It seems appropriate to dedicate a blog to women ahead of International Women’s day and, of course, to all Hags out there! International Women’s Day has been celebrated for well over a century with the first gathering held in 1911 and the theme for this year is to choose a challenge.
My invitation to all Hags is therefore to challenge yourself to become role models for the next generation of older women. The endeavours of older women so often go unnoticed and are possibly even taken for granted. That includes women who humbly and in a self-effacing way do not recognise that they are often the glue that holds their families and communities together.
Women often do not expect nor receive the recognition they deserve. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of role models as we get older. This is not because there are no older women who achieve or have achieved great things, but because nor they nor their achievements are celebrated.
At some stage older women are ‘encouraged’ to step down and make way for a younger replacement. As an example, I can think of a number of vibrant and experienced older women that have disappeared from our television screens and various radio programmes in the U.K. in recent times.
History is peppered with older men and women who go on to achieve their best works in later life. A number of artists come to mind such as Michael Angelo and Picasso. Whether you are a Royalist or not, we have to acknowledge and give recognition to Queen Elizabeth for carrying out her duties with single-minded dedication and without wavering for so many years.
The research for my book, H.A.G.S. with Attitude: A philosophy for aging, brought me in contact with so many role models of what it is like to age with vigour and a passion for life. We will all have our own list of women we see as role models and I also want to encourage each and every one of you to recognise that you too are a role model for the younger generation.
I want to single out one particular woman I believe to be a great inspiration to all of us. She is Tricia Cusden of Look Fabulous Forever. At 65, when most of us seriously consider retirement, she started her makeup company specifically for older women.
Despite being ridiculed and told there was not a market for her products, she silenced all the critics and now at 73, together with her two daughters, run a very successful company who sells their products throughout the world. Furthermore, she has no intention of retiring just yet.
However, business is not the only field of endeavour where we can find role models to inspire us. I was particularly touched by the achievements of another woman, namely Susan Boyle. She has gone from strength to strength with a string of achievements under her belt.
Growing up she never wavered in her passion for singing despite having her own share of challenges in life, including being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Now at nearly 60 she has expressed an interest in pursuing the necessary training to turn her hand to opera. What a wonderful role model for all of us who downplay or undervalue the opportunity to realise our dreams.
I am a passionate believer that each one of us owe it to the next generation to challenge the erroneous assumptions about life as we get older and to be role models of the lived experience of many older women. I therefore encourage you to take up the theme of selecting a challenge and step up to become a role model for the next generation.