The Power of Becoming Ageless
Written by Tawana Bain | Photographed by Kylene White
The first time I noticed age was a label used to limit women professionally and personally was when I was fresh out of college. I remember someone telling me that it would take me 10 years to do something that I wanted to do simply because I was a recent college grad. Being a new professional in the workforce that was an a-ha moment for me.
To have someone determine for me that I couldn’t do something because of my age seemed absurd. I believed then as I believe now that how old I am has no bearing on my abilities. Though I am a firm believer in this, society’s fascination with age – particularly for women – is the main reason why I stopped disclosing it.
As a professional woman and business owner with a few accomplishments under my belt, inquiring minds always want to know how old I am. I think people ask because they want to figure out if it’s youthful exuberance, aged wisdom, hard work or even dumb luck that has enabled me to do some of the things I’ve done. I contend success is a combination of things, but nothing I’ve done has anything to do with when I was born. So, I made the decision several years ago to stop answering the age question. Not only is it personal, but age is just another label that I can choose to refuse. And so can you! Here’s why.
We’re automatically judged by things that can be seen – height, weight, skin color and for some, even religion. But age is one of those things that unless you share it, it’s one less box you can be put it. Some may say, you can tell a person’s age by the way they look. Well, we know that isn’t true. With or without cosmetic enhancements, there are plenty of people who do not look their age. What’s most important is that your age doesn’t matter and it isn’t anyone’s business. The popular saying is true – “If you don’t mind, then it don’t matter.”
And the truth is, there isn’t anything or anyone who can stop us from rejecting the age label. Since making the decision to refrain from disclosing my age, I have felt a lot of freedom. However, the price of freedom does, unfortunately, come with a healthy dose of scrutiny. Sadly, other women are some of the biggest culprits.
I recently met an associate for coffee who asked my age. When I responded that it was information I do not share, she went on a fact-finding mission to uncover the answer. I learned later by her own admittance that she looked at old social media posts of mine in an attempt to find out how old I am. I was appalled that she did this and pretty annoyed with her that she didn’t feel my answer to her question was sufficient. She let her curiosity (or perhaps nosiness?) lead her to search for a more “appropriate” answer when one was already provided. As an avid reader of Today’s Woman, I find small pleasure in knowing she will read my interpretation of this experience.
“While another trip around the sun is a blessing, turning a year older should not dictate how we choose to live, who we date, our careers, how we dress …”
Another woman at an event came over to me after overhearing that I do not disclose my age. She said she wished she had the moxie to do the same. I told her that nothing was stopping her from freeing herself from the age question. All it required was the desire to keep a personal matter private. She then asked how was I able to respond so glibly without it coming off as rude. I countered why was it not considered rude for someone to even ask the question?
If people don’t know your age, they can no longer make judgments about what you’re doing and decide FOR you whether it’s age appropriate or not. I think it’s important that as women we stop putting limitations on ourselves and allowing others to do it as well. From how we’re supposed to dress, to whom we’re supposed to date, to what we should or should not be able to do professionally; for many women the age stipulation is what’s holding us back from fully expressing our individuality.
When I became an empty-nester and decided to re-enter the dating world, one of the things I was adamant about was that I would be open to dating both younger and older men. Of course, I kept it legal, but I refused to limit my options and didn’t want to miss out on finding someone who would genuinely love me because of what other people think is suitable for me or my partner.
It may be cliché, but I truly believe we are as young or as old as we feel, and we should show up in the manner that is true to how we wish to represent ourselves. While another trip around the sun is a blessing, turning a year older should not dictate how we choose to live, who we date, our careers, how we dress etc. This is the essence of being pro-choice – being able to make choices for our lives based on our own standards including whether or not we wish to say how old we are.
I’d like to see more women go ageless, but if you prefer to tell your age you have every right to share it. If you don’t, more power to you. I want women to embrace their inner and external beauty regardless of their age. If you decide you want to go full on gray, do it diva! If you want to dye your hair to the roots every two weeks, go on with your stylish self! If you want to rock a bikini and feel comfortable doing so, don’t let anyone tell you it’s inappropriate or unacceptable especially if you love what you see. If you want to apply for that executive or C-level corporate position early in your career because you believe you are qualified, by all means send the resume. If you want to get married because you found the love of your life early on in life, take the plunge. Or, if you’re in your later years and you’ve never been married, start looking. Don’t tell yourself you’re too old!
Becoming ageless begins when you recognize that you’re just as amazing in your forties, fifties, sixties etc. as you were when you were younger. The limitations in our lives are only the ones we allow to be placed upon us. That’s the ultimate power of agelessness. You get to live and love your life on your own terms and not by the date listed on your birth certificate. #WeSeeYouSis
Thank you for challenging women to stand in their power. For reminding us that we don’t have to answer questions that are insensitive, invasive and which serve to disempower.