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Why Would a 22-Year-Old Want to Be an ‘Old Lady?’

Hint: These 5 trailblazing women have a lot to do with it


 

 

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Two women in their 20s with tattooed arms stand against a vintage style wallpaper and smile.

Credit: Getty Images

In our youth-oriented culture, it’s rare to find an example of someone who yearns to be older.

So it was refreshing to come across Kate Parkinson-Morgan’s essay for NPR, “I'm 22, and I Can't Wait to Be an Old Lady.”

“Older women are my heroes,” writes the Gimlet Media radio producer. “I'm envious of their knowledge — the beautiful, rich kind of knowing that only unfurls with time, patience and experience.”

While acknowledging the ageist, sexist stereotypes all around us, Parkinson-Morgan notes that we're doing a better job of celebrating women over 50 these days and she points to many inspiring examples.

“Today young women can look to a great many accomplished older women for guidance,” she says.

For examples, see the five trailblazers on the following slides.

1. Lily Tomlin

Actress Lily Tomlin standing against an orange background

Credit: Baltimore Magazine

Occupation: Actor

Age: 77

Why she's inspiring: Portrays older women as multidimensional characters, as in the 2015 film Grandma

2. Nina Totenberg

NPR's Nina Totenberg wearing headphones and in front of a microphone

Credit: YouTube

Occupation: NPR legal affairs correspondent

Age: 72

Why she's inspiring: Explains the complex U.S. legal system in a thoughtful  and engaging way

3. Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem leaning against a tree

Credit: Cosmopolitan

Occupation: Feminist, writer and activist

Age: 82

Why she's inspiring: Paved the way for the feminist organizers of today

4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, at Columbia Law School

Credit: Salon

Occupation: Supreme Court Justice

Age: 83

Why she's inspiring: Has become an Internet famous feminist icon as the Notorious RBG

5. Iris Apfel

Fashion icon Iris Apfel seated, wearing famous black round glasses and many accessories

Credit: The Daily Beast

Occupation: Fashion icon and designer

Age: 95

Why she's inspiring: Still setting style trends and being fabulous in her 90s

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By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke
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