My Heroines: 7 Women Who Kick Butt at 70 Plus

Life is not over at 30!

My Heroines: 7 Women Who Kick Butt at 70 Plus

Marilyn Lightstone

It's hard to avoid the subject of aging nowadays. Just pick up a magazine, surf the net, or read comments on Facebook—it's a safe bet someone (20, 40, or 50) somewhere will be lamenting the fact that they are getting older. Products are being invented to make us look ten years younger, and I keep wondering why, oh why, our society thinks aging is such a terrible thing. I say no matter how old (or young) you are, celebrate the decades, learn from living, and be glad you are still here. Your boobs might not be as perky anymore, but life is really not over at 30. And if you need a few role models to inspire you, here are seven women who are perfect examples of serious butt-kicking well into their 70s. These women are great role models!

1. Grandma Moses: Born Anna Mary Robertson Moses, this famous American painter was at heart and in action a no-nonsense farm woman. What makes her a fabulous role model to those who think life is over at retirement is that she began her career at the ripe young age of 75. It was only when her hands became too crippled to do needlework that she taught herself to paint. Today, she is well remembered via her delightful primitive art hanging in museums all over the world. It's interesting to note that Grandma Moses tended to shrug off her wonderful talents. One of her favourite sayings was, "A primitive artist is an amateur whose work sells."  This American naive-style painter died at 101 years of age. 

2. Marilyn Lightstone: She's Canadian, an award-winning actress, visual artist, writer, singer, broadcaster, and (disclaimer) also my dear friend; however, it doesn't stop there. At 73, this multi-talented woman hosts "Nocturne," a nightly radio show of music and poetry readings on classical 96.3FM, and just recently has embarked on yet another project. In collaboration with a team of design architects, Marilyn has donated her complete body of art work to dress the patient lounges at St Joseph's, her local Toronto community hospital. A wonderful role model!

3. Golda Meir: She  was born in Kiev (Ukraine), emigrated to Milwaukee, and then settled in Israel. She was a teacher and a diplomat who never let age get in her way. When she reached her seventh decade, she wrote, "Being 70 is certainly not a sin."  Then, at 71, she became the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, serving for six years of the country's historyno easy task in the Middle East. Though Golda Meir was tough, she proved she had a real sense of humour. This witty quote stands out in one of her many speeches: "Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us forty years through the desert to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil." 

4. Dr. Ruth Westheimer: American sex therapist who is 85 years old and still going strong. Her 1980 radio talk show all about sex was the first of its kind on US radio, and now, the latest of her 36 books was just recently published. Today this lovable grandmother continues to counsel on her own YouTube Channel where she discusses topics like masturbation in the same nonchalant way someone else would offer a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. P.S. Watch her review of Fifty Shades of Grey. Her enthusiasm makes me smile!

5. Dame Maggie Smith: This British Actress is 81 years old and still hard at work. During her long career she has won two Oscars, three Emmys, and a Tony award. In her 70s she starred in two delightful box office hitsThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet. Today we know her best as Downton Abby's formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham, a role she took on when she was 76 years young. Watch Maggie Smith's best moments hereall in her 70s.

6. Ernestine Sheperd: According to the Guiness Book of World Records, at the age of 73 and 74 this former model was declared the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world. Today, at 77, Sheperd still works as a personal trainer and leads exercise classes in her Maryland gym, Energy Fitness. I think this woman never had a "flabby" moment in her life.

7. Margaret Manning: Born in London, now living in Switzerland, Margaret is not yet 70, but even at 65 I believe she belongs in this list of kick-butt women. Margaret morphed from a career in marketing and sales to conquering the digital world. As creator and community manager of the website, she promotes positive aging in women. Recently Margaret created a series of free videos designed to teach older women how to apply their makeup in a way that is both subtle and becoming. I watched the first one and really liked what I saw. She’s advocating looking and feeling great in natural ways and at any age.

If you liked this, you might also like: "Dear Media, You Suck at Creating Real Heroines," and "You're Over 60? Do You Recognize These Wacky Products?"


You're Over 60? Do You Recognize These Wacky Products?

Under 60? You'll see what your moms had to contend with

You're Over 60? Do You Recognize These Wacky Products?

cough drops

This post is my tribute to mothers and grandmothers who are old enough to recall these ancient artifacts of days gone by. A girlfriend recently sent me one of those emails that you are supposed to pass on to all your friends. I didn't do that. Instead, I thought I'd share it in this Aging Disgracefully blog space, because that's where many of my "cyber oldies" congregate. I knew that they would appreciate the nostalgia relating to these items. However, if you are part of my younger readership, welcome! I've explained what each of these artifacts is. Now, you all can have a good giggle, as well as appreciate what we moms and grandmoms had to contend with back then. 


A Gestetner machine (the brand name) was often referred to as a mimeograph machine or duplicating machine or even ditto machine. It looks like some sort of torture apparatus, but really it was used pre-Xerox machines to make copies of an original. As a working mom, I used one when I was a primary school teacher creating work sheets for my students, and as a camp director putting together camper newsletters. Duplicating was done via a purple ink with an unforgettable strange smell. Just crank the handle and you could create one copy per rotation. 


These plastic pants were a staple in every baby's wardrobe. They were designed to wear over cloth diapers (that's all we ever had) that were held in place by diaper pins. There was really little absorbency in those cloth diapers. They were put on, rubber pants followed, baby peed, and a little "steam room" was created. Need I say more? P.S. Every week a diaper service came by to collect soiled diapers mothers kept in a big canvas bag and replaced them with a week's clean supply. If I remember correctly, my Montreal service was called, Wee Folks Diaper Service. Anybody else remember theirs?


Toni Home Permanents cost $1.25 per kit and were all the rage beginning in the Fifties. They were also the bane of my pre-teen existence. When I was eleven, my mother decided that I should go from perfectly straight hair (so unfashionable) to lovely curly hair (so fashionable). The Toni box she chose came equipped with rollers and bobby pins, so you could create the kind of look you wanted. I remember that curling solution burning my scalp, and finding out that my mother (bless her) was not really a talented hairdresser. Once she had finished the job and I looked in the mirror, I definitely had thoughts of doing myself in. Check out this Toni commercialI think you will enjoy it! 


Speaking of hair, this lovely contraption was my hairdryer in my teenage years. Just plug it in, put on the oh-so-stylish cap, and try to adjust the air temperature that blew into it. Then sit there and sit there and sit there reading movie magazines until your hair finally dried. I remember red welts on my neck from the too hot air seeping from under that lovely, glamorous plastic bonnet. The pain women endure to be beautiful lives on. Right?


This, too, looks like some form of torture machine and in a way it was. You didn't just pop your clothes in, put your feet up, and let the washing machine go through its cycles. Nope! You filled the tub with water from two hosesone attached to the hot water tap of your sink, the other to the cold. Then you started the machine and washed the clothes in detergent for as long as you liked. Next step, you attached yet another draining pipe from your machine to your sink basin and emptied the dirty wash water. After that, Mom (always, Mom) filled the tub with rinse water and repeated the draining process. Finally, you turned on the ominous roller section at the top of the machine, took each soaking wet item out, and passed it through the roller until all the water was squeezed out. When that last step was completed, you hung your clothes on the clothes line with wooden pegs. It was a full morning's work. All I can say is, God bless today's washing machines. 


Today's kiddies use Skype, Facebook, and their iPhone to communicate with their gal pals or their boy crushes.  We had only the Alexander Graham Bell-type dial telephones then, and we talked on it to our friends (especially boyfriends) for hours every day. Often, we couldn't get "a line" to speak on, because our "party line" (another household that used the same connection) was using the telephone when we wanted it. What was really interesting was that even though we could listen in to any of our party line's conversations, we just didn't. It was considered poor etiquette to eavesdrop. Compare that to today's wiretapping. Have we really come a long way, Babes? P.S. I still remember my telephone number back then. It was, Talon (TA) 6670. Do you remember yours?

Check out these unique Mother's Day gifts for the unique mom who has no desire for flowers, chocolates, or diamonds. 

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