When I was a little girl, my grandmother seemed so “old.” Looking back, I realize that when I thought she was “old,” she was only in her mid to late 50s. In those days, however, the 50 and older set looked (and acted) much different than they do today. I cannot imagine my grandmother taking a cycle class or running marathons in her 50s any more than I can imagine her rocking long hair and stilettos.
But today’s 50+ woman does all that and more. Refusing to become invisible, she is taking center stage. Even the New York Times took notice, running an article on “The Glamorous Grandmas of Instagram” in 2018. The hashtag #fierceoverfifty has become a rallying cry for this demographic of women who have realized that the second half of life might just be the beginning, and they aren’t ready to be counted out just yet.
The Cultural Shift
Unlike my grandmother’s generation, who might “fudge” their age a little, this new crop of 50+ women does not just own their years; they proudly shout their ages from the rooftops. Cher, age 77, repeatedly brings down the house when she famously asks her audience, “What’s your granny doing tonight?” She isn’t the only one who isn’t letting a number define her worth. Supermodel Christie Brinkley posed beside her daughters in a swimsuit for “Sports Illustrated” a few years ago at 63, while Martha Stewart graced the cover at (gasp) 81! J. Crew featured an elegant middle-aged, midriff-baring model in a 2023 ad campaign, and we dare you to find a fiercer individual than the iconic Iris Apfel, who recently turned 101.
But it’s not just celebrities who are slaying the game. Women everywhere are tired of the narrative that says the natural aging process makes them irrelevant, and they are finding ways to be seen and heard. Don’t believe us? Look at the success of “And Just Like That.” The girls who grew up with Carrie Bradshaw and crew as their idols in their 30s are now in their 50s—and so are the show’s characters who are navigating the challenges that come with aging but doing it with style, sass, and, yes, sex appeal.
In a Fox News interview, Brinkley once observed that today’s women no longer let numbers define them. “In the olden days, the numbers came with so many rules and so much weight on a woman,” she said. “There were so many restrictions associated with certain numbers. Like after 30, you can’t wear your skirt above your knee. After 40, you shouldn’t wear your hair below your shoulders. Nowadays, women are totally reshaping the numbers and giving those numbers a new image.”
How to Find Your Fierce
To be clear, fierce is not about looking younger. We aren’t talking about denying or fighting your age. We’re talking about not letting it define you and doing whatever makes you feel like your best and most confident self. If that includes things like filler and botox, great. If it means letting your hair go gray and embracing your wrinkles, more power to you! And that’s the point. Fierce is an attitude about aging where anything goes. There are no rules anymore. You can reinvent yourself whenever you like. Fierce is being your authentic self despite what the world says a woman over 50 should or should not do. So, how do you find your way to feeling fierce over 50? By taking your life into your own hands. Here are a few ways to start:
Learn a new skill
Have you always wanted to learn to cook? Master a foreign language? Paint a landscape? What better time than the present? Give yourself permission to explore your interests and pursue all of your passions regardless of what others might think.
Consider a new career
Are you truly happy in your current job, or are you simply scared to make a change? We get it. Changing careers can be a scary proposition. Factor in an uncertain economy and an (ahem) advanced age, and it can become downright terrifying. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you no longer feel fulfilled in your job, dust off your resume and send it out there. Use your age to your advantage and stack your skills because you have something that most younger people don’t: years of experience, connections, and success.
Know what’s trending
Nothing makes you feel older than being unable to contribute to a conversation because you have no idea what anyone is talking about. To stay relevant, you don’t have to like the Kardashians or even understand their rise to fame, but you should know who they are. Same with politics, social media, and world events. Not only will you be able to confidently hold your own at the water cooler or a cocktail party, but you might even be able to drag your teenage grandkids into a conversation.