You think you’re pretty cool, and that’s easy to believe when the older people who surround you are putting on such a bad show. Those moms at the mall with their back-combed bangs are stuck in a time warp. You roll your eyes any time one of your middle-aged coworkers speaks about her love of Phil Collins. Your dad doesn’t just yell at the kids to get off of his lawn, he yells at the actual lawn. Anyone who’s old enough to be your grandparent is automatically too old to be cool, clearly.
Hey nineteen, listen. Being young doesn’t mean you’re the bee’s knees or the cat’s meow. Being young isn’t enough. Sure, the over-50 crowd might seem tame at first glance, but many older peeps have their own stuff going on – stuff that they can do because they have things like, you know, money and experience. And because they didn’t brag about it in a Facebook status update, you had no idea. Don’t believe it? Then just check out these three women who are over 50 and who are objectively cooler than you.
Etta Britt. Remember that time you swore you’d audition for American Idol only to take one look at the human maze of feather boas and Lady Gaga wigs and quickly turn around? Or the time you formed that electro-folk band that broke up less than a week later because of “creative differences?” Well you might want to take some notes from Nashville artist Etta Britt, an up-and-coming singer who’s just released her debut solo album at the age of 55.
The album wasn’t written and recorded on a whim – it’s the product of years, even decades, spent learning the music biz from the inside out. Etta began her journey at age 20, but when her demo tape didn’t find footing in Nashville, she didn’t give up. She worked and auditioned and even sneaked backstage to get an audition and a shot in the spotlight. Her efforts paid off, and after years of singing with the successful group Dave & Sugar she finally struck out on her own, nearly 30 years after her journey began.
Think about it – if Etta Britt can run a farm, raise a family and put out a debut album after 50, what’s stopping you from doing it right now? If you’re keeping track of the cool points at home, that’s Women Over 50: 1, You: 0.
Carol Masheter. “I should be learning how to knit and play bridge and doing things that are more age appropriate to people my age, but that’s just not me.” That’s what Carol Masheter told the Daily Mail in March. What was she doing instead? Oh, you know, nothing big – just climbing the world’s highest mountains on all seven continents. Carol began her high-climbing journey at age 60 and has been scaling peaks ever since. Here’s an older woman who can say she’s beat Everest, Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua.
Why did she scale Everest? Because, as she told the Daily Mail, she looked at the peak and thought, “I don’t want to die without knowing whether I could climb Everest because I didn’t try.” Seriously, that’s about the coolest attitude you can have. If you would only take that outlook and run with it – in every aspect of your life – you’d probably be a lot cooler than you are now.
Ilona Smithkin. Ilona Smithkin isn’t just over 50 – she’s nearly double that. Being 90, she jokes, makes her “too old to buy green bananas” but not to old to be an artist, a performer and a fashion icon. You can find Ilona’s fashion tips and general style advice on the blog Advanced Style, which features photos and interviews of stylish women of a “certain age.” Ilona is one such woman, and she has a story to tell.
Born in Poland, raised in Berlin, schooled in Belgium and then later forced to move to New York with her family to escape the Nazis, Ilona’s colorful past has given her a wealth of experience to draw from when it comes to her art and her other pursuits. She’s painted portraits for everyone from Tennessee Williams to Ayn Rand, and her creative drive shows no signs of slowing down. She’s even started making her own lingerie! Now that’s a DYI-aesthetic. That’s punk. Score some style tips from this senior arbiter of cool by heading over to Advanced Style and checking out her latest vlogs.
If you learn anything from these women, it’s first of all that you’re not very cool. Sorry, but someone had to say it, and it might as well be said five times or so, because that’s all the Internet is good for. The number of “cool points” that a person has to work with and the number of candles on a birthday cake don’t scale inversely. But don’t let this discovery turn you into a Debbie Downer, because that’s the opposite of cool. Let it give you hope. Because even if you haven’t exactly earned cool-kid status by your mid-twenties, you have most of a lifetime to get it right. Just keep working to be awesome, like these women did. Give your grandma some props while you’re at it.
Lidia Jean Taylor is a music lover from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When she’s not lost in her iTunes, she can be found tearing it up on the Frisbee golf course or playing with her two dalmatians, Franny and Zooey.