We were so fortunate a few weeks ago to have Ari Seth Cohen present his documentary, Advanced Style at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham as a part of our “Remarkable People, Remarkable Performances” program series. What makes Ari remarkable is his attitude and appreciation of older women. Ari is a young man – just 32 years old – who celebrates the beauty of aging through his photography, his blog and, now, his documentary.
Ari has never considered “old” to be a bad word – rather it is to be experienced, wise and advanced. The women that Ari photographs, including several from Orchard Cove and NewBridge on the Charles during his visit, challenge stereotypical views on age and aging. In their mind and spirit, they are ageless. They express themselves through personal style and individual creativity. According to Ari, the soul of Advanced Style is not bound to age, or even style, but rather to the celebration of life.
Just because a woman has reached the age of 70, 80 or even 90 should never mean that they don’t care about their appearance or their ability to take on a new challenge. If you cared about your makeup, your hair and your clothing when you were 40, why would you stop now? As NewBridge resident, Lil Starr remarked to me, “I do this for myself, not to impress anyone else. It’s who I am and looking ‘put together’ makes me feel good.”
For Lorraine Gordon, another NewBridge resident, listening to Ari Seth Cohen was inspirational. It changed her attitude. “I’m no longer going to focus on my problems and what I thought was the inevitable decline in older age. I don’t want to be ‘neutral’ anymore and just accept life the way it is. I’m going to take control of my life, not let my life control me.”
Moving to a senior community should never be about giving up one’s individuality – in fact, just the opposite. It’s a time to explore new ideas, do the things that have always brought you pleasure and be the person that you have always been.
Think about the artists we’ve been profiling at Orchard Cove. Some have been artists for years; others have developed new skills and talents now that they have the time to explore them. Avis Brenner took up pastel portraiture after moving to Orchard Cove several years ago. Her current portraits of US Senator Elizabeth Warren and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor hang in the Orchard Cove gallery. She chooses her subjects with great thought and focuses on women who are ambitious as well as passionate about influencing others.
The secret to remaining vital in our later years, says Ari, “is to never stop being curious, never stop creating and never stop having fun.” Pretty amazing words of wisdom from a 32 year old!
It’s the way we should all be thinking – no matter what our age.