by Chrysa Smith

I pulled an article out of the April issue of Allure Magazine ( Beauty by Numbers was all about age–low and high, good and bad, serious and silly.

One of the stats that struck me, was that at age 31, Bette Davis starred in The Old Maid–a 1939 film about two cousins, involved at different times with the same man. In the film, Bette Davis winds up bearing a child out of wedlock from the affair, which forevermore, ties her to the deceased lover and her shocked cousin. Selacious stuff, huh?

Well, maybe in those days. Not because it didn’t happen; just because it wasn’t spoken of in public. That was then, this is—-luckily—-now. I say that, because despite feeling our age, being 50, 60 or more in 2010 has its merits. Check out how life was for women like Bette and lesser known women 71 years (and one ‘old maid’ status ) ago:

    In 1939,

  • Women had just been voting for 11 years (maybe 2-3 national elections)–about the same time penicillin, sliced bread and the television were introduced
  • Average life expectancy for white females dropped dramatically after age 50; not even measured after age 80 (compare this to 2010 numbers for the American female: 80.8 years)
  • Nylon and platform shoes were just invented. What did they wear to clubs?
  • No oral contraceptives, credit cards, diet soft drinks, color tv, cake mix, aerosol hairspray, CD’s, DVD’s, Barbie dolls, permanent press fabrics, calculators

House-cleaning in a skirt and pearls has it’s moments of attraction. But I think I’ll take the anti-aging creams and lotions, plastic surgery options and all that our modern age has to offer for those of us who would like to age gracefully. Funny, but Raquel Welsh was on Oprah ( a few weeks back. She’s hit 70. Most of us would like to look that great at 50. But she did say, to prepare for that show—complete with hair, makeup and clothing, with ‘professionals’ to handle that all for her, she got up at 3am.

I’m not prepared to do that. Nor to give up my glass of wine, hit of chocolate and love of carbs to look like her. But it’s sure nice that nobody has yet offered me a role as an old maid—except some kids I talk to in schools who think I look strikingly like my fictitious human character, Mrs. Flout*—gray, frumpy and nothing in common with the likes of Raquel Welsh or Bette Davis.
Oh, those crazy kids!

*Mrs. Flout is a character from my juvenile fiction series The Adventures of the Poodle Posse. ( ) While she is loosely based on my personality quirks, for the record, I don’t believe we look anything alike.