We’ve been inspired by the wave of older influencers who are proving that, when it comes to living a vibrant life, age is just a number. From Instagram fashion icons in their 90s to the wisdom being captured in books and viral articles, the demand is high to soak up the knowledge and experience of those who have lived full lives. Here, we celebrate the bold ones who are redefining what it means to thrive in old age and showing younger generations how to take life by the reins.
Old Age: The New Frontier
A misplaced fear of aging inspired two women in their 30s to start a website celebrating inspirational older people. Dominique Afacan and Helen Cathcart created the website Bolder because, in their own words:
"Old age to us was an unhappy place, mostly filled with loneliness, rocking chairs and possibly some tea and biscuits, if we were lucky.
... When was old age going to knock on the door and tell us the fun was over? About 70, we reckoned, and together, we set finding people in that bracket who made old age look more appealing.”
The authors found just that. Eventually, they went on to publish their book Bolder: Life Lessons From People Older and Wiser Than You. It’s full of stories of intriguing older people, including a woman who fell in love and married at the age of 82 and a man who at 85 has enviable energy, swimming a mile every morning in the Mediterranean Sea. Nearly all of the interviewees are still working or creating in some way. Crucially, some of them say the happiest time of their life is right now, not their younger days.
Style Is an Attitude
The fashion world has become far more inclusive, thanks to an explosion of older Instagram influencers who are defying stereotypes. Anything but boring and beige, these stylish pioneers are proving that opportunities to express yourself only increase with age.
The inimitable Iris Apfel is the world’s oldest fashion icon at the age of 97 and lives her life with some serious sass. Apfel found fame at 83, when her irreverent and outlandish style caught the attention of the Costume Institute’s 2004 exhibition at The Museum of Metropolitan Art.
Working with fashion brands and regularly updating her 1.4 million Instagram followers, Apfel has become a leading figure in the fight against ageism in the fashion industry. She's even the subject of a documentary about her life. A living legend, she believes in living life to the fullest:
“I'm just inspired by being alive and breathing and meeting people
and talking to people and doing things and absorbing what's happening."
“If I could remain one age forever, I wouldn’t. I don’t believe in that.” - Iris Apfel on Instagram
Meanwhile, sexagenarian jewelry designer Sarah Jane Adams — aka @mywrinklesaremystripes — has accumulated 24,000 followers on Instagram and boldly conveys her unconventional approach to aging on her account. In her own words:
"My wrinkles do not scare me; they show me and therefore my experience. Hopefully there is a little wisdom which comes with
these stripes. I see them as a badge of honour and a mark of roads traveled and experiences had. Why would I not be proud and happy
to show them?"
Sarah Jane Adams photographed at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney for the Guardian Australia (Photos by Jessica Hromas)
Life Lessons From Those Who’ve Really Lived
With advanced age comes greater wisdom, and nowhere is this more clear than in the viral article The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. In it, Australian palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware provided a sobering perspective on life that only comes with being faced with the end of it. Consider the top regrets:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish I’d let myself be happier.
This thought-provoking article underlined the importance of making the most of life at every age. Reprioritizing now, while there’s still precious time for living, can save plenty of heartache later. The biggest takeaway is that spending time with loved ones and living life on your own terms are the keys to happiness. Life is temporary, so live boldly, continue to share your stories, and stay connected to what makes you feel most alive.
At StoryTerrace, we celebrate old age and believe everyone has a story worth telling. That’s why we’re on a mission to help 1 million people turn their life stories into books to be passed down through generations.