Saturday, June 24, 2017

Taking Back Your Story

Let's face it. You are going to spend most of your life being "old", according to the rules of the dominant paradigm. Especially if you are a woman. We are still generally considered "washed up" around age 35 in this culture. If you live into your 70s or 80s, well, that leaves 40 or 50 years of life. Are you going to live it "washed up" because society says so?

In this era of grotesque website sidebars that scream "They were beautiful in their 20s---now look what they look like!" and seem ever obsessed with celebrity boobs and physicality, it is clear the mainstream is still profoundly sexist and ageist. What to do?

Take back your own story.

By a circuitous internet route, I found myself on Cindy Joseph's website.

picture found here

She became famous for starting a modeling career at age 49. I remember the first time I saw her, I believe in a Sundance catalog, and I thought "holy crap, a woman with grey hair in a fashion catalog!". Now in her late 60s, she has a makeup/skincare line and a blog.. I looked through it. I was really struck by the simple way she stated a key point about how we tell stories about ourselves:

2- Re-draw your graph of life.
"You know, that one that’s in the shape of a mountain. Supposedly, life goes uphill until we hit this imaginary peak called “the prime of life,” and then it’s all downhill from there.
But who drew that picture? It certainly doesn’t match my experience or that of the women I know.
We just keep expanding! My graph of life feels more like an uphill journey all the way. So I re-drew my own picture. You can too."

Simple, but profound. When you automatically picture your life in the frame that bulk society provides for you, it's generally going to be disappointing. So change the frame, the graph, the map. For my own part, I don't identify with graphs or the whole "uphill" thing at all. My personal story map looks more like this:

Some people may not identify with any kind of "map" at all. Maybe they picture floating in the ocean. Flying through space. Whatever. It's your life.

How do YOU picture it?


  1. I love your personal "map"! I've never followed society's idea of an average person's graph so I'm sure the rest of my life won't either. I didn't really feel like I came into my own until I was at least 40 anyway, and mentally, my 50's have been even better. (Physically is another story, but ah well...)

    1. I'm a "late bloomer" as well. You definitely strike me as a person who has charted their own map---yay for stepping outside the rigid bounds of the mainstream culture!