January 25, 2003 - Washington Post: Turkey RPCV Joanne Omang writes about turning 60

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: 01 January 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: January 25, 2003 - Washington Post: Turkey RPCV Joanne Omang writes about turning 60

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 4:13 pm: Edit Post

Turkey RPCV Joanne Omang writes about turning 60

Read and comment on this essay from the Washington Post by Turkey RPCV Joanne Omang about turning 60 and that discrimination against aging women can and will succumb to the same sheer numbers that overturned so many other barriers to women's rights. But only if we insist on it. Read the essay at:

Older and So Much Better*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Older and So Much Better

By Joanne Omang
Saturday, January 25, 2003; Page A21

When I told some friends that I was planning a party for my 60th birthday this month, they reacted like this: "But you won't tell anyone what it's for, right?" And, "We'll all wear black, dear." And, "You can't be serious -- I thought you were more discreet."

Admit to being a 60-year-old woman and your life is over, in other words. Gloria Steinem famously pointed out that when Elizabeth Taylor, at 60, appeared on the cover of Time holding a condom to spotlight her work against AIDS, her photo was airbrushed back to 1956. Steinem mourned that it was more acceptable to display a condom than the reality of a 60-year-old face, even a face as glorious as Elizabeth Taylor's.

This has not changed yet, but mark my words: It will. I can say with confidence, as one moving just ahead of the baby boom all my life, that discrimination against aging women can and will succumb to the same sheer numbers that overturned so many other barriers to women's rights. But only if we insist on it.

I call upon my sisters, the dyed and lifted and Botoxed as well as the earth-mother naturals, to join me in affirming ourselves the way we are now, just as we affirmed ourselves in the 1970s. We forged a revolution for women's lives then, and we can do it again. We must demand attention for aging women -- not just on magazine covers but on the job, in clothing design, product packaging, movies, music, housing arrangements, furniture, typeface sizes and all other areas now expressing contempt for our failure to stay 35.

Study after study shows that we older women, and men too, are healthier than any generations before us, more educated and productive, more interested in travel and the arts, and that we control most of the country's money and snap up products aimed at us. Yet marketing people, hiring officers, movie producers and just about everybody else aim everything at the 16-to-34 demographic.

Why is this? Well, we have been enablers. In fact, we started it. Remember not trusting anyone over 30? Remember Mick Jagger shuddering at the thought of still singing "Satisfaction" at 45? We demanded the vote for 18-year-olds and the right to wear jeans to class; we insisted we could be sexual beings and nice girls too, and we would never be prim and dowdy like our mothers. Vast industries sprang up to help us keep that pledge, and we have been faux-young ever since.

Even at 50 I hadn't accepted the fact of wrinkles, gray hair, a broader beam and knees whose miniskirt days were over. My hair was briefly brown again, and curly. I got contacts and Lasiked. If I didn't get a facelift, it was only because I was chicken.

But the big Six-Oh has liberated me. I am now a survivor, older than 90 percent of the people on Earth. I have achieved some understandings. From lipstick to liposuction, beauty aids are a continuum where we each pick our comfort zone, and I've picked mine. I long ago proved most of what I had to prove, and I don't play relationship games anymore. I don't have to read advice for the lovelorn or how to remove a gravy stain, buy a car, run a meeting, get a loan, achieve orgasm or find a good restaurant -- I already know all that. I could give instruction myself on healthy eating, exercise, gift selections, making chocolate chip cookies, being or caring for a houseguest, or fighting jet lag.

This frees up my time to be indignant. Men my age are considered to be in executive prime time, so why am I over the hill? I want the right to work at new things, because I still can work and because my years of street smarts make me better at it than a lot of younger people. In fact, I'm more independent than most twentysomethings I know. I may be done with trying to be sexy, but now I want to be elegant -- a different kind of sexy. I want to age gracefully, to savor my grandchildren and to spend some of that money I saved for a rainy day -- not just on them, but on myself and my husband, on beautiful shoes I can stride along in, on travel and books, and on good restaurants where the menus have type I can read without my glasses.

In short, I refuse to be written off. America's fixation on youth is an anachronism, because we who started it are old now. And let's admit it -- we had some things wrong about aging. (There, I've said it.) Most people my age are not dependent, retired, ailing or moving to Florida. And boomers, 78 million strong and half female, are going to prove it, redefining this stage of life as we transformed all the earlier ones. Geezerettes, crones, grandmas and blue-haired goddesses -- unite! Our time has come at last.

Joanne Omang is a writer and former Washington Post correspondent in Latin America.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Turkey; Special Interesting - Aging



By Joanne Omang on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 10:39 am: Edit Post

This op ed is going to become a book. I would love to hear from other RPCVs or anyone else with observations or insights or cantankerous ideas about being 60, aging women, ageism, or anything else relevant to this theme. Please just email me at OmangJ@Juno.com. Thanks!
Joanne Omang

By Dee Amick (05-115.157.popsite.net - on Monday, January 05, 2004 - 7:03 pm: Edit Post

My mom will be 60 this February. Any ideas for an out-of-the-ordinary way to celebrate? She is in her second career (landscaping), is single and will not be retiring anytime soon. She works hard, but is not in the financial situation she would like to be at her age. She has a youthful personality and attitude. She lives in a tiny house and does not have room for "stuff" although she loves "stuff".

Dee Amick, RPCV Benin

By raul l patual ( on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 10:32 am: Edit Post

Hi, i am raul l patual from the philippines, looking for old friends from peace corps, namely; jeniffer andrews and jhon lemole, both volunteered in the philippines in 1988-99.

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