all of it, some in-group, some to the larger community, that trying to define the importance of style/fashion along simple lines can't possibly cover it all.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:14 PM on June 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


LIFE GOALS
posted by loquacious at 2:41 PM on June 24, 2018


Ah boomers. Don’t ever change.

(Yes, I know you won’t)
posted by chavenet at 2:53 PM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that the article didn't mention Iris Apfel.
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:14 PM on June 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Thanks for posting this - when I read it this morning I went to the Advanced Style blog which had this post of wonderful images of what they’ve termed “Senior BFFs” - gorgeous.
posted by hilaryjade at 4:14 PM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm losing my edge
posted by Damienmce at 4:55 PM on June 24, 2018


Consumption-based narcissism as enlightened counterpoint to hating yourself for aging - about what I'd expect from NYT Style

Yeah, this also makes me pretty uncomfortable as a comment. You may not mean this, but tossing around the word narcissism on this context is belittling (both to people suffering from the actual personality disorder and to women asserting their right to be seen as they age). For a woman, feeling good and being visible as you age is a pretty radical thing. Dating sites, films, magazines all suggest we should retreat to sackcloth and ashes once we leave childbearing years behind us. I love it that these women are refusing.
posted by frumiousb at 6:41 PM on June 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


LIFE GOALS

I mean, relatively speaking, without the boomer exceptionalism, dumb grandma labeling and more fun weirdo technopagan.

I'm also deeeefinitely seeing a lot more male-presenting folks wearing more "obviously femme" clothes in the form of layers, colors, skirts and such, locally and in metro Seattle. There's a local beardy fellow that has some amazing taste that fit in with the FPP and he keeps doing this cool sort of pants-and-skirt-and-dress layering flowing thing.

posted by loquacious at 7:04 PM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sigh. I’ve has this conversation here before, and I don’t feel like wasting energy on it again, but here we are, so. As a woman nearing 60, god help me if I ever feel that I have to dress like clown in order to “be seen”, or to have worth as a woman/human being.

And now I’m going to bow out of this conversation, because I’m pretty tired - I've been up since 4:30 am, and just got back from the March to Tornillo, TX, where I and three of my 60+ friends were protesting in the 100°+ heat about the separation of immigrant families seeking asylum at the US border. (All of us were dressed in jeans and t-shirts, and none of us wasted any time worrying about whether or not we were “invisible”. We were too busy doing something visible.)

Personally, I get tired of the stereotype of the spunky grandma who dresses kooky, and/or has the “courage” to dress in high fashion. It’s an infantalizing stereotype, and it’s insulting. If that’s what these women want or feel they need to do, more power to them, but it’s certainly not anything I aspire to - to me it feels like a step backwards. But I’m sure someone will be sure to show up and tell me that I’m wrong, and that I should look up to these women and aspire to be like them.

Personally, I favorited ryanshepard’s comment hard.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:33 PM on June 24, 2018 [12 favorites]


To be clear, I’m not objecting to this post, I’m taking issue with those trying to shoot down ryanshepard’s comment, which I thought was spot on.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:51 PM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


It is possible to advocate for Let Everyone Dress How They Like, Older Women Shouldn't Have To Go High Fashion To Be Respected without dismissing fashion as "consumption-based narcissism". Literally nobody is arguing that All Older Women Must Dress Like These Ones.

That being said, the article itself certainly pushes the soulless commercial angle, putting emphasis on older women's "spending power", "earning capacity", and ability to "monetize".
posted by inconstant at 8:05 PM on June 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


Caring about the state of the world and caring about what you wear aren't mutually exclusive.
posted by virago at 8:14 PM on June 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


god help me if I ever feel that I have to dress like clown in order to “be seen”, or to have worth as a woman/human being

I heartily agree with this and it is exactly how I feel about the whole Advanced Style thing, but I also object to the idea of dismissing fashion as "consumption-based narcissism."

I have a lot of very stylish friends pushing 60, and none of them dress like the women featured in these over 60 fashion round-ups. They are doctors, professors, creative directors, film-makers etc., politically active as well, and they all care about fashion.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Well. I suppose “You simpletons go on with your clown outfits while I’m busy doing something important” is an interesting take on things, if nothing else.
posted by holborne at 8:48 PM on June 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


I just want to register another opinion that describing these women as "dressing like clowns" is insulting and dismissive.

For some of us AFAB people, the "learning not to give a shit about other people's opinions" takes the form of choosing functional garments with little or no ornamentation. For others of us, it takes the form of "I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn't match and doesn't suit me". (Personally, while I'm not fond of how that poem has been commercialized, I'm even less fond of people policing women in their red hats.)
posted by Lexica at 9:05 PM on June 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


Yeah, this also makes me pretty uncomfortable as a comment. You may not mean this, but tossing around the word narcissism on this context is belittling (both to people suffering from the actual personality disorder

"Narcissism" has a perfectly ordinary everday use in addition to a more technical use as a name for a personality disorder. The existence of the technical use doesn't invalidate the nontechnical use (from which the technical use in any case derives) and nontechnical usages don't thereby belittle those diagnosed with the disorder.
posted by kenko at 9:25 PM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution - Emma Goldman
posted by cron at 9:41 PM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nobody is telling you to look up or aspire to anybody. Scroll right on by and dress however you want! I think pretty literally the only thing I said is I find it questionable to call them narcissists for being interested in fashion. And kenko, thanks for that. I should have just said directly I found his usage of the term narcissism offensive to the women in the link.
posted by frumiousb at 11:05 PM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Personally, I get tired of the stereotype of the spunky grandma who dresses kooky, and/or has the “courage” to dress in high fashion. It’s an infantalizing stereotype, and it’s insulting. If that’s what these women want or feel they need to do, more power to them, but it’s certainly not anything I aspire to - to me it feels like a step backwards.

I think that is a perfectly legitimate sentiment, and if the discussion were to revolve around how fashion and aging gets reported, then I think we'd all be better off since there are some real issues in how those things are talked about, with NYT Style particularly often seeming to fumble the ball.

Differentiating between how fashion and aging is reported or discussed and how it is used and seen by different people is an important distinction to make, and one that MeFi hasn't been great on really. If ryanshepard only meant to call out the reporting with their comment, then I apologize for taking it the wrong way.

It's because conversations here about fashion so frequently trend towards negativity about those who care about it instead of being more about looking at the subject with any nuance that the comment made me edgy. My hope is that we can do better about conversing on the subjects here without casting aspersions on those who find meaning in differing manners.

I'm very interested in the subject, both from the sides of those who find value in fashion and in discussing it as well as those who find problems with how its reported on or otherwise captured by media. I think we can talk about both if we focus more intently on the areas of interest and concern rather than falling back on all encompassing generalizations that end up insulting others needlessly.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:14 PM on June 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm glad Metafilter is here to warn me not to RTFA. I just looked at the cool profile pictures and ended up following Lyn Slater as she was the only one whose style I could actually relate to. The other women look fun but I just thought "You do you!" and moved on.
posted by like_neon at 3:25 AM on June 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


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