August 1 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Ageing is a process our youth-obsessed culture is uncomfortable with – particularly when it comes to women.
Older women are conspicuously absent from adverts, magazines, television and movies, and consequently there is a lack of older role models.
In her book, The Year I Turn...A Quirky A-Z of Ageing, author Angela Neustatter, of Cross Street, Islington, gives us “chunks of thoughts” on a rite of passage we all dread.
She confesses that she was scared of turning 70, a landmark moment that took place last September.
She said: “It seemed too far to contemplate. My mum died much younger than that. Then I realised I was in my 60s and I was heading rapidly towards 70.
“Now I’m here, I have this self-acceptance. I’m able to cope much better with things that happen.”
However, she is aware that negative perceptions of old people widely exist in society.
“There’s a nice quote by author Amy Powell where she says ‘I feel I am increasingly punished for a crime I did not commit’.
“I think there’s a perception that older people are not wanted and people don’t like them.
“Fortunately, I don’t think that’s completely true. I’m lucky that my life puts me in touch with people of all ages who are open.”
Her book gives advice on a range of different physical issues people face with age such as appearance, health and hearing. It also deals with more emotional subject matters such as existential angst and contentment.
In her chapter on contentment, she writes: “I realise that the simplicity of the life that I have equals contentment...this letting go of believing I need to be catching every opportunity possible.”
This approach has helped her tackle regret, something she says is a huge issue for people when they get older.
She said: “I think it’s very easy to regret the things you have not done. I have accepted my life is what it is. If I look at people who have been more successful or have blissful- looking marriages, it’s easy to be discontent. I used to burn with envy and wish I had taken more opportunities.”
One of the things she confesses to having felt regret about when she was younger was her relationship with her partner.
“We were the most improbable match,” she admits. “He left school at 15 and was running a market stall when I met him in Holland, while I became a journalist. He’s working-class Dutch while I’m a faintly blue-blooded English woman.
“When we were younger I am ashamed to say I was embarrassed about my husband and worried about what people thought.
“Now, I have told my partner: ‘Let’s enjoy what we have together’.”
One of the expectations that older women face is dressing in a particular way.
However, Mrs Neustatter relishes dressing younger than her years.
She enjoys wearing leopard-print tights and does not think that she should dress in a way that’s expected.
“I think older women are all different,” she said. “I don’t think there should be these perceptions of how you should dress. I admire Joan Collins as she’s made a career out of being a glamour puss.
“I still wear little skirts, boots and tight cardigans. I’m not going to abandon that.”
She is also a big advocate of friendship – something she thinks becomes increasingly important with age.
She said: “Friends are one’s support system. It’s important to cherish one’s friends. One’s inner circle should be nurtured.”