It’s popular to say that “black don’t crack,” which, if you’re unfamiliar, refers to how it is often hard to tell a black woman’s age because of visible youth. This is often true and it has been for my family. I dare not reveal my mom and grandma’s ages without their approval, but they are usually not perceived to be the ages that they are. However, this does not remove women of color from experiencing ageism. This is a form of discrimination that can affect both the young and old, but really gets discussed more in terms of obstacles faced by older people. Aging in this society is seen as something that we should not want to do, even though it’s a natural part of life. Why as a society are we ashamed to embrace aging when, one, it’s an opportunity not afforded to everyone and two, with age comes wisdom (for most)? In reflecting on this, I wanted to counter this narrative by showing examples of the beauty of aging.
Style Like U x Allure – Dispelling Beauty Myths
One of my favorite resources for style inspiration and good vibes, Style Like U, recently partnered with Allure for a series titled “Dispelling Beauty Myths.” In this version, the team speaks to Norma Kamali, Michaela Angela Davis, and Joani Johnson – all women of varying ages and backgrounds that provide a positive perspective on aging. Kamali mentions how in her younger age, during the time when society would have deemed her most beautiful/worthy, she was riddled with insecurities. Now, at 71, she feels the most beautiful and she is still very active despite what naysayers would believe about someone her age. Davis, who is in her early fifties, has finally found peace of mind (she calls this sexy!). And can we just talk about Johnson’s fabulous grey hair? Based on the gems provided in this video, I’m curious what wealth of knowledge would come out of a longer conversation with these ladies.
I believe that great style knows no age restrictions, so a site like Advanced Style is proof for disregarding the notion that getting older equals frumpy fashion. Advanced Style was founded in 2008 by Ari Seth Cohen in an effort to showcase the style of people over 60. There is also a documentary that was made shortly after, as well as 2 photo books and a coloring book! Below are some fabulous women of color photographed by Cohen…they are all killing it with the accessories and radiant smiles!
“Black Don’t Crack” Celebrity Club
As I worked on this compilation of fabulous older ladies, I was shocked that the notorious celebrity members of the “Black Don’t Crack” club didn’t cross my mind…how could I have forgotten about my eternal fave Ms. Tina Turner? At 77, she has such a diverse list of accomplishments, among them being how badass she is. We also have to consider another Ms. Tina (63, mom to almost everyone’s faves), Sade (58), Rachel True (50), Grace Jones (68), Angela Bassett (58), the incomparable Cicely Tyson (92!) and the list goes on…
All of this goes to prove that whoever tries to shame the beauty of older ladies has done an injustice to themselves by reducing such wise women to how attractive they are, not spent enough time around older women to enjoy their perspective, and never taken a look at any of these women! Respect your elders!