Poonam Bhagat discards ‘middle age’ in favour of turning 63
Designer Poonam Bhagat, age 63 for The Word. Magazine’s ‘The Ageless Series’
The Word.: How do the media and society perceive a woman over 50?
Poonam Bhagat: “Earlier, 50 was considered the so-called middle aged, but it’s not anymore. That said, some people still seem to think that by the time you turn 50 or 60 or beyond it, you should be knitting or sewing…I find it hilarious!
The idea that women above a certain age should have retired or sit at home, do housework, maybe rear grandchildren, is so dated. Thankfully, that has been changing over the last 10 years. I think the 50s and 60s are the new 30s and 40s.”
TW: How old are you and how old do you feel?
PB: “I’m going to be 63 actually on November 12, but I don’t feel older than 34 or 35. It’s all in the head.”
TW: What is the best thing about growing older?
PB: “I think the best thing that happens to you with age is liberation. By the time you hit your 50s and your 60s, you’re completely emancipated. You are who you are, and you’re very confident about the person you are. It gives you a certain sense of freedom to be exactly who you want to be instead of what the society wants you to be. You actually come into your own, which I absolutely love.”
TW: What happens to a woman’s love and her sex life after 50 or 60?
PB: “I think it largely depends on the woman. It also depends on how she perceives herself.
I have never had a problem…I have a soulmate whom I love dearly, and I don’t have a problem. I think it’s great and it’s becoming greater and better as I get older. I love it.”
TW: Do you think the world does enough to celebrate women above a certain age?
PB: “Well, the media has not done enough in the past, but I think they are now looking at women who are 50 and beyond, like The Word., for instance. We are even seeing women in their 60s and 70s and even 80s, who are modelling, which is such a wonderful thing. Things are changing, and I’m happy about that.”
TW: Do you love yourself more than you did a few decades ago?
PB: “I definitely love myself more now because I know myself better and I’m more confident. I really didn’t know where I was going when I was in my 20s—I thought I was the cat’s whiskers, which I wasn’t. In my 30s, I was completely confused, I had no idea where I was going. By the time I hit my 40s, I had a certain direction, but it was still very unclear.
By the time I hit 50, I knew where I was going. Now that I’m turning 63, I know exactly where I am and I love it. And I love the person I’ve become because of the experiences, whether they’re good or bad… Nobody can go through life on a plateau, you see? We all go through this rollercoaster ride, with the crest and hitting rock bottom. But it teaches you a lot about yourself and also about how to perceive people/the world. I think I’m a better person now than I ever was.”
TW: How has your personal style evolved over the years?
PB: “I think my personal style has evolved like anybody else’s does. I’ve become more minimalistic in my dressing. I enjoy wearing solid colors and long dresses, and I like to accessorise with one piece of jewellery or maybe two really big, chunky pieces. I also recycle my clothes, and have no problem wearing them again and again. I just don’t follow fashion blindly—I wear what suits me and my personality. I’m also very influenced by the Japanese aesthetics and the simple, uncluttered kind of look.
TW: What brings you joy?
PB: “It could be anything…a leaf on a tree or a bird singing outside my window, a good book, a good movie, the company of friends. I think joy comes from within. It’s the littlest things that excite me.
I’m very joyous to be here for this feature, for example. It’s been a wonderful, joyous day. So, every little thing can bring joy to you if you notice it.”
TW: And what makes you feel incredibly sexy?
PB: “Ah, so the body changes over time, but the mind becomes more attractive—that I fully believe. I find the mind sexier than anything else…the eyes, the mind, how you interact with people. I think that’s more sexy than just a body.”
TW: What does timeless mean to you?
PB: “Timeless is something that is forever, perennial, sustainable. It could be fashion, it could be memories, or a painting you’ve had forever. It could be anything you possess, whether something material or in the mind…something you would never ever think of disposing of.
That is timeless. And, of course, time spent with friends is timeless.”
TW: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?
PB: “If I could go back in time, I would choose better boyfriends. I wouldn’t be as foolish and as naive as I used to be; I would be more careful while growing up.
That said, I don’t think there’s anything else that I could have done, I don’t regret anything.”