Monday, January 11, 2010

Seven Myths About Women Over 50


The co-authors of Saving the Best For Last: Creating Our Lives After 50 really do believe that this is the best part of their lives. They want to dispel some of the myths people have about women over 50. There are lots of them, but they have chosen the top seven to write about.

We three women over fifty decided some years ago to change the conversation about aging and dispel myths about women over fifty. These myths may have had validity when none of us humans lived much past age fifty or sixty. Remember our grandmothers? They looked old at forty. They wore housedresses and sturdy shoes. Their lives were all about raising their children, and when that was done it seemed that at least in society’s eyes, their lives were done.

Today we women over fifty have changed considerably. Our average life span is eighty-plus years. We are out in the world, making art, saving villages, improving our communities, keeping up with runway fashions, and living our lives. Yet somehow, myths remain. Here are the ones we keep encountering..

1. Women over fifty don’t care what they look like.

Since two out of the three of us are planning to have our next round of cosmetic surgery, we take exception to this. We now remember with fondness that construction workers used to give us wolf-whistles. We thought it obnoxious then. We miss it now. Women like us drag ourselves to the gym, where we get to compete with twenty-somethings for parking spaces and treadmills. We take Yoga and Pilates, go on diets, run marathons, go on diets, dye our hair, go on diets, get contact lenses, go on diets. We care. A lot.

2. Women over fifty don’t like sex.

Since one of the three of us is married, this is a touchy subject. The answer is, just let a healthy, willing, attractive male show up in our vicinity and we will be ready. Or, if even two out of three of those categories show up, we will be ready. Actually, “willing” might make up for any other shortfalls, depending on how long it’s been. And just think, since we can’t get pregnant, we can just zip past the pregnancy prevention shelf at the drug store.

3.  Women over fifty find menopause terrible and debilitating.

YES! Menopause is TERRIBLE and DEBILITATING. It ruins our lives. It is the worst thing that has ever been invented in the history of the universe. It is worse than diet ice cream. OK, now that we have acknowledged that, can we please move on? The fact is that two of us didn’t even notice menopause, except that we could also zip right past the sanitary products shelf too. So, menopause exists and we’ll have it for awhile, and then we’ll get over it.

4. Women over fifty can’t keep up with the times.

Interesting, since women over fifty are the fastest growing group on Facebook. We three have six computers among us. We have and use PDAs, GPSs, and iPods. We have almost outgrown email, and are Facebooking and twittering. And let’s face it: Without us, a lot of the Help Lines would go out of business. We may have grown up in the Stone Age, but we have managed to survive into the computer age.

5. Women over fifty miss our children and only want to be with our grandchildren.

We love and adore our children. We love and adore our grandchildren. That’s the only acceptable answer, isn’t it, since this will be in print? We love them the most when they don’t ask us to baby sit too much. But seriously, we can love them and still want a life. That’s the bottom line.

6. Women over fifty fear change.

That’s really funny, since virtually everything about us is changing. Body parts are moving to different locations or vacating entirely. Hair is now appearing in places it never was and disappearing from places it used to be. We could go on and on. So, we say we don’t fear change. We are, and have been, the movers and shakers of our lives. Go to any art class and see who is involved in creative pursuit. Go to yoga or meditation classes to see the same. Look at the women starting new careers, or the ones running for office. Check out writing classes, art appreciation classes, cooking classes. Look at who is doing work in developing countries, starting foundations, traveling the world, raising money for causes, marching for causes. Change? Bring it on! We are well-practiced, and good at it.

7. Women over fifty are counting the days until retirement.

We agree with this statement. No matter how much we love our careers, we are chomping at the bit to have the time to travel, to explore, to start new businesses, to enroll in college, to volunteer, to write books, to inspire our daughters’ and granddaughters’ generations with the unlimited possibility we have. We can’t wait to retire so we can see what’s next. We have lived only the first half of our lives and are anxious to see what we will create in the second half.

So, let us bury the useless, outworn myths along with all other outmoded notions of who we women are and what we are up to in our lives. We are here. We’re living, laughing, and loving, and planning to be so for the next fifty years.


Renee Fisher is a former special ed teacher, now a realtor in Northern Virginia and the DC Boomer Humor columnist for She lives in Arlington, VA. Joyce Kramer is a former English teacher, now an international HIV/AIDs consultant. She lives on Anna Maria Island, FL. Jean Peelen is a retired civil rights attorney, now an actress and model. She lives on Anna Maria Island, FL

All three are the authors of Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50 and of Saving the Best For Last: Creating Our Lives after 50. Their new book was published in April 2009. In addition to writing books, they speak to women’s groups and organizations, conduct workshops, write magazine articles and thoroughly enjoy their lives.

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