When I read the article titled: Don’t Laugh, It’s Serious, She Says in Women’s Voices/Feminist Visions (Shaw& Lee. Pg. 91), I am reminded of my mother, other middle-aged women in my family and the possible future of my own social life. The article written by Ellie Mambe (1985) is very short and to the point and is an example of what the social life of a woman age 55 can be like. She describes herself as being “beautiful, interesting” and “being more talented, smarter, classier and nicer” than the women at parties who are 20 years younger than she is. What amazes me about this article is how the title and this short article together has enormous meaning . Reading this article struck an emotional and personal nerve in me that reminded me of my two years deceased mother. My mother had characteristics very similar to the ones Ellie described of herself. At 59 years old, my mother appeared to be in her early 40s, her energy matched her youthful appearance, and she always matched her shoes with her purses and ALWAYS accessorized every ounce of her personal décor to a tee; CLASSY. My mother was talented, always shared her warm, beautiful smile with everyone, was down-to-earth, she could sing, loved to dance, loved the arts and was someone EVERYONE loved. The thing that bothers me most is that she died lonely.
It has always bothered me to see my mom in tears in the years after divorcing my dad in 1994. In a culture where aging is not valued, appreciated or seen as a beautiful part of life, my mom fell short whereas my dad didn’t. It has been the fate of many women, who I know, that after a certain age they end up alone. The men in my life, who reach middle-age, still date and enjoy their social lives and even remarry. Over the years, this has worried me. I am approaching 40 and without giving details, I know that my future fate may end as many other women I know and love. For some of the middle-age women who merely exist in loveless relationships, they stay out of fear of not finding happiness upon becoming single. Some even date but not as often as their male counterparts and they aren’t as free to choose from a variety of ages & cultures as the men in their same age group. Maybe this is just an issue that is experienced by women in my family; by African American middle-aged women but I don’t think so.
Then African American men in my life who are 50+ are single and confident. These men date younger women without being judged, they don’t express feeling pressure to marry any woman, they date women of various “races” and cultures, they enjoy life with their companion of choice and honestly, most of them have not been women their age but younger women instead. Is beauty in the U.S. so misrepresented that the most beautiful woman in her 50s is not seen as such? You decide.