Women over 40 don’t have sex, they don’t date and they don’t get married. They do become grandmas, bake cookies all day and give out hugs and don’t understand dating, fashion, and flirting and certainly don’t want to do any of that for themselves.
Okay, so those are pretty outdated stereotypes. But isn’t that what a lot of us thought growing up? And, isn’t there some part of your brain that still believes a small part of that or something similar? That a 25-year-old woman isn’t going to have anything in common with a 70-year-old woman? Right? Wrong.
Or so I discovered when I was in my twenties, that women in their seventies, for example, were just as concerned with fashion, romantic relationships and their looks. That maybe they hadn’t really changed all that much on the inside, even if the outside belied that thought.
“Oh yea, ” you say, “I know all about that. The widowed lady on our street has been seen in the company of men having coffee down at the town bakery. ”
That conjures up a certain image, doesn’t it? Gray hair wrapped in a bun, granny glasses, an old housedress, sensible shoes. But what if she had touched-up blonde hair spiked in a short, trendy style with a celebrity brand of sunglasses, was wearing fashionable hip hugging capri pants with a midriff top? What would you think of her now? Would she inspire you to be the best you can be at any age or would you think she was dressing too young?
What about the woman in-between? Maybe she’s not frumpy but not stylishly young either. After being widowed or divorced for a couple of years, what if she were to begin dating—not just one man but maybe two? What if she were your mother? Your sister? Your aunt? Or what about all the women who never married? Where do you put them?
I love fiction that you can learn from. Where characters have to look inside themselves, face the unpleasant parts about themselves or others but come out stronger. Or have interesting insights. Like the character, MJ, in Old Boyfriends by Rexanne Becnel, “People categorize you so that they can dismiss you. " How true.
I dislike categories, boundaries, boxes—in music, books, movies and especially boundaries around age and who and what we are as women. That's why I'm writing “Women's Fiction with Attitude"—fiction for and about women who defy simple descriptions.
So what kind of woman do you want to be when you grow up? Libby Gill of “Traveling Hopefully" says to imagine the type of woman you want to be when you're old. And then one day, when you look in the mirror, you will see her.
I know the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up because I’ve seen her. She’s got attitude, she’s got spunk, she’s got enthusiasm for life. She’s found her calling—and it’s probably more along the lines of scaling the highest peaks, deep-sea diving, or traveling the world, rather than baking cookies, baby-sitting grandkids and gardening. Maybe she has kids and grandkids but you wouldn't know it because her life is not defined by them. She can express that side of her but there's so much more to her. She’s taking that job transfer to Texas and learning how to 2-step or she’s gone off to Paris, Australia, or Hong Kong by herself or with some old friends. Or maybe she’s gone off with somebody new in Las Vegas, London or Montreal.
If she's afraid, you wouldn't know that either because she doesn't let fear stop her from taking that risk, to dare to be who she really is. Because the woman I've seen dares to live. And it doesn't hurt to have a little attitude. A little motto. Like what's inscribed on my coffee cup, “It's Hard To Be Humble When You're Fabulous!" And that's who I'm starting to see when I look in the mirror.
Kathy Holmes writes women's fiction with romantic comedy elements while raising an awareness for Women over 40 and Fatherless Daughters, http://www.kathyholmes.net , http://chicksover40.blogspot.com