And Other Total Crap
My Pixel phone figured out how old I am.
A few weeks ago, it suddenly began sending me ads about cemetery plots. My personal data are fed into the algorithms that drive advertisements — whoever programmed the algorithms think funerary arrangements are click bait for 57-year-olds.
Clearly these people aren’t anywhere near 50. And they can’t possibly know that the women in my family live to their 90s. My great-grandmother was 97 when she died, my grandmother was 94 upon her death, and my mother is currently going strong at 86.
I guarantee you, Google, I am not thinking about my own funeral. I don’t care in the least about it. My mother has always said she hopes she dies in the forest and decomposes under a tree, fodder for whatever animal might be hungry. I was a teenager when I first heard this idea, and frankly, it weirded me out.
Now, though, I understand it completely. Death, the closer it gets, no longer holds the same sting.
Google’s wisdom also sent me a link to an article called How To Dress 10 Years Younger. I have next to zero interest in this, but I was curious what the young woman who wrote this article wished to impart to those who surpass her in experience and years.
As I read the smug words of someone who believes they have the answers for an entire age group, I truly wished I could ask the author a few questions. First, why does she think that I wish to look younger than I am?
I don’t care to attempt to gain the approval of others by hiding my truth. I’m busy doing real things like fixing up the boat I bought to live on. And I wear old ratty clothes while I do it.
Here’s the truth: Most older people dress like older people because we are not in the least bit ashamed of our age. We do not wish to appear young because we are proud of who we are and the experiences we’ve had.
The fashion industry understands the younger generation very well. There’s that need to fit in, to be seen as important, to appear savvy and in the loop. This need to feel good about oneself by garnering external approval fuels a desire for the latest fashions. I know. I used to be like that.
Today, I’m wearing the Birkenstocks I bought several years ago because they are still comfortable and their comfy soles are not worn out yet. I laughed when I saw that earlier this year, Tom Cruise’s ex-wife was spotted wearing these patently ugly sandals, and they are now popular. I bought them when they were out of style, and most assuredly I will wear them after their resurgence in popularity wanes.
Buying the latest trend is the urge of those who think what they look like to others is more important than what they feel about themselves.
Now that I no longer need to make a statement of who I am using my clothes, I wear what makes me feel physically good, what is appropriate for the task that I’m doing, matches the weather forecast, and is a color that speaks to my heart. I don’t give a rat’s patootie what anyone thinks about it. Who I am is something I carry on the inside.
You know what does not make me feel good? High-waisted pants. I hate them. I am a short person with a short waist and high waisted jeans look absolutely ridiculous on me. When I sit down, they jab me in the ribs under my breasts. I refuse to be uncomfortable so that I look like I am following someone else’s sense of fashion.
The freedom of wearing what I want, when I want to, is an indescribable joy.
This freedom only comes by having the confidence to have my own style, ignoring the pressure of those who wish to make money off of me by telling me how I should look.
A recent luggage mishap whisked my entire wardrobe into an oblivion from which it is has never returned. My wardrobe now fits into a backpack. In addition to the Levi’s and jean jacket that I was wearing on the plane, I have one pair of black slim jeans, a short-sleeved navy t-shirt, a long sleeved navy t-shirt, two soft wool sweaters, and the 3 blouses I bought at a second-hand shop once I realized I was not going to get my suitcase back. I might buy some more clothes, but I am kind of enjoying the lack of effort in deciding what to put on in the morning.
I am comfortable enough in my own skin to chuckle at the young author who beseeched me to change up my hair style every once in a while, because “being young means not being afraid of change.”
Real change is quitting your job and selling everything you own to follow your heart’s path where ever it might take you. Something so minor as changing your hair is like dipping the tiniest part of your pinky toe into some lukewarm water and cheering like you took a polar bear plunge.
The most ineffective way to make life changes is from the outside. Actual change begins with examining your unconscious beliefs and motivations that are often programmed into you by social or parental or cultural conditions. Once you accept that most beliefs you hold are not your own after all, you can discard them. Then, the outside change follows effortlessly.
No, I won’t change my clothes or my hairstyle to show others that I embrace change, while not actually making any real change.
I wear my hair long because I like the feeling of hair on my shoulders and the warm tickle as it sweeps across the bare skin of my back. Because I am tired of having to get my hair cut all the time. Because I have thick wavy hair and cutting it off feels like punishing myself for something God-given.
I find all the dishonesty about aging quite tiring. Should I change because I wish to appear that I am something that I am not? Isn’t it easier to simply not care what others think and focus instead on how I feel about myself? The better I feel about myself, the less I am driven by others judgments of me.
Here is what I know: We are the age that we are, and that age is perfectly irrelevant.
Age is irrelevant because the path to confidence and beauty is self-love. And when you love yourself you don’t judge yourself. Or others. Certainly not for something so irrelevant as clothing and hair style.
I can’t take seriously the multitudinous articles that judge my outer appearance or, more accurately, my age. They are written from a perspective of those who simply do not love themselves enough to see that the outside of them is not the important part of who they are.
Regardless of age, we need to love ourselves more — by doing so we make this world a much better place. Self love allows us to see others through a lens that is not clouded by our own insecurities.
Put THAT in an algorithm.