The thing about labels is that even though they might seem to limit you (if you are conscientious of being boxed in) they may also set you free in unexpected ways. One, by offering you the comfort of inclusivity that almost everyone is looking out for at every stage of life (unless you fall into the rebel with or without a cause category). Kind of similar to being a part of a collection which might be eclectic for its stitch and style, but has a few odd ball pieces which may not typically fit the bill, but well, they slip into being a part of the statement collectible by virtue of default settings. Two, even if you don’t necessarily fit the assumed stereotype, you ride the wave.
As a millennial (born between 1981 to 1996) I thrive while being a part of ‘the student of life academy’, and even though the Cheugy hating Generation Z (born between 1997 to 2012) might roll their eyes sizing me up in their Y2K screaming outfits, I hope my somewhat generous attitude towards all the trauma we all seem to have collectively endured over the past few years, falls into the category of “it’s giving”.
The days seem numbered though for the brilliantly imagined memes, reels, and Tik-Toks dedicated to this supposed show-down between the two generations, because there is a new kid on the block who has been around longer than both of us, and may just be the MVP in this game of labels and branding. Say hello to YOLD—the old-young generation giving the boot to ageism in their 50s to 70s. Let me just put it this way: there’s much ado about age at a time when the sky has room for a lot and in this time of quiet-quitting and silent-suffering is also healing (good news alert: ozone layer is on track to recover in the coming decades). And in Charles Dickens quotable quote form, circa 2023, “It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times”.
Look at the content around you with the most shares besides that of people dancing in obvious abandonment or pranking each other, almost all content creators and comedians turn to their viral subject at home for timeless relatability. And what do these ‘older’ subjects do in turn—applaud them without going into therapy, and in some cases take themselves to therapy because they are willing to throw bias and age out of the window. If you are done with being called too young, they are done with being called too old. A viral TikTok trend from last year ‘Turning my mom into me’ which has found its way on the gram this year shows how clothes and make up play a pivotal role in how old you appear to be. No surprise here that there is a willingness that fashion brands are showing that embraces ‘age positivity’.
At the Golden Globes this year, when Michelle Yeoh took to the stage to accept her award for ‘Best Actress’, she said, “I turned 60 last year. And I think all of you women understand this that as days, years, and the numbers get bigger it seems like opportunities start to get smaller as well. I probably was at a time when I thought that, “Come on girl you had a really, really good run…Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Danny Boyle, and so, it’s all good, it’s all good. And then along came the best gift: Everything, Everywhere All At Once.” Interrupted by the time’s up Golden Globes music to which she says, “Shut up please, I can beat you up, and that is serious.” Going on to eloquently finish what she wanted to say.
Chutzpah, vibe, ethereal affability, Yeoh destroys the notion of being old. And like her, there are others who are not letting age define them, as they purposefully lead, redefining cool in the most superlative of ways.
When 53-year old Jennifer Lopez dropped her latest project, “This is Me… Now,” last year, set for release in 2023, it came with a video that showed her in her “This Is Me Then” era 20 years ago, while metamorphosing into present day J.Lo.
What’s not to love about this resolve that celebrates ageing and the life lessons that come with it? Especially when people are living longer—the world’s population is projected to reach 9.9 billion by 2050 where almost 21% (2.1 billion) will be over 60 years of age. In a study conducted by the Journal of the Korean Society of Clothing and Textiles it was found that casual style became diversified and segmented gradually in Korean middle-aged men with them embracing slimmer silhouettes, bright colours and patterns, active and functional wear, and staying trend forward.
A full circle moment at a time when circular economy and circular fashion are trending, alongwith life’s totem of endless possibilities, with YOLD’s on the rise, they are showing us anxiety-ridden millennials and Gen Zs, how it has actually always been done.