Try to think of an appreciative or respectful word to describe older women. With our wealth of experience, wisdom and tenacity you’d have thought there might be one!
Hag. Crone. Mutton. Harridan. Witch. Bag. Bint. Battle Axe. Frump. Men get to be Silver Foxes and eligible Bachelors. We get MILF and that spitty, spiky word Spinster.
So to honour female seniority lets own these pejorative terms that have been used for hundreds of years to marginalise us. Lets reclaim them, mock the jargon that projects shame on women of a certain age and celebrate our Cronedom.
The models for these t shirts are friends of mine. Ladies with such gifts, such wisdom that they would all have perished as witches in a former time. (We should be grateful for small mercies I suppose!)
These ladies are not withered by their age, but embrace and celebrate all the freedoms that anciency brings. Many are starting new careers post 50, nearly all have taken up new interests or causes. Here's a tiny bit about why they mean the world to me and why they make such confident, happy hags.
Gill survived three major strokes a few years back and with the brain she has left has started work on a PHD in how to better administer children's medicine. She's now lectures to MA students and conducts policy changing medical research. She's a force.
Christa is an intimidatingly talented clothes designer whose reputation has glowed over three decades and who has earnt the right to spend all day ever day doing absolutely what she loves. She is a woman who faces outwards and uses every opportunity to help, advise and champion those around her. And so she grows and grows with age. She may only take up a few square foot of space in the world, but her influence is boundless. www.christadavis.co.uk
Tracey is my hero because she has a superpower. She seems like a normal person but she has this rock hard inner belief that things will be okey. She is so resilient in the face of adversity I sometimes want to shake her and scream, ' But don't you understand! You're supposed to feel shit right now." And she'll say something light hearted about how she knows life will change again and how lucky she is in other ways...
Despite no previous experience in hospitality or cooking, Tracey is planning to open a vegan restaurant within the year. She's the person I most wish I could be more like!
This is Maria. The witty and vivacious joint owner of Lush Designs. Her work and character are packed with quirk and she runs at life whooping with both arms stretched out. She works like a horse, laughs like a river and weaves her stories of every day with vaulting colour. Maria's self expression punches though the drear of humdrum and soaks you. I think of her as a Le Cruset pot. An indestructible cast iron core, bubbling with yum. www.lushlampshades.co.uk
Dictionary Definition of Battle Axe - an older women with a strong and determined attitude. (If a man had a firm will and personal conviction he might be described more impressively one would suspect.) Still, let's revel in the word we have and the wearer of it. Anna's strength of character is like sun blasting on your face. She has lived, exhibited and blazed in San Fransisco, Chicago, New York, Australia and London.She has an angle or an insight which forces you to think more, rethink or unthink. She is an educator and enabler, (as well as a damn good painter), staring fires in other people's brains with her fierce wisdom. She's guided me on course when I've been lost and off course when I've been pedestrian. She's a clever sod with powerful self belief. A beautiful beaming battle-axe who like all good strong people, knows when to tread lightly.
Despite being an officially geriatric mother at 43, Kate has settled into motherhood with her 5th child by swimming 70k across Lake Geneva, penning a novel and ditching her career in interiors to re-train as a senior detective. I'm lost for words.
Lubna - a lady greatly lacking in Frump - is a renowned ceramicist whose work is so beautiful it brings me out in goose bumps. She recently completed an Artist in Residency at the V&A and displayed a work there consisting of a cluster of over a thousand small pieces that I simultaneously wanted to wear, eat and live inside. Her emotional connection to colour in her work and clothing triggers a chemical reaction inside my eyes. She seems to exist for sublime visual pleasure and the sight of her and what she makes is like gulping down sweet high pigment bubblegum paint. www.lubnachawdhary.co.uk
Harridan - bossy and forthright. Maybe a less aggressive term might be authoritative. Or just advisory. I met Tessa when I was newly pregnant and she was a step or two ahead of me with her second child. She quickly became my encyclopaedia Well read and very principled If I needed to know what my view was on vaccinations controlled crying or some blasted parenting style, Tessa would give her considered opinion and also the counter one so I wouldn't be over-influenced by her! I have a few 'parents' (they know who they are) who kindly guide me through life and Tessa is most certainly one. A sweat council to me, a learned advisor. A worthy Harridan.
The most colourful of sorceresses Carole owns the award winning hair salon Tusk in Camden. A mixer of magical tinctures, a cook of colouration, Carole's skilled fingers and fusions effectuate prismatic alterations. She has been mystically messing with my head for 25 years! www.tusk.co.uk
'What am I, chopped liver!' Thought to have originated when this 'delicacy' was served as a side dish, as an exclamation of feeling overlooked. (Used to great effect by Scary Spice on X factor a few years back.) Natasha's fierce generosity, skill as a sculptor beautiful singing voice and tendency to weld steel in her dining room, make her impossible to overlook. She's an absolute beaut.
And this is me. I've waited 52 years to wear this.
What I'm finding so heart-thumping about this project is the willingness of my female peers to snap and share themselves as proud Bints, Biddies and Bags. Many admit they've never taken a selfie before in their lives. Folk who hate wearing t shirts or are not statement T kinda gals are sending me their own clothes to Hag Up. I'm embalming Crone across a ballgown at the moment! One lovely lady referred to her image becoming 'Hag of The Day' on FB as 'her day of glory' and wrote, 'it’s like being part of some awesome super-group, isn’t it.'
In 2014 Beyonce and Sheryl Sandberg launched Ban Bossy - a campaign to try and prevent young girls from being put off leadership roles for fear of being called bossy. Although I heartily approve of their motives, I don't agree that banning words is the answer. I think the solution to preventing negative connotations of words is to change the connotations. Make them playful. Make them funny. Make them glorious and sexy and own them so they can never degrade us again.
Hag of the Day on IG @twistedtwee
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