Going Beyond Graceful Ageing To Find Joy: Mary Anne’s Story

by Tanya February 20, 2024

When we speak about “aging gracefully”, what we really say is looking at least 5 years younger than we actually are, while not appearing to do anything to achieve that.

It also means “acting your age” by wearing age-appropriate clothes, having age-appropriate hair, and doing age-appropriate activities.

A graceful old lady hasn’t given up on her appearance, and may even look 20 years younger thanks to the surgeon’s knife (she just doesn’t talk about it).

The concept of graceful aging, often cloaked in the guise of self-empowerment, is actually a marketing strategy designed to sell cosmetics and anti wrinkle injections.

In short, graceful ageing is ageing the way society wants you to: being presentable

“Aging gracefully” entails that our value declines as we age, because there is no celebration of being 70 , still feeling young, being adventurous – being yourself.

So I interviewed a 70-years-old New Yorker, Mary Anne Clive on ageing joyfully. Here is  what she wrote:


At 70, I’ve witnessed the transformation of the world and myself in it.

Graceful aging, a term so often adorned with images of silver hair and youthful skin (selling products that target the signs of ageing is never ethical, no matter how you spin in) marked by elegance and poise.

A graceful woman (not Mary Anne)

It’s about how others perceive you, not how you feel about yourself.

Do we ever think of ourselves as graceful? Never. We are messy, unsure, playful, contemplative, but never ‘graceful’.

It’s a concept steeped in the idea of upholding an aesthetic that society deems appropriate for one’s later years.

While there’s merit in aspiring to grace, I’ve discovered that it’s but a single hue in the vibrant spectrum of growing older.

Joyful ageing is liberating

Joyful aging is a choice to revel in the richness of life with unabashed enthusiasm.

It’s about acknowledging each wrinkle as a testament to laughter, every gray hair as a strand of wisdom, and understanding that true beauty lies in the stories we carry and the joy we share.

This realization dawned on me during impromptu dance party in the living room with my grandchildren, where grace might have been absent, but joy overflowed.

It struck me while volunteering at the local community center, where my age was not a barrier but a bridge connecting me to others through shared experiences and stories.

Joyful aging has allowed me to shed the weight of societal expectations.

The pursuit of grace often comes tethered to the fear of the visible signs of aging, but joy liberates.

It has taught me to celebrate each day not for the youthfulness it might mimic but for the unique opportunities it presents.

Joy has made me an explorer in my own life, eager to discover new passions, to learn, and to grow—not in spite of my age, but because of it.

As I share these reflections, I’m not suggesting that graceful aging lacks value. Grace may dictate how we navigate the world with elegance, but joy determines how deeply we love, laugh, and live in those moments.

Graceful aging is an art form, a way of moving through the world with finesse.

Joyful aging, however, is a celebration, an unabashed embrace of all that life has to offer, with the wisdom to know that the best is always yet to come.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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