Old is the new Black

On top of trying to keep up with what the Kids of the 90s and 00s consider ‘is in’…now it seems I’m having to catch up with what my parents and grandparents generation are doing.

Dion WarwickSo there is this new show. You might have heard of it or already binged on it (as I have). It’s called ‘Grace and Frankie’ found on Netflix. The picture below illustrates the main characters  (Grace played by Jane Fonda and Frankie played by Lily Tomlin) distraught after receiving news their husbands want a divorce so they can get married. So the show is comedic, yet manages to present a depth of emotions ranging from denial, anger, betrayal, forgiveness and acceptance.  What is unique about this show is the main storyline revolves around people in their 70s.

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix Original Series
Yes, it turns out for over a decade, their husbands who are law partners were having a secret affair.

A demographic that is extremely under-represented in the media and suffers ageism, has been given a platform to illustrate how dynamic people over 65 can be. This is a needed show as many people in our community suffer ageism. What is ageism? Age UK states that ageism is discrimination or unfair treatment based on a person’s age. It can impact on someone’s confidence, job prospects, financial situation and quality of life. It can also include the way that older people are represented in the media, which can have a wider impact on the public’s attitudes. There are numerous reports of work being harder to find for people who are deemed old in Hollywood and other industries. Many people as they age feel pressure to get plastic surgery, others suffer with eating disorders.

The difference to yoga-hippie Frankie and Corporate Grace illustrate the range to viewers of the everyday challenges and joys older people experience. The range of emotion in shows grips me every time and helps me understand more that its not just about offering someone older than myself my seat, its about engaging with them. In our society, many suffer from shame of asking for help, or shame of their appearance. Due to this, they withdraw. This was discussed on NPR Radio in more detail at the Ageing Conference.  However , there is awareness growing about our ageing population and media is slowly reflecting this by social media showing inspirational women that refuse to fit the granny stereotype.

E. Shephard Fitness Queen

‘Grace and Frankie’ illustrates that as one gets older, even at 70 life is still unpredictable and we all could do with a little support. The show brings to light what society sees as taboo topics, such as sexual intercourse and new challenges that come with it (Must See episode..had me laughing!). Grace and Frankie (the main characters) show a ‘devil may care’ spirit as they try every day to stay true to themselves.

China Machado

The show hones in that everyday is a new day, its not about what happened yesterday, its about what your going to do today.

Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington

So today, I spent the day searching for strong people over 60 who are breaking down our perspective of the elderly showing they are not out for the count. New terms such as GlamMa or GrandGal which refer to a woman who is over 50 or so (with or without grandchildren) with a sense of self and style.

GrandGal – Fired up and Ready to go

I also thought that I would share one of my absolute favourite blogs Advanced Style.  I think their presence in the media helps society feel less fearful about ageing and help us focus on the present being beautiful we can learn a thing or two from them about living for now. While glamorous elderly figures stand out, the unglamorous and aged in our communities are almost ignored or invisible. There has been recognition, as seen with the corporate world marketing more products to suit the elderly.

Equal Partners

However, more changes need to be taken, from the way we casually use language associated with ageing as a derogatory term to negative words describing people who are older that diminish their value.  Stopping the inter-generational split that occurs in the work place and in social spaces would be a great start. By creating norms for spaces where inter-generations can hang out would be a start. This is very common in other cultures. Yes, it would take patience but I think we all stand to gain so much more. Not saying every old person would be great to kick it with, but acknowledgement of one’s existence (old or young) is the least we all deserve.

Star Trek Beauty Nichelle Nichols

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