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Quote of the week: Zadie Smith on age

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Elle.com

There’s an interesting feature on age and agelessness by Zadie Smith in this month’s Elle magazine. Smith questions what agelessness actually means, “I believe age — and the awareness of age — is one of the few concrete ways we can measure our progress through this world, and that each stage of life has its season and something to teach us.” Rather than focusing on a person’s age, agelessness is viewed as a more positive classification; a buzz word adopted by the publishing/media industry (myself included) – though I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone use the term In Real Life. Anyhow. I like what Smith says about viewing time and our biological clocks in a positive way:

“It is commonly thought that time is the particular enemy of women. Because we supposedly have so much to lose: our ‘looks’, our fertility, our cultural capital… But there are other ways of looking at it. That women have timepieces built into their bodies – ‘primarily biological clocks’ and the menopause – signs that must eventually be heeded, signs that are, finally, impossible to ignore, seems to me as much a gift as a curse…It strikes me that one consequence of this bodily awareness of time is that adulthood – with all its complex responsibilities and demands – often seems to come as less of a surprise to women than it does to men (there’s a reason our folk tales are full of ‘wise old women’).”

Though I disagree about ‘cultural capital‘ (had to Google for an exact definition – so maybe I’ve not reached wise old woman status, just yet). Surely this is one of the things that tribal elders do not lose? Smith concludes with:

“At 10, you couldn’t imagine 20, nor at 20, 30, nor at 30, 40 and on and on it goes (I’m guessing. I can’t imagine 50). I see groups of women in their sixties on holiday whooping with delight and I wonder: why are they so happy? I guess I’ll find out. I see lone 80-year-olds pushed by their carers down Broadway, mouths open looking devastated and I’m sure I’ll find out about that, too. It’s all life. It’s all unavoidable. It’s all better than its opposite. Enjoy it while you can.”

 

Read the full Elle feature HERE.

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