Today on Twitter (25th June 2013) I got involved in a conversation with a number of people about appropriate or more worryingly inappropriate dress and tattoo adornment for older women. The implication in the original few comments seemed to be, in reference to tattoo’s; don’t get one where people might see as when you are older and have saggy skin it is ugly, and in reference to clothing, don’t dress like you are 25 when you are in your 40’s because it is unflattering. In addition there was also some comments that if you are a parent it is embarrassing for your children if you do either of these things. Sadly this is not the first time I have come across this type of thing, quite frankly I am greeted with it on a daily basis by much of the mainstream media, in particular the tabloid/gossip press that seem to be firmly of the belief that ‘sexy’ particularly in women, is the exclusive province of the under 30’s. However this attitude it is not exclusive to the media by any stretch of the imagination and what pains me the most is that it often seems to come from other women and even more frighteningly young women.
I am fully aware that my Mother thinks I am insane. She has never commented on my nose piercing that I only acquired at the age of 40, or either of my tattoo’s, acquired at ages 39 and 40, but I am fairly confident that she deeply disapproves of all of them, she has, however, on occasion commented on both my hair dye and most definitely on some of my clothing choices, most notably my hot-pants which elicited the comment ‘Do you go out at home dressed like that?’ along with a disapproving humph when I laughed and said ‘yes, all the time’. I know she is from a different generation to me, I am aware of her strong disapproval but she is my Mum and I do my best to just let it wash over me, but when I hear similar comments from young women (not directed at me but directed at women in general) I get cross. There is such a intolerance in it and an arrogance of youth that I detest. Yes we can all see you are young and beautiful, your breasts are perfect, your body is untouched by the wrecking ball that is pregnancy and childbirth, you have yet to form wrinkles on your forehead and around your eyes, you don’t look in the mirror and see the beginning of slight wattle beneath your chin, nor are you greeted with that, ever so slight dullness about your skin that starts to creep in as the elasticity starts to creep out, but trust me you will because what you have now is just a passing phase and one day you will be me, or your Mother, or your Grandmother but inside, beneath the packaging you will hopefully still feel like you are 25!
Feeling sexy, wanting to be sexy, wanting to express yourself with piercings, clothes and tattoo’s, that doesn’t go away you know? Oh I know for some people it does and for some they never have it in the first place but for others it doesn’t and you know what I say to that; Fucking yay for them, they have a life and a body and they are living it to its fullest and neither you, nor I should be casting judgement on them because of it.
I am not blind though. I see women (and men for that matter) out and about in outfits that make me pause and think “Hmmm, not sure that really suits you” or “Wow, I wonder if they know you can see straight through the skirt” etc etc but then I smile and I think you know what? As long as they like it, as long as wearing it makes them happy, or feel young, or sexy, or playful, or wicked or….. then good for them because there are way too many people in this world who are clearly not having fun or even more worryingly don’t know how to. Likewise if a women in her 70’s wants to get a tattoo on her arm, for all to see, why the hell she shouldn’t she, if that is what she wants. So what if her skin is old and wrinkly, does that exclude her from still enjoying her life and her body, how does this somehow offend your youth filled eyes?
So what of my roles as a parent? For some they believe that I should be sensible, demure maybe? Dressed like my Mother. Jeans are acceptable, hot-pants definitely are not….. tattoo’s should be covered, if present at all and as for the nose ring….
My children deserve better than that in my opinion. They deserve a truth. I want them to know that life doesn’t stop when you are 35 or 40 or 45 etc. That you don’t have to become an old man or women just because you are a parent. That you can still hope and dream and play and party. That you can live with power and grace and love and lust and everything else you damn well desire. That if you want to get a fucking tattoo when you are 65 the only thing stopping you might be how to get your pension money to stretch that far. I have tried my hardest to make my children see beyond the superficial, the colour of someone’s skin, their gender, orientation, beliefs, dress sense and their age. If I protect them from differences, if I fail to show them that life is for living to the absolute fullest and doing the things that make you happy as often as possible then in my opinion I will have failed them. As for embarrassing them, oh yes I do it often, and they groan at me and say “oh my God Mum do you have to” and you know that answer to that is… “Yes” because if I don’t teach them how to deal with being embarrassed then no fucker else is going to do it and if I don’t attempt to show them that being different, quirky, geeky, individual is OK then trust, me the world is absolutely 100% NOT going to do it for them either. Don’t get me wrong, it is not like I go out of my way to traumatise them, clearly that would be inappropriate in a whole other way, and I have always made sure that our conversations about things are age appropriate but they both know that I write adult content, they both know that includes photography, they will one day need to know and understand more and I am sure there will come a day when they wish it would go away but I hope by then I will have given them just enough gumption to face the doubter and judger’s head on and say… “Yep that’s my Mum, she is bonkers and embarrassing, what can you do eh?” and maybe when they are 40+ they will know that is OK to still be wacky, sexy, or whatever it is that makes them happy and feel alive because anything else is not living it is existing and I spent way to many years doing too much of the latter and nowhere near enough of the former to ever want that for them.
Before I continue and in doing so invite a sea of people commenting on this post telling me that this is not the attitude of all, I know that. I have lots of friends of all ages and I know many people don’t think like this but I also know that many do. I have seen it in their eyes, I have heard it in their comments and I have read it in their words time and again. Do not think I attribute this to all youth, or all women, or all people, or all media but if you are guilty of it then I am pointing at you.
Anyway, after the Twitter conversation of yesterday I decided to write this post and me being me that also included illustrating it and so I disappeared up stairs and had a rifle through my wardrobe in search of a, shall we say, youthful outfit. I could have chosen a fishnet dress or sexy lingerie but I wanted something I would actually go out to a local restaurant or pub in, something I might wear into London maybe on a night out with friends. When I returned downstairs my daughters said
“Why did you get changed Mummy?”
“Because I wanted too”
“You look pretty” she said
“You should paint your nails pink too”
“Another time maybe” I replied laughing
“Are you going somewhere?”
“Only into garden to take some pictures of myself”
And then she proudly showed me that she had gone to school wearing odd socks today
My son appeared shortly afterwards (he is 13)
“Where are you going?”
Why are you dressed like that then?
“Because I want to be”
“Humph… Your weird”
“I know, but so are you with your shorts barely clinging into your hips and those bright purple underpants on display but that’s OK”
With that he shot me a look that teenagers do when they are trying to be grumpy with you but are actually having to cover up a smile to do so and flumped off to his hovel of a room.
And I went into the garden with my camera, tripod and trigger and took these for you…
…and while I did I thought about what I had read today and how it had made me feel. I guess at 41 I should be behaving better, surely it is time to grow-up but I grew up when I was 25, way before I should have done, and it was a big mistake, one I don’t have to keep reliving every day just because I am no longer 25.
And if at times I embarrass my kids or dress in an outfit that was designed for a young girl to wear so what? As long as it makes me happy and I am having fun who cares?
Although I am fairly sure at 41 you are meant to have your big roll up panties on but I am sure you can decipher my feelings on that. I am only 41 for Christ sake I am not dead… yet!
So if you chose to judge me because I am not young any more but wear clothes that you think are not appropriate for a woman of my age, or flower pom-pom’s in my hair, or post naked pictures of myself on the internet or write about my kinky sex life, or have my nose pierced or my skin tattooed then I am sad for YOU because very very soon you will be me and then when are you going to do?
For me, I plan to continue on and live the rest of my life to its absolute fullest because as I said on Twitter very recently as a result of a friend’s death. Live your life today in a way that makes you happy because NO ONE, young, old or anywhere in between is ever guaranteed a tomorrow and when I am done here in this life I plan to arrive at the pearly gates (I don’t believe in heaven but still I like this idea) wearing a short skirt, no panties, a glass of wine in hand and some dried cum stuck to my chin and find the person who is in charge of handing out the smokes because in heaven no one cares if you smoke or not and age doesn’t mean anything.
I didn’t write this post to elicit your compliments on my appearance. Obviously if you wish to share them then that would be lovely but I wrote it because despite looking OK for my age I wanted to point out to people that when you talk about ‘women in their 40’s’ or ‘dress your age’ or make comments like ‘anyone would think she was 25 not 45′ etc etc you are talking about ME and all the other women who are my age and older and in doing so you disrespect us all, every single woman who went before you and every single one of you that will come after us.
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