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Now in her 70s and exuding happiness and confidence, Suzi Grant recalls of turning 50: “I was in total denial about my age and started to feel invisible – I could cope with older age but not middle age.”
As a broadcaster, author and blogger, Suzi’s background is in radio, television and writing health books, having also trained as nutritionist. Suzi is now best-known for her platform Alternative Ageing and has been featured on BBC Radio and the pages of the New York Times for embracing the ageing process. She has nearly 40,000 followers on Instagram, nearly 20,000 followers on YouTube, a has written a number of wonderful book including, Alternative Ageing: How to Stay Looking and Feeling Younger For Longer. She started her blog in late 2014 to write about and share all the things she loves and has experience of, including health and nutrition, fashion and style, and travel and lifestyle. From plenty of tips on how to look stylish on a budget to video tutorials, health articles and easy recipes for looking good and feeling great, Suzi’s mantra is all about positive ageing – and this is not to be mistaken for anti-ageing (but more on that later).
However, like most stories, Suzi has had a few bumps in the road on her journey to stepping into her confidence.
“I think women in their 50s become invisible,” Suzi explains. “That’s when it hit me”.
Suzi says it was the only landmark birthday that she hated, explaining that there’s something about middle age that she struggles to cope with.
“I can cope with older age but not middle age, so I ran away for my 50th. I was sent to a spa retreat in Thailand for work. My friend ruined it all and sent me pack from England saying happy 50th. My thought was, ‘Oh fuck off, I don’t want to know how old I am’.”
When the milestone birthday shook Suzi’s confidence, she made a major change, uprooted her life and moved from London to Brighton.
“In my very early 50s, I moved to Brighton and that’s when my life changed. I was busy writing books, I was treating people for nutrition, and I found my kind of people [in Brighton]. I could walk to yoga every day, sit on the beach afterwards, I don’t know how I had so much time. Changing where I lived and having a new start changed my life. I think that’s the way to go. Find a new start. That might be leaving an unhappy marriage. It might be moving house, it might be moving country, it might be changing job. I think the secret is, if you’re feeling like that, you’ve got to change something.
“Also, I was lucky enough to be financially able to retire at 60. I tried all sorts of things that I thought I might enjoy. Like novel writing. I went on a script writing course. I did all sorts of courses and things that would give me something to do. A friend told me when I retired at 60 that I’d be bored rigid in two years. And he was absolutely right. And I still can’t imagine not working.
“After my god children suggested I start a blog, it was a very natural progression to creating content for me. I sort of came full circle because it’s everything that I’ve done all of my life. I went to conferences and met other bloggers and I’m still friends with a couple of them to this day. It was a huge learning curve for the first couple of years. I realised my business cards were really old fashioned. My website was really old fashioned. I had to learn how to edit on iMovie, I had to learn how to do better photography. So, there’s a huge learning process.”
When we ask Suzi about feeling invisible and how she overcame that, she simply says, “Why should we be invisible?”
Suzi explains that she overcame her confidence and invisibility by making a change, finding “her place” and dressing up and wearing brighter colours.
“The most important thing for ageing positively is being happy. So, you’ve got to do what makes you happy,” she reveals.
“I’ve always been a bit exuberant with my dressing. But I went to my extreme when I moved to Brighton because here it’s all about colour. People do wear headscarves, they do wear wacky glasses, they do dress up.”
“You’re never too old to start something new. And I say, don’t accept ageist labels. Yes, your body will start getting slower, we can’t work at the same pace, but I like calling myself well over 60 and the focus is on well – I am well, and I am well over 60. Don’t let people put you in box just because you’re well over 50. Just be yourself.”
Having built a social media following of people wanting to hear about her tips when it comes to ageing happily and healthily in your own way, Suzie uses her platform, Alternative Ageing, to empower others to be happy in the skin they’re in.
“Every day on social media I get a message from somebody telling me that I'm inspiring them to try something new, to dress in a different way, to start wearing more colour or go naturally grey. I feel like it's the most important job in the world now,” she said.
Here is a round-up of Suzi’s top tips for stepping into your confidence and embracing positive ageing.
“I think sharing the love and complimenting people is important. If you see someone looking wonderful, tell them. If someone compliments me, it makes my day and I’m happy and smiling and confident for the rest of the day.”
“It’s all about looking the very best you can – not turning back the years – and more importantly, how you feel inside.
“I’m not about people trying to look younger. Why should we look younger? We are the age we are. The phrase I would use is, looking the very best you can. I mean, I have embraced my grey hair. I’ve embraced my wrinkles, to a certain extent. I will say publicly, ‘Oh my I’m looking droopy, I wonder if I should get a facelift?’ But I don’t really mean it. I want to look the best I can without the sagging jowls and the horrors of everything dropping but on the other hand I don’t want to have surgery. But I'm not saying never, if that's what people want to do, go for it. What I would advise people is to be happy in the skin they’re in and find their own style. I’m just very grateful and thrilled that I’m alive and healthy. It's a privilege to be ageing."
“If you are depressed about getting older, look to older women for inspiration. Iris Apfel is my role model. She’s 100 and looks amazing because she has her own style.
“I have a lot of girls in the 20s say to me, ‘I hope I’m like you when I grow up’. It’s so inspiring to me because somebody must’ve inspired me to be like this - probably my aunty. We need more role models. Old age is suddenly very trendy, and it makes me so happy. Can we see more older people now, please? I get my fair share of campaigns but I’m always the token one and it used to be the token person of colour, the token person with a disability. There’s still a way to go but we’re getting there. I’m totally anti-ageism.”
“I trained as a nutritionist, so this is a big one for me. Eating clean is very high on my list of priorities. And exercise, even if it’s just walking. My 10,000 steps per day is now essential otherwise I don’t sleep well. And I do weights every day. I only do a 10-minute workout but it’s better than nothing. I don’t think you can feel happy and confident in yourself if your health is suffering and you’re not looking after yourself properly.”
“The basis of everything is a healthy mind and body and then you can look at style. The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone is to be on your own in front a mirror and try on everything and see if it really looks good on you. Use a really good friend, or a daughter or aunt. I did this with my goddaughter and I held everything up and it was a quick ‘oh yes’ or ‘oh no’. It’s little things like do V-necks or round necks suit you? Get your colours done. What looks good next to your skin? If I wear the right colours, people will say I look really well and if I wear the wrong colours they don’t say anything.”
“You have to keep current with things, it’s part of my positive ageing message. I listen to music, I go to gigs, I refuse to let my brain become an “old” brain. The fact that I’ve found [work] that I’m passionate about and that keeps my mind active, is amazing. I can’t imagine not working. I understand learning new things is frightening too, though, I hate new things as much as the first person. When my agent said that Reels [on Instagram] was the next BIG thing, I really freaked out and now I absolutely love doing a Reel. You have to be in the right frame of mind.”
Have you experienced road blocks when it comes to your confidence and knowing what to do next? Why not consider signing up to one of our free online courses. Unlocking Your Potential will help you to better understand yourself, your goals and self-worth. The course will also offer guidance on how to more effectively manage your time, energy and personal effectiveness.