Don't dress your age, don't look your age and other things I can't even!

Good cold November morning from Maine! I need to vent!

There is NO SHORTAGE of midlife bloggers, "gurus" and "experts" who want to tell women how to "deal with," "cover up" or "fix" wrinkles and things that droop (talking about women here). There are endless lists of "rules" about style for women over forty. We're supposed to forgo the confidence we've acquired in middle age when it comes to dressing and appearance and submit to endless Dos and Don'ts.
I've also come across midlife bloggers and articles, like this one, that deride the idea of middle-aged women being concerned about weight, as if it's simply some kind of superficial concern best left to the young and insecure. Attending to good, balanced nutrition and a healthy weight in middle age is subservient--to science! I want my heart to be one of my best-looking assets! That's my concern; not droopy eyelids.

Recently the New York Times ran the opinion piece Don't Dress Your Age. The author raised some good points, but what I did NOT agree with even a little is that we only have two choices: slavish obedience to societal dictates or letting ourselves go. 

Here's what I had to say:

Notice I wrote that I could care less, and that's true. I still sometimes feel insecure or, without really being aware of it, question if I'm too old to wear something, do something, say something, or simply put: Just be me!

I will be turning 49 next month. I don't look 30. I look like me. My age. The paradox is that the more I tend to my health and well-being the healthier I feel and look. Sometimes I think good health in midlife is mistaken for youth.

I don't see what I'm doing as metaphorically flipping the bird to the nonsense (I should cut my hair short, get highlights and cover the gray, wear animal prints, stop maintaining a healthy-to-me weight) although I sometimes do that, too. It's about learning to not even check in with someone or something else for approval or permission. It's a process but it's so liberating!
Having said that, I do love my new comfortable old lady shoes! As you can see, I also wear Docs and I'm sure other age inappropriate things!


  1. Good autumn morning to you, Averyl! I have been reading your blog - mostly starting with the current and working my way back - and so enjoy the trip down memory lane. :-) My grandmother had the identical formica dining table, but in sunny yellow instead of the lovely turquoise you have. I've enjoyed your book, too.

    While I enjoy the reading of the past lifestyles that are probably superior to the way the vast majority live today, I think I enjoy more your attitude toward aging, which is very similar to mine. I am 52, and I don't feel it. For some reason, my hair has turned white (not totally yet, but a lot of it is) faster than anyone in my family. I decided to roll with it and not get caught in the never-ending cycle of dying and touch-ups. I don't blame women for doing so, but it just isn't me. One thing I do really love about aging is being myself and not worrying about others' opinions. Even though I am divorced (no kids), I don't feel compelled to find another husband...not opposed to it, just don't feel an urgency.

    As for health and weight issues, your views on personal accountability and responsibility are spot on. I lost about 50 lbs in my early 20s and have kept it off. I had to embrace the reality that I just can't eat much, so now it just isn't a big deal. I look forward to trying some of your recipes, as they look delicious.

    As a final comment, I would like to say how much I admire your photography, especially the shots of your trips to parks or other outdoor locations. You live in such a beautiful state! And you are quite a talented photographer.

    Take care and all the best. Please keep writing your interesting, inspiring and entertaining posts.


    1. Good morning, K! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog archives and my book!

      Sounds like you have a great attitude and approach to taking care of yourself. Like you I understand why some women choose (and truly so without it being some sort of defeat or deference. My 100 year old Nana still colors her hair) to cover their gray.

      Losing and keeping off fifty pounds for thirty years is a stellar accomplishment! Seems that once we can accept certain realities about ourselves it becomes easier to make peace with them and take the next steps, sometimes for a lifetime.

      THANK YOU for your lovely compliments and support! I'm glad you'll continue reading. :)

  2. Hi Averyl, I love this blog from you. I'm not middle age yet (I will be 33 in a few months) but I feel pressured to look a certain way or be that trophy wife for my husband. I am overweight which I'm working on but I also have several sparkly greys which I no longer see the need to color and I also wear what I like whether it's in style or not. I call it being unapologetically me. I just want to make me happy. Love those shoes by the way!

    1. Good for you! I was very insecure in my early 30s. Thanks re my shoes!

  3. Another wonderful and thoughtful entry, Averyl! I turn 63 next month (we share December birthdays!), and I often turn to your wonderful book to remind myself that there are no age limits for maintaining a healthy weight and attitude! In fact, at this moment, I happen to be recovering from a facelift that I just had last week, something I didn't enter into lightly, and something that my husband and I researched and discussed at length... and he gave me his blessing. In fact, he may have some work done himself! There was an article recently in the Washington Post titled "60 is the new 30". I don't know if I'd go that far, but you are truly only as young or old as you feel and as well as you maintain yourself. I know you will be an awesome 50 year old...enjoy the decade!

    1. I love that my book is a healthy reminder for you! When you write a book you never know how it will impact people if at all so thanks for letting me know, Lois.

      I know of many people personally who have had "work" done and it has been a positive experience for them. There was a great quote from Jack LaLanne in one of my old books, the gist of which was go ahead and get work done if it makes you happy but don't use it as a means to cover up poor health because it'll never work. Sounds like you base your decisions on self-care and love, not shame. I applaud you! I wish you a comfortable and speedy healing.

      Thank you and too bad you're not local--I'd bake us a birthday cake!

  4. Oh, how lovely! I'd love to share a December birthday cake with you...gluten-free, of course! People often think we December babies get short-changed, but I think the opposite is true. It's a festive and joyous time of year to celebrate our being! :-)

  5. great comment and post! love the way you think!!!!! :)

  6. I will be 59 this month. All of the women in my family color their hair and dress well. Not "old" and not too "young" either. Stylish, I guess you could say. I think I mentioned before that I used to color my hair when I was young but I am now embracing my gray/silver streaks. The "dress well" part, well, it somehow skipped me in the family, ha! For myself, I don't want to dress too young, whatever that is, but I know it's different for each of us. You have such a healthy attitude, Averyl, and it's very inspiring!

    1. You do NOT look 59! I'm glad my little "vent" inspired you!!


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