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Is Personal Agency Only for the Young?

How Dare You

By Judey Kalchik Published 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - December 2023

I am angry.

This week I was Threading through Threads and came across a post from a woman that said, among other things:

"How can I make my mother stop coloring her hair and just go grey? She's 62 and not fooling anyone; she and her friends are old and it's time that she acts her age."

Oh, hell no.

Let's Unpack This, Shall We?

First of all, let me express my sympathies to this unnamed woman. No; not the one that posted, the one that birthed her.

Honey, I am sure you did your best, but sometimes things just backfire and... well- this happens.

Please know that it wasn't due to any trauma you may have inadvertently delivered when she was younger: it had nothing to do with the car you drove, or the kiss goodbye in front of their friends, or playing disco music in the background while they were on the phone with their friends.

Your daughter is just rude. Asking this type of thing on a public forum is out of line.


Next: young woman: personal agency and autonomy is difficult for anyone to exert, and women in particular have been working together for years to exert theirs in the face of roaring opposition from virtually every 'authority figure' that exists.

And now you go and join them against your mother? Not cool.

It's AGEISM?!?

Women already are told what they can and can't do, and now you are jumping in to remake your mom in the image you want to see? Here are some of the foolishness she and the rest of her generation has already had to get through- none of which you needed to face:

1966: Indira Gandhi became the first female Prime Minister of a present-day G20 country

1967: the first time a woman ran in the Boston Marathon

1969: a woman became a commercial pilot in the Western world.

1972: the first female rabbi in the United States was fully ordained.

1973: the first year women could serve on a jury in all 50 of the United States.

1974: Women could get a credit card and open a bank account without a male's co-signature and in their own name for the first time.

1975: the first time a woman reached the summit of Mount Everest.

1976: the first time a woman competed in the Indianapolis 500

1977: the first time women could take legal action against workplace sexual harassment

1978: the first year a woman couldn't get fired from a job if they got pregnant.

1980: the first time a woman was ordained a bishop in the United Methodist Church

1981: the first female US Ambassador to the United Nations

1984: Barbra Streisand became the first woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director.

1987: Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1989: I needed my husband's permission to have my tubes tied (true story)

1993: the first year women could legally say 'NO' to sex with their husband was when spousal rape was criminalized in all 50 United States.

1997: the first female U.S. Secretary of State

2000: Martha Stewart became the first self-made female billionaire.

2010: The first time an Oscar for Best Director was given to a woman.

And Now?

And now comes you. In your wisdom you want to tell her how to live her life? Put her into a box of YOUR design, looking the way YOU want her to look, acting the way YOU think she should act?

I am ashamed for you, since you don't seem to have the sense to be ashamed of yourself (update: the Thread has since been deleted... I take minimal credit for that, but I do accept some credit).

Listen: the women of previous generations have the same rights that you do: to live their life in the way they want to live it.

We all have (IMO) one chance to live. As long as it hurts no one else: to take the risks we dare, wear the clothes we wish, have sex with whomever, whenever, and for as long as we want, to work in the careers that call us, express the opinions we hold dear.

Your mother, like all women, can choose to color her hair or not, wear it long or shave it off, wear short skirts or slacks, makeup or no, pierce her ears or tongue, get tattoos or have a tummy tuck.

It is her life.

You, sweetheart, are a dear and precious part of that life. But she was herself before she had you, and she is herself now, too.

Unless she asks for your opinion you don't get to have a say on what color her hair is. You don't have a say on her acting her age, whatever nonsense that might mean to you.

I hope, when you are her age, no one tries to force you into their idea of who, what, or how you should be. In fact, all of us women of her generation wish the world is an easier place for women by then, and that you would be free of all of those presumptions once and for all.


Comments, as always, are gladly welcomed!

pop culturerelationshipspoliticslisthistorygender rolesfeminismbodybeauty

About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (27)

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  • Bohemian Birdabout a month ago

    Loved reading this! I feel the same! Thank you for sharing! 😊

  • U gave her a very good put in ur place moment which had a great educational purpose that she should see as a gift.a lesson Is worth much more than thr basic insult or just comeback. Iived it.and that was very tasteless that she commented about her mother. But I guess we know how she will feel about herself at that blessing of an age. I'm only 45 but see how folks aways are determining others worth and image.smh

  • Kenny Penn3 months ago

    I feel this so strongly for my own mother and my sister. Society as a whole needs to get out of a woman’s business and let her be who she wants to be. And really? The daughter?? Whatever happened to honoring your mother?

  • Julygwynet3 months ago

    This is a great story. I enjoyed this story. If you want to read my story then visit this link

  • Mubashira Kachhot3 months ago


  • Daniel Stevens3 months ago

    Just as you hold your opinion this young lady may also rightfully hold her own opinion (a opinion exists only in the subjective realm). What makes you the arbiter of what is right and what is wrong. Also how the hell did a piece of literature with a clear sexist remark get to the top ratings. YES BUT OFCOURSE A NEGATIVE ATTROBUTE IN A WOMAN IS A MANS FAULT???????

  • Durga Chikh3 months ago

    nice work

  • Lamar Wiggins3 months ago

    Well, it needed to be said. I hope the woman who wrote the original post, learned a thing or two. She has no valid argument or rebuttal. And most importantly fails to realize that she too, one day, may be faced with the same outrageous suggestions. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)3 months ago

    I love this Judey!! I the authenticity and rawness of the way you responded, but only that. I love that you brought history and facts with you to the party, really telling this woman what she's doing, actually educating the ignorant and I absolutely am all here for it!! Amazing work and congrats on Top Story!!

  • I just really want to find out that this daughter has tattoos, body piercings or anything else that parents once thought horrible & body mutilation rather than self-expression. In our town there is an elderly woman who dyes her hair hot pink. Yes, it startles me every time I see her & my eyes take a few moments to adjust, but I absolutely love her for it. Not to mention that she is a perpetual motion energy of absolute joy!

  • Shirley Belk3 months ago

    BRAVO!!!! My ex used to want me to color the grey away. I'm sporting the grey now because I WANT it that way. I like it much better. My prerogative. Hope she learned her lesson :)

  • Mark Gagnon3 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story, Judy! I agree with much of what you wrote. My only rebuttal to this is all the amazing accomplishments you've listed by these women were because of their intellect and perseverance, not their hair color or make-up. Maybe as time progresses women will be confident in their natural selves and reject the the cosmetic industry brainwashing.

  • Melissa Ingoldsby3 months ago

    I love your strength and truly supportive nature you have about women and the way women can feel about their bodies (and make their own choices regardless)and their agency has evolved over the years.

  • Tressa Rose3 months ago

    That made me sad to read that I was already born by the time the rape by husband's law was l made. I still remember my ex-husband's words to me after I confronted him. He said "I can't rape you, you're my wife..." No sir, you can't, ever again. And I am 34 and still love doing my hair in crazy colors, don't see that changing anytime soon. Great job making top story! Well deserved!

  • Phil Flannery3 months ago

    Very well said. Sometimes a history lesson is needed. Good work. I don't dare have an opinion about the choices my wife and daughters make. Sadly I have to admit I had to learn that. I'm glad this got top story, Have a great Christmas.

  • Gerald Holmes3 months ago

    MIC DROP !!!!!!! love, LOVE, LOVED THIS! What you said about 1989 shocked me. Congrats on a great Top Story

  • Caroline Jane3 months ago

    Boom! Every which way and Wednesday. Congratulations. ❤💥❤

  • Just to completely agree with you Judey

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    Back to say congrats on the TS.

  • Babs Iverson3 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!!

  • Celia in Underland3 months ago

    Seriously? She needs a metaphorical slap! One day she's going to be old; here's hoping she grows out of her bratty meaness!

  • Lol, I wonder how she would feel when in the future, her daughter says the same thing to her. Karma is a bitch

  • Ace Melee3 months ago

    Every woman and everyone deserves to have their agency. Her mother can do whatever she likes, and her daughter wants to be rude about it-- that's the daughter's problem. Women's agency has led to the progression of our rights, leadership, law, and society. If people don't like this side of us, too bad, so sad.

  • This comment has been deleted

  • Hannah Moore3 months ago

    I think it's hard for kids to adjust to aging parents. Just like as parents we have expectations of how being the parents of a child should be, as adult children, we expect things of our parents. We also, hopefully, get over it when those expectations miss the mark. But I suspect she may well have got this from her mother - are you going out like that? Do you really want that pudding? You're so pretty, you'll be fighting the boys off. Etc. We don't to our girls and don't even notice it. I once told my young daughter she should consider selling her hugs! Jesus! Yeah, she got it wrong, and it's ok to get it wrong in public, sometimes that's how we recognise that we do - for example, I feel like your use of "sweetheart" to refer to a younger woman, whilst deliberately chosen to be patronising, perpetuates the use of language which fosters a patriarchal positioning of women which is unhelpful from another woman. Which isn't to say I never use it...

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