If make-up artist turned super model Cindy Joseph had let age define her potential, she never would have accepted Ford's offer to become a model at 60. And she certainly wouldn't have launched her own line of cosmetics for women of every generation. She made a choice to not let age affect her ability to succeed.
"I was a make-up artist for 25 years . . . I was just feeling done, and wondering what I was going to do next. I was having coffee with a girl friend and a young woman asked to take my Polaroid, saying they were looking for a model. My first thoughts were 'I'm too old. I'm too short. I'm too fat.' . . . but I'm way past feeling self conscious. My hair and my crows feet are like badges I've earned. I don't want to hide the fact I've been on the planet for 60 years. I want to celebrate it!"
It's time to change the conversation
Ageism devalues our most important resource - people with experience, knowledge, vitality and the courage to create change. My mission is to create the conversation and the tools that allow people at midlife to thrive. I was inspired by Michelle Obama's uplifting speech last week. She talked about taking the high road when others go low. Let's do the same: when you see ageist messages and negative views of being a full-fledged adult, go high! Don't fall for obnoxiously out of date cultural messages. We're living longer than ever before. The fact is that the years we've added to our lives aren't more decrepit years at the end but add up to a new vibrant stage in the middle.
Brands are helping set a higher bar
Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo is the latest Middlescent* to launch a campaign for Philosophy called "coolager." A #coolager is "a person not defined by his/her chronological age. Dove's Real Beauty campaign is the proud grandmother of this trend toward depicting real people living real lives. It is a message that Cindy Joseph espouses with BOOM! - her pro-age cosmetic line.
Our increased longevity has given us an expanded middle life and we are bringing to it the assets of experience, expertise and wisdom. In a recent study by Allianz, 49% of respondents feel a longer life enables a totally different view of how and when life choices are made. That's what's exciting about living in this life stage and not worrying about our age. The choice of what we do when is ours and ours alone.
One of those choices is happiness. A Harris Poll found that adults over 40 are more likely to be happy than their younger cohort. If this is our reality, if midlife begins a new stage of increased contentment and happiness why aren't we experiencing it and reveling in it?
All around us the world is seeking to change the conversation about aging. That's what The Middlescence Factor is all about . . . a movement to recognize that our lives will be longer and that we need to think differently as we navigate life's stages, to focus on the communal tug we feel for more meaning in our lives. Yes, it will take time, persistence and fortitude to change how our culture operates. The time to begin is right now.
* Middlescent: A person in the stage of life between young adulthood and elderhood - approximately 45-65 years of age - searching for a greater sense of meaning; experiencing physical, social, and economic changes; at an inflection point for continued growth and development.