Call Me A “Senior”

–And I may have to kick your ass

Oh, the conundrum that is “age.” Growing up, I adhered to the notion that “age is just a number.”

All my life, my circle of friends has spanned all ages. I am a gregarious sort who finds it easy to connect with people, as they, in turn, seem to do with me. Maybe because I refuse to assume that a person is “this way, or that way,” because of the year they were born. I’ve always thought that way of thinking is utter bullshit.

In my twenties, I had a relationship with a man in his fifties, who was, in fact, older than my father. Maybe not the best move, in retrospect — especially after my dad spotted us in a bar, together — but it gives you an idea of how little I was affected by the number on a birth certificate.

As the years passed, I realized the cold, brittle truth that people are routinely judged by a number they have nothing to do with and certainly, no control over. Because I worked in advertising, an industry where youth is revered, age became an even bigger deal, as I saw more seasoned individuals get shit-canned just for being older. Talented, inspiring individuals who were given boxes to pack up their stuff and escorted out of the building. Like criminals.

When I was laid-off (over the phone), in February of 2018, after fourteen years at the same company, I wasn’t even allowed to retrieve my things. My nimrod of a Creative Director, who used phrases she didn’t understand, like “case and point,” packed me up and shipped my shit in boxes that were falling apart.

What the hell is wrong with this picture? How about, everything?

Guys, I can’t speak from your point of view, but I suspect you feel the same frustrations as we women do. Note the word, “suspect.” Because, when it comes to sexuality, especially, and how you are perceived as older sexual beings, I don’t believe you face the same challenges. More about this in a minute.

When I finally took a good, hard look around me and witnessed how aging is perceived in our society, I was bummed the fuck out. There’s no other way to say it.

I’ve always hated the “senior citizen” moniker. It’s like being put into a box. A box that’s frayed and ready for the recycle bin.

There are so many odd expectations related to aging in our culture that I find troubling and infuriating. For example:

Why, after a certain age, do so many women chop off their hair? I’m not talking about those women who get, like a Joan Jett crop because it’s chic and sexy. Or, women who have serious issues with thinning, and shorter hair, in their case, is healthier hair. I’m talking about the “Granny Do.” The “I just turned 60 and now I have to cut this shit off, do.”

The fact that a woman feels she has to conform to a certain way of thinking because of societal standards is terribly sad to me.

I’ve worn my hair long practically my entire life. Except for a brief period when I succumbed to a chin-length bob, which I liked — but long hair is my jam. And, I don’t give a fart in hell what anyone thinks about it. Like my red lips, it’s who I am. Again — if that what makes you feel good, awesome! It’s about choice, not perception. So, if you’re of a certain age, and want to wear your hair down to your butt crack, go for it!

Muumuus, shifts and other shapeless attire: Why? Do our aging bodies look that bad? Should we turn away in revulsion when an older woman dresses in a way that says, “Look at me. I’m proud of who I am?” Wrinkles and all? Got “bat wings” for arms and it’s 95 degrees in the shade? Let them fly, baby! Wear your tank top, proudly. Has your ass gone south? Who cares? It’s an ass.

There’s a lot of talk about body confidence these days so I’m going to segue for a minute and say that I’m a big proponent of exercise. I work out daily. Cardio. Strength training. I’m a believer. It’s done great things for my body, overall health, and my self-esteem. And, it keeps my anxiety in check. IMHO, exercise is an affordable, effective “fountain of youth.” That may sound hypocritical, but don’t we all want to look and feel as good as we can, for as long as we can?

More important: A strong body is a healthy body. Just sayin.’

The truth: Past a certain point, few of us will look like we did when we were 25, or even, 35. But, that doesn’t mean we’re not still beautiful in our own right…still sexy, and vital. Take a look at 73-year-old Helen Mirren. Sex on well-trod wheels! If I’m fortunate enough to exude that level of heat when I’m her age…well, watch out.

Age discrimination in the workplace. This is a biggie and the juncture where both women and men are routinely screwed. I’ve experienced it firsthand so I know whereof I speak.

In retrospect, I should have known better. I chose a career in advertising, an industry where youth is revered. But, I was younger then. And, impulsive. And, I wanted to write, and only write. I had stints at newspapers, but I thought advertising had a certain sex appeal, that journalism didn’t.

Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.

Now, I’m attempting to make it as a working screenwriter. I’ve been at this for fifteen years. Hell, yeah: I’m a masochist. Although, I will say that Hollywood is somewhat more accepting of us more seasoned folk. Of course, it helps if you make a name for yourself before you actually are seasoned.

And then, there’s the elephant in the room: SEX. Guess what? Again, I can’t speak for men, but older women think about f*cking! They really, really do! Who they’d like to f*ck. Why it’s so hard to get f**ked. When they might f*ck, again. In my experience, if an older woman owns up about loving sex, she’s weird, or a perv. Not so with guys. “Hey, they gotta put their d*cks, somewhere!”

A few of my women friends have told me they don’t care if they ever have sex, again? Huh? Why?

Oh, sure — it may not be as slippery “down there” as it once was, but that’s why Astroglide exists. Just a dab’ll do ya. Even coconut oil does the trick, with the added benefit of smelling, and tasting, like a pina colada.

I don’t know what prompted me to write this. I guess I’m in one of my moods. I think too much, and I get pissed off. Too much.

Authenticity is important to me, so I’ll finish by admitting my own hang up. I’ve never liked disclosing my age. I don’t like to be put into that worn box. I’ve always been, and will forever be, a badass. A woman who had the balls to start a rock band at work and sing lead in that band. A woman who keeps putting herself out there. A woman who “never says never,” because that’s like giving in and giving up.

Of course, anyone can find out anything online these days, and that bothers the sh*t out of me. Enough so, that, when I do own up to my age, I feel like I have to include the disclaimer, “But I look, think and act a lot younger than what I actually am.”

And, that’s the truth.

Now, why did I have to say that?

Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinnhttps://medium.com/@sherrymcguinn
Sherry McGuinn is a long-time, Chicago area, advertising/marketing writer, blogger and, for the last fifteen years, screenwriter. A big-time dreamer and proud of it, Sherry has had two short films produced, one in L.A., the other in New York. Both won several awards and screened at festivals but she is still "fighting the good fight," in order to become a full-time, working screenwriter. A passionate straight-shooter who never rests on her laurels, Sherry writes about damn near everything because how do you encapsulate…life? Unflinching in her determination to “just tell the truth,” Sherry strives to educate, engage and inspire others to follow their dreams. A lifelong animal lover and advocate, Sherry resides in a Chicago suburb with her husband and their three fabulous felines.
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Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett

Sherry, as a long-haired, stiletto-wearing (at least while I am sitting), 4’11” (no I have not shrunk) Sexagenarian (an appropriate title for 60plus), I laughed out loud reading your article that rings such truth. Many years ago, I wrote an article about the myth of the passionless over 50, 60, and 70 plus woman. I sit with many who also express your sentiments. Thank you for this!💖

Lynn Forrester-Pitocco
Lynn Forrester-Pitocco

Sherry, to be honest, I love my age, I never think of the ole saying, “getting old”, its what it is and I will handle it the best I can. Very strong ink.

Laura Staley
Laura Staley

Thank you for this totally honest and often hilarious reflection on the stuff of aging in a culture that seems to me all over the place, Sherry. We could do quite a funny comedy riff on all of this. I’ve been fortunate to be a bit of an outlier much of my life-when women my age had kids and three weeks later returned to their paying jobs, I went rogue as a full-time parent as an engine on the “mommy train” (many women had quite the hey dey with my choice). I wasn’t a spring chicken when I had my children. (Thank God!) I walked away from the older white men and the hung over college students of academia and towards my drooling, teething, spitting up, crying, cooing, giggling children. This did not make me younger BTW. That’s a myth, too!

What I know for certain is with the wisdom I’ve gleaned over a lot of years of many challenges, delightful joys, I have finally arrived in a bonus round of being alive that I will not trade for anything in the world. I’m blessed to have taken a very different road, but in doing so remained fairly unscathed by the ageism thing. I feel vibrantly alive, safer than I ever have, freer than I ever have, and with much deep, enduring peace in my soul that no person can f*&* with..ever. As for the domain of sex-again, I will offer this Freedom, Freedom, Freedom and a huge WAHOOOOOO!!! :) Best of my whole life because I have embraced myself, my whole self in love and gratitude which Freed me!! And I love a self aware, emotionally astute and healthy, kind, brilliant man and he deeply loves me. Another WAHOOOO!!

Thank you from the sassy part of me to the sassy, outrageous, totally fierce part of you that wrote this! I loved reading it so much. Thank you for taking the lid off this topic and sharing your experiences and your truths! Go Strong, Sherry!!!

Aaron Towle
Aaron Towle

Hot damn Sherry! You are a badass. I knew it from the start… Your words are explosive but your heart is genuine. Pretty sure all the guys are sweating bullets. So you’ve embraced your cougarness, ain’t a damn thing wrong with that. Way to shred those social norms my friend, throw that playbook in the f***ing trash…

Tom Dietzler
Tom Dietzler

Because of my membership in the club (the Club of People of a Certain Age…) I am begrudgingly writing this. Why begrudgingly? Because it’s almost 9:30 PM and it’s past my bed time. But I am still up because I read your great piece and had to add some love to it. I loved all of it. Thanks for your badass attitude and for making me smile. We too often get squeamish about stuff that is just life, and just because we happen to have our share of decades behind us, we’re not supposed to talk about some things, or care about some things… I applaud your forthright take on all of it, and, as your bio so perfectly states: “Unflinching in her determination to “just tell the truth,”’ – I can now go to bed. I need my rest, as I intend to start a “Sherry McGuinn Fan Club” on the morrow. Bravo, Sherry!

Laura Mikolaitis
Laura Mikolaitis

Sherry, there is so much about this piece that I love. You had me roaring with your wit, and your honesty prevails. I shared your story with two of my sisters-in-law, both of whom I think will enjoy reading this put it all out there piece. I’m in the last year of my 40s and, at first, I was like holy shit I’ll be 50 next year. But, who knows, maybe it will be my second act! Like you, I exercise regularly with strength training and cardio, so I’m not going to hide my body. I’m proud of how I am progressing. Strong body, strong mind, strong spirit!

Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis

LOL! Loved this, Sherry! #SayNoToGrannyDo

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