Old Before Her Time by Katherine Barrett (Summary and Reflection)

Katherine Barrett’s Old Before Her Time is an article that tells experiences and lessons from a life of gray hairs. It was written based on the story of Patty Moore, an industrial designer who often focuses on elderly, and who happened to transform her looks to become 85 years old using make up and other stuffs. In her journey as an 85-year old woman, she narrated how hard life of old people were. Through her experiment she tasted how to be ignored and left out by people in times she badly needs assistance, beaten up by kids to take her purse, jostled by a woman that made her nearly got out of balance in splotches of snow, and thrown pebbles by kids as if she’s not a human. In two years of disguising, she encountered different stories of gray hairs such as: a woman beaten by her husband and afraid to tell it to her children, three women who experiences lack of physical affection from people they love, and a man who tried his best to move on after her wife closed her curtain. Barrett did not forget to include certain realizations from her journey like: old people always ignored by people, the fear of crime is paralyzing, small thoughtless deficiencies in design make the life of old people harder, even 50-year-old-marriage doesn’t guarantee happiness, social classes affect the respect for old people, even we get old we still need to feel loved, and lastly, life does go on if you’re flexible and open to change. In the end, she concluded that our bodies could age, but inside we are really no different from what we are when we were young.

Reading the first paragraph gave a suggestive meaning that the selection is fiction. It was mentioned that Patty has an extraordinary voyage – a time travel journey. Then she unfolded that it became possible because of make-up and other prosthetics. With all honesty, her work touches my heart and made me feel guilty about aged people. Saddened I am to know how hurtful it was to have a life of a gray hair. Her bad experiences when she’s in her get-up as an oldie and how she internalized and assumed herself to be a real 85-year-old woman, these were all dramatically heart breaking. The question, what if I also become old and would experience the same thing?  People in her story are all self-centered, and not sensitive enough to extend their hands to those who need help. I don’t want to be stoned by kids and not to be treated like a human after all, or to have my purse stolen by group of people after beating me up just because I am old and useless. How could this be done to an oldie worthy enough to be respected and cared by everyone? I suggest that her work must be read by any ages for them to realize that aged people need extra love and attention. We commonly think that they are fine with how we treat them, but we are wrong. As they gain numbers in their age, they become more sensitive and emotional.  How I wish people would realized what I have realized after reading this.


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