Older women are showing off their accomplishments and contributions to society — defying outdated notions about aging. For some women over 55, life includes pushing the boundaries of age and gender altogether.
Google “amazing women over 55” and the top six results are about women whose beauty defies age — headlines like “The 50 Most Beautiful Women Over 50” and “50 Women Over 50 Who Have Aged Gracefully.” But, we know there’s more to women than just appearances.
Learn more about these amazing women over 55 who are doing (or have done) extraordinary things.
At the age of 65, Dr. Hawa Abdi, OBGYN, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, a non-governmental organization which she runs with her two daughters. According to the Huffington Post, the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation was “one of the first to open in war-torn Somalia, and has provided health care, services and education to more than 90,000 people in a country still divided by clan lines for more than two decades.”
The New York Times reports that Dr. Hawa Abdi’s programs discourage female genital mutilation and tackle tough issues of domestic abuse.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as “Grandma Moses,” is another older woman who tried her hand at a new skill and found success. Moses began painting at the age of 76 with no formal art training, but when she died at the age of 101 she was mourned as one of America’s most renowned artists.
In the last 25 years of her life she created more than a thousand paintings, some of which were exhibited abroad in Paris and Vienna, as well as here in the United States.
On February 9, 2017, astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson celebrated her 57th birthday in space. A seasoned astronaut, she is currently part of Expedition 50/51 — her third long-duration mission to the International Space Station. The mission, which began in 2016, gave Dr. Whitson the distinction of being the oldest woman in space.
According to NASA, with more than 450 days in space under her belt, Dr. Whitson is not only the oldest woman to journey beyond earth, she has also spent a longer amount of time in space than any other U.S. woman. However, this accomplished astronaut and biochemist isn’t all work. Dr. Whitson made headlines on Valentine’s Day with her prank on her Russian colleagues at the International Space Station.
According to Ranker, in 2013 Diana Nyad was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. The 100 mile swim took this 64-year-old 53 consecutive hours to complete.
From politicians like Hillary Clinton to media giants like Oprah Winfrey, older women continue to have a significant impact on arts, culture, exploration, health, politics and science, making it clear that for many American women the golden years are a time of accomplishment and celebration.
It’s not difficult to find amazing female writers over the age of 50 — Alice Munro, J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison are, according to this list, considered the top five living female writers (and all are over the age of 50). But, what makes Laura Ingalls Wilder unique is that she began writing her best-selling “Little House” series (adapted into the TV series “Little House on the Prairie”) when she was 64.
She passed away in 1957 at the age of 90, but Wilder is a testament to the fact that when it comes to trying something new, age is no boundary.
Veteran explorer Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch made the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person to reach the North Pole. She made the journey in August 2004 at the age of 89.
Do you have any other amazing women over 55 that you’d like to add to this list? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.