Fear of Old Ladies

Top Of The Lake


It has taken several days to emerge from the spell cast by Top of the Lake. I miss the weird atmosphere and the intensity of the relationships.

Now that I’m back in my own world, I’m preoccupied by the creepiness of women who look like old ladies.

I know how wrong this is, believe me. My husband always encourages me to embrace growing old. I know it happens to everyone, you can’t stop time, blah blah blah. And yet it’s so creepy.

Look at Jane Campion and Holly Hunter, 59 and 55 years old, respectively. They are dynamic, vibrant woman and Holly’s hair isn’t really silver in real life. But still. The old ladiness bothers me.

On the other hand, I’d be mad at them if they tried to be sexpots with bursting faces like Madonna. I can’t find a way to be an old lady that doesn’t feel tragic or enraging.

What do you think of Jane and Holly? Is it the androgyny that’s bothering me? They project a ‘Fuck You if You Don’t Like it’ attitude, which I normally admire. Are they saying that they don’t care about being attractive, or are they attractive in a way I don’t get? Would they look better with dyed hair, or is it the length that brings to mind wrinkly old wizards?

I have a week left before I turn sixty. I am disgusted by how shallow I am, but still. I can’t handle it.

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20 Responses to Fear of Old Ladies

  1. Emma says:

    My God. I Loved this series. It completely destroyed me for days. Holly’s character in Top of the Lake was so intense – her long silver hair is so much a part of her character.
    Grey hair suits some women beautifully, especially if they’re tan. Someone like Joan Baez looks great grey. I think it’s more worrisome when it’s a yellowy tone. I’m 39 and was shocked recently to find my first grey hair. I’m one of those people who likes to pretend I look much younger than I am.
    I don’t think I have an issue with grey but more an issue with no make-up. In Australia lots of women don’t wear make-up and I always find myself giving them mental makeovers. When a woman doesn’t wear makeup I inwardly roll my eyes and think she’s one of those women who’s husband says – ‘you’re so beautiful, you don’t need make-up like other women’ and it becomes a badge of honour and they persist proudly even as their face washes out and fades into oblivion. So, that’s my disorder, judging women who don’t wear make-up as being more vain than women who do.

  2. catzenkind says:

    I am almost embarrased to say, that somehow I didn’t get top of the lake. I watched the first three episodes and then I gave up. I see that there were great pictures and I loved some of the characters: Matt Mitchum and GJ, played by holly hunter. Curiously, they looked quite a bit alike, lond, silver grey hair, clothed in leather and all. what was disturbing about gj (what made her interesting) besides her harsh comments and overall toughness was, that she was so asexual (the mitchums kepts making jokes about not being able to tell if she’s a man or a woman). As you age, as a woman in this society (only here?) you lose sexappeal. You can’t have any more children, and even though the way women are supposed to look like is never really attainable, at a certain age you just have to accept, that you can as well stop trying to attain it. and then you simply disappear. Having been told, that you are essentially a woman and being led to believe, that being a woman equals looking a certain way, doing certain things and smelling lovely, you are suddenly excluded from womanhood and become an old lady. Not interesting for anybody. I see, why Gj disturbed you – someone like her, and old lady, isn’t supposed to be on TV, but I don’t no, why you don’t embrace her. I think, she almost transcendet womanhood, when you’re an old lady, there’s no need for that, instead of being scared by the lack of womanhood, you can embrace everything else there ist and really not give a fuck. you’re not shallow, just, like everybody else, a victim of hundreds of years of conditioning. you are great, sister Wolf.

  3. Lynnski says:

    They’re showing up. They’re not fading away, knitting booties or baking cookies in the background of other people’s real lives. They’re living their own lives.

    You’re right that there are no categories for sexy old women like there are for sexy old guys. There’s Hot and there’s Hag. But I think the only way we will get there is with lots of women hanging out and being present with their grey hair and their happiness.

    If you don’t die, you get older. There are only two choices. I think Jane and Holly look pretty damn pleased with their choice. I hope you find happiness with yours. xoxo happy birthday

  4. TinLizzie says:

    I think they would be beautiful with their hair dyed. It’s the silver that’s creepy to me. Grey hair on a young person looks awful too. I intend to be an old lady with long hair in a bun (already am).

  5. Bessie the Cow says:

    I remember a performing artist doing a piece on growing old. I was in my 20s at the time and 60 seemed a million years away. She regaled in her stages of life, I think she listed four: being innocent and virginal, then a slut, a mother, and finally entering her “crone” years. What I remember loving at the time was that she embraced all her stages, was vital, creative, thoughtful, and didn’t let “Mad Men” dictate who she should be. She’s still alive in her late 80s and she’s lived the good life. She’s still beautiful.

    When I was learning to surf in Hawaii, I was told when the next wave is too close and is going to crash on top of you, dive directly into it and you’ll be safe.

  6. Romeo says:

    Holly Hunter is a hyperintelligent sexbeast, Jane Campion looks kind of slouchy. But neither of them look old ladyish to me, and neither do you.

    OK, those pillowy jacket things are frumpy.

  7. Winter Bird says:

    Gray hair, wrinkles, dry skin, it’s just not fair. If that were not bad enough, women must suffer the indignity of hot flashes and heart palpitations. I can’t tell if I’m having a menopausal moment or a myocardial infarction. I am going kicking and screaming into the old age abyss and will embrace the day the Olay Regenerist kicks in. (57 yrs old)

  8. annemarie says:

    I don’t know, do you think it’s because we’re just never presented (or very rarely anyway) pictures of woman who look old and yet still fuckable? I’m not talking about pictures of women who look like Joan Baez, who everyone thinks is the model of growing old gracefully– she doesn’t look fuckable to me. Neither Jane Campion nor Holly Hunter look remotely sexy in that pic, but I don’t think they would have to do that much to themselves to look sexy and virile again. Better clothes and red lipstick would make all the difference.

  9. Hammie says:

    Long grey hair is a bit freaky, but silver is nice if you have blonde features.

    I plan to be a very scary old lady so I will look you up and scare you. Xx

  10. Debbie says:


  11. Hope says:

    I grew up in New England, where Yankee women let their hair grow gray. My mom’s hair is gray without a touch of yellow, and I think it’s beautiful. I can’t imagine her dyeing her hair now. It would look weird.

    I moved to L.A. at 18 for college, and stayed for 22 years. And I noticed, upon going home to Boston for holidays, that nobody in L.A. has gray hair. Nobody! So of course it’s going to look strange to someone who never sees it. It’s just not *done* in L.A.

    I moved back to Boston six months ago, and now I am surrounded by women with gray hair again. I find it comforting. There’s that great Yankee lack of narcissism and lack of fear of aging, combined with an utter pragmatism – nobody’s going to sit every month and spend the money and time on a beauty ritual like dying their hair. It feels like the world is again stratified into age classes, and I can identify who my elders are.

    That said, after 22 years in Los Angeles, I myself have every cream, gadget and plastic surgeon’s name on direct dial. So L.A. won out…

    SisterWolf, you were just meant to have that long, beautiful dark hair. I can’t imagine you any other way. I think you should keep it forever. It’s stunning.

  12. Bevitron says:

    It’s the length. I see woman of all ages around here with salt & peppper, gray, silver, or solid white hair that’s got some kind of style or shape to it, be it super-short or mid-to shoulderish-length, and they look fabulous. No doubt, the long gray look has deeply embedded “witch” into our notions of what defines women.

    I have to laugh because my natural color is med. blonde, and with my current approx. 40% gray, every day someone asks me where I got such an expert natural-looking streak job. HAH! Another 25% and I’ll just be old crone yellow-gray, I guess.

    I think your long black is absolutely perfect for you. Don’t change it.

  13. Cricket9 says:

    Have short hair, silver at the front, darker at the back, for about 4 years now and love it. At some point dyed hair, especially dark auburn shades which for some reason abound, starts to look very obviously fake, and sort of desperate; I couldn’t be bothered with the freaking dye anymore and I really look and feel better. IMO, both Jane and Holly look good and could look great with some makeup and different clothes. I live now in a small town in South America, where we have a lot of North-American expats. Expat women fall roughly in three categories: slim, fit, good shortcut, some makeup, often gray hair; overweight, huge around the middle, dowager hump, tent-like clothes, hair – who cares, they just look OLD; and fake blonds with extensions, duck lips, heavy makeup and flimsy camisoles (with no bra) as outerwear – aaargh. Do not develop a dowager hump, ladies, and don’t get old lady haircuts (short but tightly permed, yes they still exist), and you’ll be fine.

  14. Kellie says:

    As i head towards 50, i am trying to find role models of what 50 is, and looks like, and can be.

    Long gray hair looks witchy, and ridiculous to me. You also cant decide with long hair to let it just go gray, and have a stripe where your color ended and the gray started. Thats just tacky, and screams that you just dont care.
    I want to care. I want to do what i can to stay youthful looking. I am not a very thin person, so that solves some of the skin sagging/crepey/flat issues for the time being. I put my makeup on every day. I dont want to see me looking like shit-why would i subject others to me looking like shit?
    Self care is different than total indulgence.
    Its all maintence baby. Just like the car needs gas and oil, i need lotion and lip balm!
    Thank you for being a great image of 60!!!

  15. D.R. says:

    “It is the eye of other people that ruin us.” Ben Franklin

  16. Brandyjojo says:

    I turned 60 in June, so I feel your pain. A year ago, I said ” fuck it” and quit tinting my hair. I am a brunette and have lots of grey. The thing that always concerned me was how your skin tone changes to go with your greying hair. Jane Campion looks amazing with her hair, but Holly Hunter looks a little sallow because that isn’t her natural hair color. I think, as we age, we really have to watch the color we tint our hair, it looks bad when a woman who is older dyes her hair to match her hair color of her youth.
    You are beautiful and look great, petite with your long, gorgeous hair. Fuck being 60, I figured I’ve been 60 for a year, if I were Chinese, so I just head on and do my thing.

  17. Dj says:

    Happy birthday! 60 is the new 60! You are fabulous…
    Here are my thoughts, I will be 60 in feb…first, holly hunters long long hair is not attractive in the least and hasn’t been for years It’s too much hair for her. I think waist length hair on middle aged women is lazy and looks odd. Dying hair? When I was about 10 I saw an article about Liz Taylor, there was a life size photo of her looking straight into the camera, hair tosseled, and lots of silver hairs gleaming throughout. Gorgeous. Ever since, when i see silver hairs popping up i think of that photo. I am very lucky that at nearly 60 I have very little silver ( I will not say grey!) and what I have I love! My hair is very dark, and I think I could get away with dying it the same color but don’t need it. My mother in law dyed her hair black until she was in her late 80s and it was horribly jarring! To me to stay youthful doesn’t mean plumping up, dying or dressing like a slut. It means being chic both mentally and physically, staying young at heart, watching your weight, sleep, staying current in fashion without going overboard. Also, you either have sex appeal or you don’t. I had an aunt who at 86, after getting a facelift 20 years before, was still like catnip to men. I think it was that she was youthful and kept herself chic.. I looked like a schlump next to her! Keep going girls, Do not succumb to the m words — Meemaw or matronly. Look at Lauren Hutton…also a great looking black leather jacket will go a long way in the chic attitude dept…forgive me for rambling, I’m almost 60….

  18. Dj says:

    Forgot. Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon,Jeanne Moreau,

  19. tick tock says:

    @Emma yes! I lived down under and the local women and Europeans wear no make up and as a 20something I actually appreciated that. But…then the older ones, like all the moms who decided to have kids at forty two, need some damn sunscreen and lip balm. I’m sorry make up and taking care of yourself are two different things. One lady was so old and dyed her hair brown cause she had a three year old. Gawd she was a smug mean bitch and thought she was so hip and natural and a ‘cool’ mom…so then don’t dye your hair, Carol!

    My mother has like 2 grey hairs she dyes and soft skin. She is older than her friends but looks 10 years younger and she still complains! She would look so much better if she just naturally let things happen and let me style her. I am Black so I just doubt that I’ll have the kinds of worries White women do…sorry. I was born with eyebags though, ugh. I want my dreads to be long and grey and wear velvety shawls and leather boots.

  20. me again says:

    It’s not you. It’s not necessarily the old ladyness. They just look weird. Period. No wonder you don’t like something about their look.

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