ARE OLD LADIES CUTE?

I’ve been thinking about something my friend Pam said. We were planning our annual trip to Green Bay, and I e-mailed her to say the Packers autograph session we’d wanted to attend was sold out.  Pam replied, “We could crash it and be on the front page of the Press-Gazette!  We are so old that people will say, ‘Aw, aren’t they cute!’”

I know Pam was kidding. And I don’t think we’re quite old enough to pull that off. But her response got me thinking: Are old ladies inherently cute?

Old enough to be cute?

Turning sixty-six, I’m into what some people call The Second Adulthood or The Third Stage of Life, so it’s time to decide whether I want to be cute. I’ve reinvented myself at numerous stages throughout my life. Now it may be time to choose my final persona.

The twins looked like miniatures of my grandmother, pictured here.

I admit that one of the cutest things I ever saw was a pair of old ladies in San Francisco, sometime around1985. They appeared to be identical twins and were probably in their eighties. Their carefully coiffed wigs and cats-eye glasses reminded me of my grandmother’s twenty years before. They were barely more than four-and-a-half feet tall and dressed exactly alike. Their veritable sameness, their outdated look, and their diminutive size (ooh, the tiny feet) made them undeniably … cute.  I wanted to take a photo, but I thought it rude to ask.

Alternatively, I find the bumbling beldames I see pictured on so many greeting cards today (“Isn’t it windy?” “No, it’s Thursday.” “I’ll have a drink.”) frightening, rather than cute. This portrayal demeans me, somehow.  I hope this isn’t my future.

No, no, I’m not ready to be cute. When I think of iconic women around my age, I don’t find them cute. Meryl Streep is not cute. Cher is not cute. Hillary Rodham Clinton is … Definitely. Not. Cute.

Goldie Hawn? Now she’s cute, but not in an old-lady way. I couldn’t do “cute” like Goldie in the Sixties, and I’m sure I couldn’t now.

I’m not sure I was cute even when I was a kid. My classmates were cute in their frilly party dresses. My parents, for the most part, eschewed the frills and dressed me up in miniature, blue or gray, tailored suits with pleated skirts. I hated those suits, but now it occurs to me that my folks might have been sending me a message. Don’t try to be cute. Try for … what? Dignified? Classy? When I was six, my skinned knees tended to spoil the image, but now … Yeah, maybe I can be dignified.

Or I could take my cue from a woman I’ve met through volunteer work. She so resembles an entirely different greeting-card heroine, in both looks and personality, that I’m hard pressed to call her Doris rather than Maxine. Salty … that’s a good word for her. I have a black sense of humor and (unlike Doris) a bit of a potty mouth. Maybe I can be salty. It’s got to be easier than dignified.

If you know me, personally or through my writing, tell me what you think. What fits me? Cute? Dignified? Salty? Another one I haven’t thought of?  And which personality would you pick for your Third Stage of Life? I’d like to know.

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22 thoughts on “ARE OLD LADIES CUTE?

  1. Salty is a great goal! Or how about just being the best version of yourself that you can be, at any age. “Awesome” is the word that comes to my mind when I think of Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren.

    • Helen Mirren IS awesome! I thought about mentioning her, but decided I’d already given enough examples. Don’t know if I can achieve “awesome,” but it’s an inspiring goal. Thanks!

  2. I often think of this in terms of my mother who is quite dignified and at times feels she is missing something because of it… I intend to go all salty… so much easier and seems a lot more fun without the embarrassment of being patronizing.

  3. While we are all inherently certain things, I like how you point out that we can choose how we portray ourselves. Cute seems like too much of a cover-up. How about “salt-ified?”

  4. First of all, I love, love, love — your blog. And what a great photo. I love my football too — just more on Saturdays, SEC style. And you have to do a follow up on old men. I’d love to add my two cents to that.

    • Jamie, that’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me. Thanks! I enjoy yours, too–not just saying that to be polite–loved the Dorothy Hamill post this week. Off to Wisconsin for this year’s version of the football trip–back later today to vote.

  5. I think it depends on the individual. I was waited on at a diner today by a tough cookie older woman. Older women can also be cute, brassy, fragile, ballsy. I think they’re all fabulous though. With age comes wisdom, experience and a certain amount of “Aw, eff it!” ;)

  6. In Japan, lots of old ladies (and I mean REALLY old, like 80s or 90s) dye their hair purple. I don’t think they do it on purpose, I asked my hairdresser, and didn’t entirely understand his answer, but I think it has something to do with the lack of pigmentation in the hair, so that black hair dye can’t stay black and fades to whatever tone it’s made from (blue or purple or green, usually). It could also be that they’re just old and don’t have anyone left to pressure them to conform to societal norms, so they do whatever the heck they want. Either way, I vote you dye your hair purple ;)

  7. I say whatever works for you. Salty sounds damn fine. I’m cute but I pity the fool who misinterprets what I mean by that. lol And I like old, and I’m in my second stage.

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