Fifty-something and … Who Cares What We Look Like, Anyway?






‘Popular wisdom insists that you’re not allowed to hit your  fifties and be gorgeous.’ ~ Cassandra Khaw, science fiction and fantasy author.

It’s true that people are surprised when they come across an ‘older’ woman who is conventionally good-looking, i.e. slim, shapely, sexy, well dressed.

When it is confirmed that she is in her fifties (sometimes even forties) or older, and, yet, all or at least two of these things, people act like they want to give her an award.

The belief is that the older you get, the less attractive you will be.

The belief is that it’s important to women to look attractive whatever their age.

The belief is that to qualify as looking good (for your age or at any age) you need to tick certain boxes.

What if, unlike Ming-Na Wen, you were fat, grey-haired and wrinkled at fifty? Would you be seen as having let the side down? Would young women look at you in horror and, shaking their heads, say you had ‘let yourself go’?

Why is a twenty-something author concerned with the physical appearance of women in their fifties? Why is she rooting for these women to look ‘gorgeous’? Are gorgeous fifty-somethings more worthy? Would a fifty-something woman who didn’t live up to conventional standards of beauty be seen by Ms Khaw as a disappointment? A failure? And why isn’t someone fat, grey and wrinkled gorgeous anyway?

These are tired, old questions, and I’m feeling very tired and old. People say, admiringly, that I don’t look fifty: I am fifty so I must look fifty, or fifty must look like me. Right?


Still Reading Austen

Most predictably, I’ve missed the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. I had meant to write an article for the newspaper about why she is read and loved by Malaysians and what relevance the books have to our lives, but I was not as organised or awake as I hoped to be.

I mean to re-read Austen’s six novels this year. I finished Emma a  month ago and am currently re-reading Mansfield Park. Sense and Sensibility next. I may write a review of all six books in one post, but no promises. My energy levels and ability to focus are not predictable these days. But this means that I’m reading more slowly and that’s a good thing. It may even be that, at a slower pace, I understand and appreciate Fanny Price more than I did when I was a teenager (which was when I first made her acquaintance and the last time I read the book). It may also be that I am less impatient now.

As for Emma, I liked her both more and less. And I was totally put off by Frank Churchill – oh how my tolerance for silly young men has diminished over the years. Haha.

Jane Austen (as drawn by Cassandra Austen) (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)



The Present Never Ends

Song of a Manhattan Suicide Addict 

By Yayoi  Kusama
Swallow antidepressants and it will be all gone
Tear down the gate of hallucination. 

Amidst the agony of flowers, the present never ends

At the stairs of heaven my heart expires in their tenderness. 

Calling from the sky, doubtless, transparent in its shade of blue

Embraced with the shadow of illusion

Cumulonimbi arise. 

Sounds of tears

Shed upon eating the colour of cotton rose

I become a stone 

Not in time eternal

But in the present that transpires. 

(A video installation at the Yayoi Kusama exhibition, National Gallery, Singapore.)


See the Urban Dictionary definition of ‘ghosting’ (below). 

However, it doesn’t only apply in the context of dating, as I’ve recently found out. 

What a variety of bastards there are. 

In the post Siaran Tergendala Sebentar I wrote about meeting the Neighsayer whom I described as a ‘nice, unsleazy guy’. Well, he turned out to be a cowardly, immature fuckwit who lied for the sake of lying. Let this be a lesson to me to trust less, or less quickly and readily at any rate. 

The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.

Carmen: How was your second date with Kyle? 

Beth: I thought it went well, but I’ve texted him a couple of times since then and he’s been ghosting me. 

Carmen: What? I thought he was more mature than that.


I’m not sure whom I’m more disappointed in: the bastard whom I thought was a friend; or me, for being fooled into believing in their sincerity. 

I think I’m naive. I tend to take people at face value which is dumb, really. Why did I believe that someone would regard me as family after a week of text messages and one dinner?

And why would someone say that to anyone? Why keep insisting they regard you as a friend and then freeze you out?

Am I that desperate for company that I’ll believe anything I’m told for some minutes of conversation?