Reaching Embarrassing Auntie Age

The older you get, the less strength you can muster to give a flying fig about most things. And I say muster up the strength because it literally is that—it’s more than just not caring. It’s just that you don’t have the strength to care, to think deeply about what other people think of you.

As you get older, it’s not just your body that hurts—your brain hurts as well. Thinking hurts.

Hands up, how many people don’t care? You don’t care what people say, you don’t care what people think about you, you don’t care how you look anymore. Hands up, how many of those people are under the age of 45?

Let me tell you this for free: when you start hitting or getting towards the age of 50, that ‘don’t care’ attitude will triple. Whatever you don’t care about now, triple it because that’s where I’m at.

It’s like an overnight thing. The day before you turn 46, you care about things, and then you turn 46 and you literally cannot muster the strength to care. And it increases in magnitude. That’s why your nans will say whatever they like, whenever they like, however they like—they literally don’t care.

My neighbour, I would visit her every so often, pop in to say hello, have a cup of tea with her, and discuss plants because we both liked plants. My neighbour would say things like, “Oh Bess, did you see my flags hanging out in the garden yesterday?” And her flags were her knickers! She’d say, “My knickers are so big they look like flags.” I was just her neighbour, and she was like 40 years older than me, talking about her knickers. She didn’t care. She didn’t have the strength to care or to think about whether or not I cared.

I loved my neighbour. She taught me so much, and I miss her terribly because she’s passed away now. But yeah, that’s just it—you care less as you get older.

The other day—oh, and I fear that not having the strength to care is quite a tricky place to be in because you end up doing and saying all sorts of things—I was invited to a bridal shower. A really fancy bridal shower held in this luxurious café, which is to be expected with everything being about social media and Instagram-worthy aesthetics. How times change, eh? These young ladies are all so fancy and organised. They have games, MCs, and fancy food, and it’s called a bridal shower. We knew nothing of that ain my time.

Anyway, she took us to this fancy café, and I was invited as the auntie. The average age of the girls there was about 28, so I was in the auntie section.

There were five of us aunties, and I knew I was an auntie because they introduced me as Auntie Bess. From then onwards, all the girls would refer to me as Auntie Bess: “Auntie Bess, come and sit over here. Auntie Bess, come and take a photograph. Auntie Bess, you can go to the buffet corner now.”

And if that wasn’t enough, we were actually sitting in an auntie corner, like when you have a kids’ corner. There were five of us at our own table, and all these young, beautiful girls in short skirts, showing cleavage and lots of skin, made me feel more and more like an auntie.

I don’t have the confidence, and even if I wanted to, nobody wants to see my varicose veins on show. So yes, I sat in the auntie corner quite happily, and we had auntie chat.

Anyway, I’m sat there with these four other aunties, one being the bride’s mum, and I had brought my content creation kit. It consists of a sturdy tripod, a DSLR camera, and big, bold, bright lighting. Everything is big and showy, which I emphasise because most people just use an inexpensive, easy, portable tripod and their phones to take photos.

But oh no, not me. I have a massive photographer’s kit, very conspicuous, and it takes about 5-10 minutes to set up. I carry all this around in one of those cabin suitcases. It’s completely conspicuous and kind of weird. My neighbours always ask me where I’m going, thinking I’m travelling. I don’t argue with them; I just answer vaguely, saying it’s work-related. And that’s not a lie, but they think I’m going on a business trip when really, I’m just going to some fancy street in London to record myself wearing fancy clothes.

Strangely enough, on this day, I decided to take content in front of a group of people at an event, which I don’t usually do. It’s weird to me. But every time I go out, I want to do it. At the last party, a woman in her 60s or 70s was taking content with her phone and a portable tripod, and I thought, “I wish I had the confidence.” So this time, I did it. I got out my tripod, my camera, set up the lighting, and everything, and stood in the corner.

I really felt like an auntie. All these 20-something gorgeous girls with their smooth, shiny skin on show watching the auntie do something no one else would do. In that moment, I realised I had reached embarrassing auntie age, standing there with my tripod, posing.

Normal people would just hand over their phone and say, “Take pictures of me.” Not me. I’ve got a whole photographer’s set-up in the middle of this relatively tiny space, fitting 25 to 30 people, maybe 80 squashed up, in front of everyone without a care in the world.

Although, that’s what this world is all about, really. Others might say I’m being obnoxious, self absorbed but I have reached auntie age, and I don’t care.

And you don’t have to reach auntie age to be like that. We can be like that at any age. We live in the age of social media, where we are expected to take content. The reason I don’t hand someone my phone is because they’ll get it wrong. Case in point: I was taking selfies, and someone said, “No, give me your phone.” When I got my phone back, the photos were atrocious—blurry, awful angles.

I don’t let anybody take my photo anymore. I want my face in the location I want, looking how I want. So yeah, I think we need to normalise that. We need to normalise taking our own content wherever we want, and I will be doing much more of that at functions. You will see me with all my photographer’s equipment, taking my own content.

It’s all about embracing who you are and not caring what others think, no matter your age. Let’s be unapologetic about our choices and celebrate our independence, whether we’re 28 or 58. Here’s to owning our moments and capturing them just the way we like.


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@bessobarotimiSounds silly but honestly take lots of photo so you can remember what it was like and be happy that you didn’t waste your youth♬ original sound – bessobarotimi

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