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I blog about sustainable fashion, earth-friendly fibers like hemp and Tencel, capsule wardrobes, travel wear, and related subjects.
It’s official. Mature women are now a big deal. Wherever you look, politics, the arts, sciences, technology, education: older women aren’t merely becoming visible, they are taking leadership roles. A recent New York Times story name checks some of those women who have vaulted into prominent places in their professions. They include obvious candidates such as actor Glenn Close, politicians Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi, and the newly named CBS News chief, Susan Zirinsky.
But as we’re keenly aware, despite this trend, things are not always sunshine and roses. In January, 2019, the New York Times also published a piece by clinical psychologist Mary Pipher titled "The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s” in which she celebrates the coming of maturity and its advantages. Resilience, gratitude, humility — they all contribute to our happiness. But Pipher is a realist too. As she notes, "We all suffer, but not all of us grow. Those of us who grow do so by developing our moral imaginations and expanding our carrying capacities for pain and bliss. In fact, this pendulum between joy and despair is what makes old age catalytic for spiritual and emotional growth.”
When Pipher told her older friends she was writing a book about women and aging, they immediately responded, “I’m not old.” These women weren’t in denial about aging, but rather, they were refusing the stereotypes our culture would impose on them. Pipher maintains our view of old women is so negative no one will admit to being old. She says that ageism, rather than aging, poses the biggest challenge for older women.
I find this same phenomenon is true in my own life and those of the mature women I know. We’re unwilling to be dismissed as irrelevant by the old-woman stereotype. We’re artists and craftspeople and writers and entrepreneurs and educators and scientists with lifetimes of experience. If there’s a quality we share, it is a growing ability to love and appreciate. That’s what living a long while does: it rounds off our edginess, it resets our expectations, it makes happiness more possible and sadness more bearable. That’s why I’m thankful to count such women as friends and colleagues (and why I decided to share a few snapshots of them here.)
March is Women's History Month, a celebration and study of the historical contributions of women in the United States. We also celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8; the theme for 2019’s events is #BalanceforBetter as women continue to assert their rights to education, autonomy, and recognition. And thanks to their demands, there's progress being made the world over in achieving equality. It’s also encouraging to witness the many publications and blogs that have sprung up in the realms of beauty and fashion that no longer kick older women to the curb. Models who are 40-plus are no longer a curiosity. Glitzy fashion mags like Renaissance feature only older models these days.
On a more local level, I’m proud and inspired by the women I know who are taking this movement forward. They’re politically and socially savvy and consider the empowerment of women a pivotal step in creating a more just and gender-balanced world for our children and grandchildren. I hope you’ll join me in sharing and participating in this month's celebrations and that you too will be or are a part of the new cool 70!
Got a story to share about the empowerment of women? Drop me an email or join the conversation, below.
I’m thankful for Thanksgiving itself. Every year it serves as a reminder that gratitude as a regular practice can help us ride out the storms that can otherwise overwhelm us at times. As you’ve doubtlessly read, medical people rank gratitude highly as a means of improving and maintaining our health. And on a strictly [...]
Guest post by Jennifer Scott of Beautifully AliveLadies, let’s get something straight today: we all know it’s a tough and judgmental world out there. As far back in history as we learn about from the textbooks in school, women have been taught to decorate their bodies and faces with clothing, makeup, and jewelry. It has been instilled in us as a [...]
Lots of you tell me you take your Sympatico wear along when you travel. I’d love to hear (and see) more about how it worked for you. Where did you go? What styles did you wear? How did your Sympatico items travel? Got any packing tips? In telling your Travel Tale, feel free to color [...]
When I recently put out a call for Sympatico fans’ travel tales (and photos) for publication here, I didn’t know that I had Edith Vermiji in mind. But in reading her submission, I realized she’s emblematic of so many women who visit my booth at craft fairs. Smart, educated, engaged in interesting work, and widely [...]
I had the honor of attending the birth of my second grandchild this week, a girl named Shasta. Though I live almost a 6-hour drive from my son and his family, I booked a room nearby for the due date plus a few days after. My daughter is a trained photographer and came along to [...]
In a time when there's been a lot of (perhaps justified) talk about how bad things are, it's really nice to turn my attention to Thanksgiving! My daughter's visiting for a few weeks from out of town, and she and I started the holiday off helping deliver boxes of food to needy families in our [...]
Madeleine Vionnet: If the name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re not alone. Though less well known, her work has influenced designers such as John Galliano, Issey Miyake, Azzadine Alaia, among others.A reading of her biography reveals a woman who remained true to her own vision. Born in Loiret, France in 1876, Madeleine Vionnet was married [...]
Guest post by Willow Paule at Willow Paule Photography. This article is one of a series on creative process. Willow posts about creativity, unusual jobs and travel. Rose Gerstner is a clothing designer and small business owner and also my mother! I sat down to ask her a few questions.How does your creativity manifest itself? I get [...]