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Thinking - February 2013

Coping with life changes is never easy, is it?  But there’s nothing to be done about it.  It happens and we all have to manage our own particular challenges as best we may.

For me, one of the unexpected and irritating aspects of my own situation was unexpected physical change and the impact this had on my personal style then, subsequently, on my self confidence.  Of course in overall terms, this was not of huge magnitude compared to a lot of other stuff – er, like losing my independence, my career, being horribly ill etc. – but it has affected my interactions with others, with society and my sense of self.

I don’t look like me.  I cannot find my style in the product offer I see around me.  I am forced to represent myself visually to others with a look that simply doesn’t feel like me, sigh!  Like it’s not hard enough projecting my – constantly entertaining(!) – personality across the barriers of wheelchair and illness but I also have to do so looking like something the cat dragged in, bloated out, sat in a wheelchair and patted on the head, saying: “Go roll with that …”  Cat sniggers.

Okay, I know I can not turn the clock back but, hey, I’m a grown-up.  I am adaptable, flexible, spontaneously creative just like everyone else.  I have looked for acceptable style alternatives … with some success … and some failure.  There’s still a lot of unhappy compromise happening here.  There simply is so little retail product marketed and sold to those women undergoing – normal but still significant – physical life change who are having to adapt their style to suit.  We are either sexy young things, business women, mothers or still-sexy old things!  Good grief, not.

Who is selling to mature women who are juggling career change with personal change with illness and dependency – their own or that of family?  Or even women who are just ageing, wanting comfort and style, easy, simple with quality and style so they can get on with life AND look as good as they can?

I know I am not alone in this and it is why I started the Plus Black blog to share, to have fun, to exchange ideas with other women like me.  It is why I am considering the viability of a site bringing great looking, good quality product that addresses such issues, in one place, for us to browse, explore, investigate and even buy things we need and like.

I read an article in The Times a couple of days ago: To go on or to give in? Yes, the awkward age is here, boomers by Minnette Marrin, published in The Sunday Times, 17 February 2013 which considers the ageing aspect of life for the 1946-1959 group of baby boomers, all now in their fifties and sixties.

The article made me smile because of the drama attached to this very natural process of change that we all must go through.  She writes (extracts only, find the full article, behind a paywall, by clicking on the link above):

… Now the baby-boomers are beginning to get old and they find it rather hellish... [and] are having a hard time letting go of youth and power, or even of middle age and power. Baby-boomers are in denial about old age.

I think the baby-boomers will mostly be spared the decision of when to give up gracefully. Most of us belong to the sandwich generation, between struggling, impoverished adult children and extremely frail ancient parents and their constant need of funds. And at the same time, the welfare state is rapidly running out of money. So most of us won’t be able to choose to give up.

The generation that shopped till it dropped will have to work till it drops, to help support the generations on either side. The baby-boom generation will never have a time to think about taking it easy: it isn’t going to be easy.

There is of course another route to this unhappy scenario which is to adapt, to seek inspiration, to flow with the change and to do it in as much style as possible.  It might seem grim; you may be unwilling; but consider the alternative.  Join me at Plus Black and Be Inspired by Style for Changing Lives.

I would love to hear your views on this and do enjoy yet another fabulous illustrations from Hannah Ensor at Stickman Communications. Go to Plus Black Illustrated to see more Hannah originals.

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