I’m 32. Recently I went to a hairdresser who is not my regular hairdresser. She commented on my hair, asking if my boss minded its colour, and when I said it had never been an issue, she suggested it should be and perhaps I could ‘tone it down’ to something more ‘age appropriate’.
Those who know me will be aware that my wardrobe is filled with mostly black staple pieces that I will add a coloured accessory to- be it a scarf, jewellery, nails or even my hair. That’s me. But this exchange with the over zealous and fairly immature apprentice hairdresser made me wonder- at what age should I turn into the societal stereotype for women in their early thirties?
I mentally compiled a list of things to change and trade. Swap my Ray Bans for oversized Gucci sunnies. Farewell, extensive sneaker collection, I hear brogues and wedges are in. Must stick to French manicure or at my most daring, a red or possible ‘almost’ black manicure- toss out all my fun colours. Throw out all the clever ‘slogan’ t-shirts, black tights and oversized skirts and see if Witchery would do me a deal on a whole new wardrobe in a tasteful hue of pastel or monochromatic fabrics. Next, swap the pink and purple hair for my natural brunette with some tasteful honey coloured foils. Get rid of my Volcom black leather handbag and purchase something from Coach ASAP!
But why stop at an image overhaul? I collect rare ‘Hello Kitty’ merchandise and other assorted oddities and curiosities. I have a Rubik’s cube alarm clock, a framed Pixies poster, concert ticket stubs. Every kind of kitsch knick knackery, I have found it, I have bought it and I love it.
I haven’t decorated in neutrals or shades such as ‘warm latte’. My quilt cover is purple, my curtains black. My couches are purple with black throw cushions. Instead of In Style magazine sitting tastefully on a coffee table for guests to read, I have piles of Rolling Stone sitting… everywhere. I buy books on art and music- not the latest in ‘organic eating’ or ‘How to dress at 32’.
I’m buying a new car after I do my tax- and if I were to fit in with my thirty-something peers, I’d be getting a spacious sedan with heated leathers seats. But I, on the other hand, will be purchasing a zippy little Suzuki Swift in a zesty metallic green; and haven’t ruled out getting the one with the twin stripes painted on it. If I feel it makes the car go faster, then why not?
So am I alone in pondering these things? Is my Peter Pan complex deluding me into thinking I am not yet old enough to fall into the category of ‘mutton dressed as lamb’? I do not wear jeggings. You will never see my midriff. I removed facial piercings when I became a teacher. I don’t purchase Dolly or Girlfriend. I wear black, but not as some sort of gothic statement – I find it to be the perfect palette on which I can give colour a bit of pop (and I like looking like I can leap into ninja-type action the moment a crisis strikes).
If you want to wear neutrals, fine, but who I am could never conform to the latest trends, or start dressing ‘my age’ because it is what society expects. I am who I am and I think at 32, I’m still entitled to have fun with my wardrobe & my appearance. I resent the idea that at a certain age, a woman must ditch her personality, the traits that make her unique, and somehow fit into a latte coloured box. In my career I have to dress with a level of professionalism, however both my Principal and my senior students love what I wear and how I choose to present myself. When does one become too old and have to give this up?
Is age and image discrimination alive and kicking? Me, my pink hair and rainbow nails think so.
What do you think? Do we all need to grow up? Is there an age where you move beyond bright coloured hair and green cars with racing stripes? Did you grow up?
Image 2 from Suzuki