Ever since I was a little red-headed girl, I’ve dreamed of the time when I would be old enough to become a crazy, eccentric old lady. At the time, the television characters I related to the most were older, brassy women with distinctive styles and smart mouths.
Like Endora, Samantha’s mother on Bewitched. Her big red hair, wild eyeshadow, and colorful clothes have always made me want to be her! Her sharp tongue made her formidable and funny.
I also loved Bea Arther in the show Maude. She wasn’t terribly fashionable, but she absolutely made sure her voice was heard.
It’s not like I’ve restrained my sense of style - ever. I’ve never gone through what one would call a conservative or preppy phase. On the contrary, I’ve always curated my unique look, including my big, red, naturally curly hair. It’s hard to dim my crowning glory, so why not kick it up a notch?
Come to think of it; I’ve never been good at keeping my yap shut either. I’ve often gotten myself in trouble from things I’ve said. I have more than one person in my life that I think of as my “Diplomacy Coach,” and I try to consult with one of them before I say anything too foolish.
You may be asking yourself, “So, what’s going to change?”
As women get older, we often feel invisible. We have been led to believe that we should become more timid as we age, to act and dress appropriately for our age. Who made up that rule?
I’ve always loved the characters that have only gotten more opinionated and eccentric in how they present themselves to the world at a certain age. So that’s where I’m going. Rather than worrying about what people will think or say about me, I will live my life for myself.
I’ve been thinking more about how we present ourselves since I recently watched “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” on Prime. This inspiring story about a young man being true to himself and following through on dreams to live life on his terms made me think.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a young man who wants to wear a dress to prom or an older woman that wants to wear Care Bear tights – who cares! It hurts no one. But holding people back from who they indeed are, or may become, is harmful.
Having to pretend you are someone you are not, lacking the freedom to live authentically, hurts all of us. Shaming people into narrow confines based on preconceived biases keeps the world from that person’s brilliance. Imagine what unique gifts people have and aren’t allowed to use. What would the world be like if people were allowed to pursue their dreams?
No matter what society thinks, we don’t have to hold ourselves back from authentic self-expression. Here’s what I’m thinking:
You don’t have to ask for permission.
If you want mermaid hair color or to start wearing a bow tie, do it! You may get some looks and comments, but so what? We don’t care. You can do nearly anything you dare to do.
What may seem risky may not cause as much stir as we think it will. People may not even notice you’ve changed your style or are wearing a new hat, so keep trying until they do!
Don’t be afraid to let your true self shine through.
I want to see you for who you are, not who you think you should be. It’s a much happier way to live.
Dress for yourself.
Last fall, when we weren’t going out of the house, I started wearing whatever I wanted to wear for the day – whether it matched or not. I felt like a little kid picking out my wardrobe each day. If I wanted to wear something because it was cozy, convenient, or just made me happy, I did it. Now that I’m getting out of the house, I want to wear fancy clothes all the time. I will wear my tiara out of the house.
Listen for your beat.
I went to my friend Tabitha Oblinger Bean’s memorial service recently. The minister kept talking about how “quirky” Tab was. As her friend, I know that word doesn’t even begin to describe how this creative soul marched to her beat. Life around her was always an adventure, and you never knew what she’d say. This is what made her a joy to be around and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever known.
Let go of patriarchal ideals.
Most of us will never embody the body and image of a perfect woman. And that’s okay. It doesn’t matter what size you are, how many wrinkles you have, or any other ways you don’t fit into the cookie-cutter world of what women are “expected” to be. We come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and trying to be something we aren’t is a distraction from more important ways we could be spending our energy.
Don’t be silenced.
Getting older comes with the wisdom of brutal battles won. So don’t be afraid to share your ideas and thoughts when asked and even when you’re not.
Remember that we are mentors.
A good friend pointed out to me recently that as we get older, we are automatically mentors for younger women. We talked about the importance of setting an excellent example in all that we do publicly – especially if we’re public people. So, let’s show these whippersnappers an example of what it means to live authentically, embracing the fullness of who we are.
Let your freak flag fly!
Because We’re Never Finished
The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves; not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages, to learn from experts and each other, how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life.
To learn more about our classes
Phone: 316-841-8927 Email: email@example.com