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“That Age”

Nail Polish

It usually comes up over nail polish.

I’ll be at the salon with a female companion who’s a little older than me, a friend or family member, and we’ll be standing in front the rainbow wall of polish making our personal selections. Predictably, I’ll be attracted to the color-equivalent of a shiny object–neon pink, metallic silver, purple so dark that it’s almost black. I can’t help it, I love color. My companion will inevitably say something to the effect of, “Oooo! That’s super cute, but I’m too old to pull off something like that,” before choosing a nude or pale pink for herself.

“Too old.” I hate it when they say that.

I hate it for one because I don’t think any of the women that I’ve heard utter this phrase are too old for shit. These are smart, accomplished, talented women, and I don’t think there’s much in the fashion world that they couldn’t rock the shit out of. (Maybe rompers? Because frankly, I don’t think they look good on anyone.)

But I also hate that phrase because it implies that there is an age between mine and theirs at which I will become too old for things like neon pink nail polish and purple hair and floral Doc Martens. A moment at which I will have clocked enough trips around the sun that suddenly the things that make me “me” will look ridiculous and pathetic and I’ll have to let them go or risk looking like I’m trying too hard. I don’t know what “that age” is, or how I’ll know when it’s here.

But “that age” can go fuck itself.

I can’t stand the idea of “that age.” That at some point, I’ll have to conceal my expression of myself so that I fit into society’s preconceived notion about what a “lady of a certain age” (another expression that can eat shit and die) looks like. Why do we have to get more boring as we get older? Is society that uncomfortable with the idea of someone besides teenagers looking like they could be the sort of person that has fun? And for that matter, why are only teens and young adults allowed to express themselves with abandonment? Most teens and young 20-somethings haven’t experienced enough life to be interesting people, what could they possible have to express besides a collection of naive cliches? Personally, I think most of us get more kickass as we get older, so why should our outward expression be suppressed as our kickass-ness grows?

What I imagine (and hope) is actually happening is big ol’ fatty case of “correlation does not imply causation.” That there may come a point in my life when I stop feeling like my hair and my boots accurately match the person that I am inside. I hope it doesn’t but I’m willing to concede that it’s a thing that could possibly happen. After all, there was a “that age” when I stopped feeling that body glitter was a required accessory for all special occasions, and there was definitely a “that age” when I let go of my belief that ringer tees featuring an ironic cartoon character were the cornerstone of a woman’s wardrobe.

So it’s entirely possible to believe that I may one day let my current fashion choices go. If I decide to stop dying my hair crazy colors down the road because it’s too much work or I don’t like the way I look anymore or I just don’t feel like it represents who I am, that’s fine. Change is a necessary and beautiful part of life. But I never ever want to feel like that choice is being foisted upon me because I’m “too old.”

“Too old.” Fuck that noise.

I prefer to think of it as “too awesome.”


{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Karen May 7, 2016, 8:45 am

    Couldn’t agree more!! I hate the phrase, usually uttered by doctors, “at your age…..”; I gently persuaded (not so gently) one of my docs to never use that phrase when speaking to me!! Some fashion trends, i.e. bold nail polish for fingers, super high heels, super large earrings, I never wore when I was younger so I don’t wear them now. Didn’t like them on me then, don’t now…. But other stuff?? Still love my red/black/white polka dots rain boots, my tie dye Harley shirt, and my hot pink purses!! Items I will be wearing as I enter my twilight years enjoying my own particular fashion statement!!

  • Christine MacLellan May 8, 2016, 10:59 am

    I’m afraid I’m one of those ladies who has said she is “too old” to pull something off. I’ll think twice before thinking/saying that now. But I’ll never be too old for wild nail colors or the “not found in nature” (as my stylist says) shade of red I dye my hair.

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