Old Age: The Doddery vs The Dazzling

by Kerry Cue

sibylesque Iris Apfel quote

The doddery Old Age stereotype versus dynamic new old Agers was dramatically apparent in The Australian Weekend Review, (22 Aug 2015. There is a paywall but you can see the cartoon here.) Deidre Macken wrote a thoughtful and lively article about older women, which left anyone over the age of 60 feeling foot-tappin’ good about getting old.
Iris Apfel Fashion Icon 93

Primarily, Macken paid homage to Iris Apfel a New York fashion icon at 93, who is the star of a documentary titled simply Iris (below).

Macken also captured the dynamic zeitgeist of aging for a new generation of women.

‘Finally relieved of kids, parents’ stuff, jobs and sometimes partners, women of the first youth generation are in the mood for breaking out again.’ Too true.

But the cartoon accompanying Macken’s intelligent piece dished up the same old shriveled-cold-tripe imagery we mature age readers are fed daily namely a sketch of three doddery oldies on walking frames. The cartoon had nothing to do with the article theme. Even if we see old women bush walking, riding bikes and pumping more iron than that cartoonist (Jon Kudelka. Google him), we are still surrounded with these negative stereotypes. But as Macken noted:

‘You’re only old once.’ And we are not about to beige up and fade away.

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 We, THE SIBYLS, declare Deidre Macken an Honorary Sibyl for her insightful writing, her independent thinking and her intelligent reporting on the lives of vibrant older women.

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Deirdre Macken

Deirdre Macken

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Best known as a journalist and columnist, Deirdre Macken wrote on business and marketing for The Australian 1975-1979, worked for The Age 1979-1987 and was a senior writer on The Sydney Morning Herald and its Good Weekend from 1987-1999. She is currently a columnist and senior writer for The Australian.

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Photo source: Film Website

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These are the best years of your life. What? Middle school? That’s it!

The Sibyls

Radical Age quote

We Sibyls are concerned with the impact negative attitudes to aging have on our health. Toxic stereotypes of ‘the little old lady’ are prevalent in the medical world, At my age doctor John Glen was an astronaut, in the media, If you think you are old guess what? You are aging fast and in our own conversations, Why you should avoid geriatric talk.

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Sometimes, however, we don’t realise just how ingrained these attitudes are in the culture. In this fascinating lecture Sheila Roher, founder of Radical Age Lab, University of Columbia, asks the audience ‘how many of you were told when you were a child or a teenager that these are the best years of your life?’. ‘That’s a terrifiying statement!’ exclaims Roher. ‘Like I peaked at nine … middle school is it?’

Watch the video for some profound philosophical thinking on aging.

You will find more discussion on this topic at Radical Age Movement Blog.

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Some Grandmas really are Wild Things!

by Honey Clarke

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You can retire from a job, but don’t ever retire from making extremely meaningful contributions in life.purple quote 2

…………………………………………………………..Stephen Covey, Author

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Illustration by Honey Clarke from her book 'My grandma is a Wild Thing'.

Illustration by Honey Clarke from her book ‘My grandma is a Wild Thing’

Australia has been perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes ever since Chips Rafferty came to the screen. His nasal drawl and odd sayings use to make our skin crawl. “We’re nothing like that!” we’d scream. Yet in any movie about Australia, he’d ride on in. Despite what we know to be true, Australians still willingly go with the stereotypes offered. Don’t think so? Just watch how quickly you can become invisible in the workplace, now you’re a woman of “a certain age”.

Grandma Swims by HOney Clarke

Grandma Swims by HOney Clarke

Lately Politicians are hinting that an ageing population is “becoming a significant issue” like Lyssavirus or finding you’d grown a third eye. The Bureau of Statistics gives projections of data pregnant with doom. What none acknowledge is the contribution the ageing give to our country.

 This theme has been a thread in my own work. My friend Marn breaks all the stereotypes and helped inspire my book “My Grandma is a Wild Thing” because she played drums, rode a motorbike and swung from a jungle gym to pose for my drawings. What’s more Marn speaks “Kid” in all its forms – eloquently and with love. She’s a dynamic part of work and family. Yet stereotypes of aging persist.

The Chooks  by Honey Clarke

The Chooks
by Honey Clarke

I hatched “The Chook* Book of Wisdom” when a farmer friend was about to go home and dispose of his chooks. The problem? They’d stopped laying. Was he crazy? They were just menopausal – they had heaps of good years. He thought it a hoot. The chooks were saved. Let’s hope we are too.

Australia has to get over the idea that passive earners don’t contribute. Let’s show our currency. Dare to be different. Grasp every opportunity to contribute to the quality of our own lives and in so doing, contribute to the quality of others too.

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Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke lives on the side of a mountain in an extinct crater lake with her partner, the Rock Doctor. She’s an artist, writer and teacher who encapsulates the essence of life in the quick strokes of paint or pen. Honey has two grown up kids and seven grandchildren. She is part-owner in a bamboo farm. She would like to say her hobbies are kite-surfing and abseiling but that would be a lie. Instead she reads, swims, travels, paints and blogs as much as possible. Honey’s blog is Honeyclarkeart. To inquire about Honey Clarke’s art, books or illustraoins contact her at: honeyclarkeartATgmail.com

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

 

The charity that she and the Rock Doctor champion is St Judes in Tanzania, a brilliant school educating kids out of poverty.

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Photo Source: Honey Clarke’s Blog and St Jude’s Website.

*Chook is an Aussie colloquialism for a chicken.

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