The baby boomer generation is the first to challenge the perceptions of mid and older age. We certainly weren't going to be like our mothers, all beige and crimplene and blue rinses. But who then to look to as role models?
We are brought up with negative models of older women, and these childhood images of older women stick. I am still haunted by Bronte's mad Bertha in the attic, the bizarre actions of the Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly and the sheer unkindness of the endless mother-in-law jokes of the so-called 70's comedians. Hardly inspirational.
But in reality the middle aged women of my childhood were a force to be reckoned with. They gondola'd through the neighbourhood in their mud coloured gaberdines and leatherette shopping bags, doling out advice that was invariably heeded lest they find out otherwise. They didn't care what other people thought of them or how they appeared. The only time I ever heard the word "diet" was when they speculated in hushed tones whether Nellie would "die-at" th'ospital or at 'ome.
They were confident and respected. They certainly weren't invisible or appear worried as so many middle aged women claim to feel today.
Middle age is a time of great change in the lives of many women, children leaving home re-defining the role as a parent, relationships sometimes becoming tired (divorce is high in this age group). Women are still responsible for the majority of caring roles in society and personal dreams are often dashed or put on hold by the expectation that they will care for aging relatives.
However, this can also present an opportunity for re-inventing oneself. Post menopausal women often report increased energy levels and many over 50's women are starting their own businesses, carving out new careers for themselves once family responsibilities are out of the way.
I want to know about your experience! If you are in your 40's, 50's or 60's (or even a bit either side) please complete the following questionnaire. The results will inform a series of wall-hung textile collages which will be exhibited in August 2015, and hopefully, a short animation.
I look forward to hearing from you!
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