In a recent conversation, someone ( male in his 40s) described Madonna as being ‘the wrong side of 50’. I immediately asked them what they considered the ‘right side of 50’ to be. No answer was forthcoming, especially when I pointed out that at 52 I personally did not consider myself to be the wrong side of anything, except perhaps the table where I might have given them a playful thump for making the comment!
Is there a right or wrong side to any age?
It did occur to me that with attitudes describing anyone as being the wrong side of 50 we still have a long way to go to combat ageism – especially when it comes to describing women. How often do we hear male stars such as George Clooney or Sting being referred to as being the ‘wrong side of 50’? How often do we hear the ages of male stars being commented on at all?
We need to eradicate the notion that ageing is wrong. In fact we need to celebrate ageing and recognise that ageing is a privilege denied to many.
I was speaking with Larke Riemer, a high profile Australian business woman in her 60s who’s career is still flying high. Larke says that she feels valued and appreciated in her role. She believes that more companies should be trying to recruit and ‘hang on’ to mature female workers. We have a wealth of skills, experience and knowledge to bring to the workplace, without the distraction often created by bringing up a young family. There is an argument for saying that there is a right side of 50 in terms of women offering flexibility to potential employers.
When it comes to our appearance, we are judged on whether we look as though we are on the right or wrong side of a specific age. With an ageing population attitudes have to change.
I believe there is always a right side to being 50, with the wrong side only being present in the minds of the small minded, who will hopefully change their minds long before celebrating their own half century!