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Older and younger

I was thinking about ...

... being on a beach with some women friends who commented on how bad they felt about themselves when they saw young girls looking good in bathing suits.

... being at an author event where an approximately-21-year-old female author was actually apologizing to her fellow (older-than-21) panelists for being published at such a young age.

... a review I heard of a movie version of Snow White, which reminded me of that central conflict between the wicked queen and Snow White, and how the queen fears Snow White's youth as much as her beauty (and how that story links youth and beauty).

It's an interesting dynamic, perhaps not unexpected in a culture that prizes youth and beauty, that encourages older people to mimic the unlined faces and anything-but-gray hair of the young for as long as possible. It's a dynamic that I don't think is discussed much in the YA books of today. Offhand, I can't think of an example since this conversation from Norma Klein's It's OK If You Don't Love Me, between a mother and a teenage daughter:

"[Mom] looked at me. 'You know, I wasn't going to bring this up, Jo, but I think we're heading into a potentially dangerous time, you and me.'
'We are?'
"Yeah, I mean, I have to be frank. You're looking fantastic these days, and there are times when I can't stand it. ... I just don't want you to take it personally. ... I guess I'm just not ready, at thirty-nine, to pass on the torch to the new generation and all that.'
'Why do you have to?'"

Parents in YA books are usually absent/abusive/neglectful, or else involved and sympathetic. The close-but-fraught-with-conflict parent-child relationship isn't discussed as much nowadays, I don't think, and there's interesting potential there.

On the other hand, there is the work of May Sarton, who respected (often revered) her elders. At the age of seventy, she talked about how she felt she had come into her own, how powerful she felt. She spoke of the beauty of her elderly friends, and never seemed to envy her younger friends. I can easily imagine a parent, teacher, or grandparent character espousing this view in a story.

There are so many ways to look at age, and at intergenerational relationships.

Comments

I hate that I'm getting to that point where age bothers me. Bah. Bah, I say!
The breakdown of the body isn't fun. But I am getting mellower, which is nice.
. . . 'One is as old as one feels'
Good heavens, I'm 95!
Of course, there's always the self-delusion and denial option (ie: staying 29 forever). I've been using that one for over twenty years now ;)
I feel sorry for people who are ACTUALLY 29. Everyone thinks they're lying. ;-)
Lol :)
I love your posts! Always so fun and interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share your good stories and thoughts.
Thank you!
Wonderful post. I have to say that, as I near a Big One, I know for a fact I'm happier than I was when I was younger. I'd say that's been true for the last 10 years, at least. Sure there are physical signs that are a little weirding-out for me, but the word Possibility has a lot more meaning now than it did then, because I'll actually follow one of them down its path for a while and see where it leads, instead of having to say a full Yes or a full No the minute it shows up. Jealousy at times? Sure. But overall-it's better now.
I agree! My life is still getting better every year.
I've never thought about this. Hmmm? But age is something that can be explored in stories. After all, it plays a role in our daily life.
We're all older than we've ever been before. ;-)
I love the age I am now, for lots and lots of reasons. But I don't love the way our society marginalizes the aged.
In getting older, I've also realized that one type of marginalization, especially for women, is the other side of a coin of a certain kind of attention that younger women receive. The ritual checking-out-of-the-body no longer happens when I'm out on the street, and for me it's a relief to feel less like a piece of meat. I do miss some things about my younger body, but that "ranked and rated" feeling is not one of them. And yet the dismissal, the invisibility, of older women can be insulting in its own way. I guess the bottom line is that I find objectification creepy either way--whether the objectifier finds one "valuable" or not, it's icky.

In terms of inner peace and happiness, though, it's no contest--now is much better than my 20s.
What I like about my age now is that I'm smarter/wiser. What I don't like about my current age is that I haven't accomplished what I wanted to.

When I was a kid to young adult I had an unlimited imagination. So, much was possible. But those dreams never included all the set backs, disappoints and regrets.

If I could det back to clock I would be more realistic and less dreamy.

I really liked this post. These topics should be in more stories. You gave me a lot to think about.
Thank you!

I suppose I would say dreaming is only a problem if one dreams *instead* of doing. But dreams can serve as a carrot to get us to do some awfully hard work!