At what age do you stop being creative? Creativity and self-expression have no age limit. Advanced folks are not done exploring, being creative, learning, doing new things and living their best lives while reinventing themselves and showing the world that grey hair, smile lines and wisdom are beautiful accessories. Just recently, Rihanna handpicked 67-year-old model, JoAni Johnson, for her Fenty Maison LVMH launch, creating greater inclusivity in fashion — not just in terms of race and size, but age as well.
The ultimate local ambassadors of timeless style, Judith Boyd and Howard Snooks, dress with an abundance of personality and creativity and exude confidence and charm on the runway. They are proving that fashion isn’t just for the young. They are challenging conventional ideas about beauty and aging and showing us how you can reinvent yourself, no matter your age. Let these two wonderfully stylish individuals teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest.
303 Magazine: There’s a certain boldness and confidence that comes with age. Do you think this comes from getting to know yourself?
Judith Boyd: Absolutely. Research has informed us that humans are the happiest at the beginning and the end of life. I feel more confident now than ever before. I consciously focus on what gives me energy and what I feel passionate about. I look for what brings me a sense of wonder, which affects my health and well being. This is not to say that old patterns don’t exist, but it’s like peeling an onion. When I resolve an issue, another comes forward to work through. It’s a life long process, and I am able to recognize that the older I become, the more I know what I don’t know.
Howard Snooks: I have noticed that older people — myself included — are less likely to filter their observations so there is that. Also, I survived some pretty disturbing experiences when I entered into late middle age. Surviving those experiences and growing from them gave me confidence more than just living to be almost 70. But there are plenty of timid, depressed old people out there. It requires making gutsy moves sometimes to not be intimidated by old age.
303: What have you learned about yourself over the years?
JB: I’ve learned to place my attention on the acceptance of myself and others, practice kindness and avoid judgment and choose cooperation and collaboration as opposed to competition. The women around me are my teachers and often a reflection of a part of myself.
HS: I learned that I cannot rely on others to provide me confidence and good self-esteem. I must do that through my relationship with myself. That said, I have learned how much I value goodwill from others. Most people want the best for you. Deep, loving relationships are what create a meaningful life.
303: How have you honored your age and self-acceptance through the years?
JB: Because of the Advanced Style Movement, which was initiated by Ari Seth Cohen, I am much more accepting of the changes that aging brings than I would have otherwise been. It’s an ongoing process of honoring not only my age but where I am at each moment. It’s a shift in mindset and I tend to align my self-talk with what I have learned about aging since I launched my blog, Style Crone.
HS: I have never thought that old people should receive special dispensations and deference. An old guy who yells, “you kids get off my lawn” is not someone to be taken seriously unless he is being victimized, but I have learned from my mistakes and have forgiven myself for those made out of ignorance or extreme anxiety. I am much more appreciative of myself for my qualities and more forgiving of myself for my challenges than I used to be. I think the divorce helped me with that too.
303: What does “aging with attitude” mean for you?
JB: There are two ways of looking at this concept. The way we think about, talk about and write about aging has a direct effect on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes towards aging are carried throughout life they have a detrimental, measurable effect on mental, physical and cognitive health. The reverse is also true. Another way of looking at this is that “living with attitude” can mean a carefree, somewhat defiant, nonchalant, upbeat and buoyant response to aging. This attitude is possible at any age. Why not have fun and enjoy the ride?
HS: I suppose I do have an attitude about aging. I feel like it’s an adventure and that creativity and vision will carry me through it. I am not afraid of dying anymore. I used to, but now it frees me up to express myself and to pull off this “getting old” business.
303: Tell us more about the attitude of “live your life to the fullest.”
JB: There is an urgency of time in that I’m aware that I’m in the last phase of my life, as I’m now 76, which is closer to 80 than 70. Therefore, I challenge myself to take risks, follow my passions, and have as much fun as possible while living my values and contributing to the greater good.
HS: I certainly love to have adventures — traveling, meeting new people, acting in a film — so that I seldom have a typical day. I avoid risky physical adventures — parkour, jet skis, football, etc. — because I don’t want to potentially impact my mobility. It is harder to heal from injuries when a person gets to my age and I don’t want to face old age with chronic pain or restricted movement. The world remains very stimulating and interesting to me and I keep the attitude that it exists for me to enjoy.
303: People such as yourselves are challenging the notion that they have nothing more to offer the world in their advanced age by dressing and being part of the fashion industry. Tell us more about challenging this notion and what it means to you.
JB: Challenging the notion that we have nothing to contribute is part of my mission. I live under two umbrellas. The first is to be part of the movement to change the perception of aging in our culture. The second is to improve the health of the millinery industry. This is my passion and my purpose. To be involved in this way improves my quality of life and therefore contributes to my longevity.
HS: I have really enjoyed meeting young models and actors and have so far not had one negative experience related to my age — or anything for that matter. I have made a lot of new friends as a result. I have tried to be a good example as a role model and actor — be professional at all times, be prepared, have an open mind, be polite and welcoming.
The major thing older people can offer is themselves as examples of how to live. Everyone is going to get old unless they die young, so I want to offer encouragement that being old doesn’t mean giving up one’s identity. Old people are still sexual, socially competent, good looking and fun to be around. We also have had life experiences that can be very helpful to hear about.
303: How do you maintain your health to let you live to the fullest? How do you stay young in mind?
JB: My health is my number one priority. Without my health, everything in life becomes more difficult. I eat a plant-based diet, practice yoga, exercise aerobically, meditate and live mindfully, nurture healthy relationships, receive acupuncture monthly and follow my passions. I am also curious and see learning as a life long adventure.
All of these lifestyle practices contribute to my physical, mental, cognitive and emotional health. However, there are so many possibilities that occur beyond my control. With that in mind, I do everything possible to increase the odds so that I am able to live a full, productive, interesting, challenging and energizing life.
HS: Exercise and eating right make a huge difference in maintaining health. I frequently have lunch at a club I belong to in Boulder that specializes in incredibly delicious healthy meals — Highland City Club. I like to cook and like almost all kinds of food so I can take care of myself food-wise just fine if I need to. Also, I spend a lot of time at the gym. I’m currently in a hypertrophy phase, so am building some muscle through a specific training routine designed to build muscle. Weight training is supposed to be the most effective way for older people to stay mobile and active. I am quite a fan of it.
I also love the outdoors hiking with my little Shih Tzu, Oso. He loves to hike, so fresh air, weight training, great diet, staying social and finding a little romance every once in a while is a good formula for staying healthy in old age.
303: What advice would you give to women who are scared of advancing in age?
JB: I would tell women that it’s important to educate yourself around ageism so that you are able to recognize when it occurs within yourself and when you see it happening outside of yourself. We all have an inner ageist because ageism is institutionalized in our culture. We can’t avoid it, but we can learn about the myths regarding aging and it’s all about mindset.
Embracing and accepting aging, according to new research, adds seven years to our lives. I would also say that embracing a passion and having a purpose contributes to our well being. We can’t stop aging, but we can put energy into continuing to live our lives how we choose to, despite how the larger culture views us.
We can continue to wear what we love and not pay attention to the lists that tell us what to wear at any age. There is support for these changes, and we do not need to fear our future selves. We are perfect the way that we are and worthy of self-care. I have believed for many years that we will know that we have conquered ageism when the skin of an eighty-year-old woman is considered as beautiful as that of a twenty-year-old woman. Just different. Until then, let us act as though it is.
303: If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
JB: Looking back over the years, I have few regrets for where I have been at any point in time. All experiences have lead to where I am today and it’s all part of my personal history. Practicing self-acceptance has become a daily practice, however, I would like to say to my younger self that boundaries are very important and to be open to all possible opportunities. Failure is a part of life and it presents openings for growth and most importantly, feel the fear and do it anyway.
HS: I realize now that I expected some really great things that happened to me to come around more than once and they didn’t. So, it is important to appreciate each moment of life. I would talk to other people more about what they mean to me and share my feelings more. It enhances experiences and relationships to talk about them. It adds more meaning to life and deepens the experience.
Boyd photography by Karson Hallaway.
Snooks photography by Ladd Forde, Christian Schilt, John Conroy and Claire Ostwald.