There's a lot of nonsense written about sixty being the new forty, or fifty being the time to take a long hard look at yourself, preferably in a mirror lightly smeared with toothpaste. (Try it sometime - it's so much cheaper than cosmetic surgery.) The problem is that people's expectations of women over fifty haven't changed. We're not your genial granny and our lives don't revolve around the cat's worming schedule or finding new and exciting cookie cutters. Here are a few statements to avoid....
"You look good for your age"
The last three words are redundant - and patronising. Unless we have had so much Botox that our brains are paralysed, we know that we are not being favourably compared to a nineteen year old with boobs like deployed airbags and an ability to sneeze with abandon. Just give us a compliment and allow us to bask in its unfamiliar glow without feeling that you have to add a rider for clarity.
"It's not age-appropriate"
If it makes us feel good and does nobody any harm, we will wear it, dance to it, drink it or take it home for a damn good time. Life is short, so we especially need to embrace joy when we're surrounded by squads of barely post-pubescent Fun Police and our knees hurt.
"You can't do that"
Glass ceilings don't break themselves but we're nothing if not persistent, and women north of fifty push the boundaries in medicine, literature, politics, science and business. And in a world where Bruce Willis is still a romantic lead (wtf?) one day even the entertainment industry might realise that we can be desirable too. As for anything else, just remember that we can't be arsed to care what people think, unless we embarrass them. That's just fun.
"Are you the parent?"
I was once asked this at a rock concert, by someone thinking I was there as a band member's mother. This falls in the same category as asking ladies of large proportion when their baby is due. It's particularly poorly received if the band concerned is the Rolling Stones.
Don't treat us as invisible. We have money to spend. We have friends we actually talk to. We can even tweet. Combine grumpiness the UN couldn't quell with the cunning needed to get children to eat Brussels sprouts and our vindictiveness could well contravene the Geneva Convention. Don't turn your back and don't go to sleep. Ever.
"You're a cougar"
Strangely, anyone past the first flush of peri-menopause who takes the trouble to look good is assumed to be out there touting their wrinkly wares. Sure, some gals don the leopard print jeggings in the hope of catching the eye and, with luck, other organs of firm, youthful gentlemen friends. But mostly we just want to look good for ourselves with no intention of picking off sick or wounded stragglers from migrating herds of young men. Roam free, my beauties - I'd rather have a cup of tea.