Is “Age-Appropriate” An Outdated Concept?Sonya Benham
A very pregnant coworker and I were talking the other day about how the baby would change her life. “I was wondering if I should change my style,” she mused. Wait a minute… what??? I found this surprising to say the least. She is still in her 20s, has an adorable flirty short haircut and I find her makeup and clothing to be sassy but age-appropriate.
I, on the other hand, was wearing a sleeveless dress from Forever21 and orange lipstick at the time of said comment. I am also 40.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, got a lot of criticism last month for an article that was published in the Atlantic on looking younger at 45. She cited an inability to grow up, along with the decision to not get married or have children, as part of how she stays looking young. While I agree that a lot of her advice is not particularly useful, I think I understand the sentiment.
Don’t hate me. Believe me, I’m not saying I think you shouldn’t have had kids or that you should have done drugs and been promiscuous. But maybe staying in touch with a younger version of yourself isn’t a bad thing. In many ways, I refuse to grow up. I wear short skirts, I chalk my hair on occasion, I prefer bright lipsticks, and I wear eyeliner in cat-eye fashion.
Maybe some people may find my personal style unfitting for a 40-year-old mother. I’m at an awkward age when people may think I’m trying too hard. But the truth is, I’m just being me. There is nothing wrong with becoming more conservative as we age, but I think people should rock whatever they feel comfortable in. I can’t see why I should force myself into a mold or pantsuit — that doesn’t feel right.
In a recent article in Allure on aging, Fashion Designer Michael Kors admitted that the rules have changed: “Now that everyone looks like she’s 30, it’s not easy to define rules for how women should dress at different ages.” My celebrity peers are definitely breaking the stereotypes. 40-year-old mom Gwyneth Paltrow looked amazing at the Iron Man 3 Premiere in Los Angeles last month in a hip-barring, see-through Antonio Berardi dress. (See above.)
What do you think? Am I off-base? When you sign up for motherhood do you give away your right to bright coral lipstick or a purple streak in your hair? When you turn forty should you opt for the maxi dress over the mini? Is nail art off limits? I’m really curious to know how others feel about this. Sure there are limits but overall I don’t buy into the notion of “too old for…” Honestly, I can’t wait until I’m finally at the age when I’m just considered eccentric.
- Pergament, Danielle.”Michael Kors’s Fashion Principles.” Allure, April 2013.
- Wurtzel, Elizabeth. “I Refuse To Be a Grownup.” The Atlantic, 11 April 2013.
- Marcotte, Amanda. “Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Beauty Tips Leave Much To Be Desired.” Slate, 12 April 2013.