As a woman of a certain age, my primary life goal at this moment is to evade the lure of Auntie-ism. What is Auntie-ism? Glad you asked. It’s when a woman over 40, whether an actual auntie or not, begins to dress, behave, look and sound like one of their beloved aunts. It starts with the sweats, or that favorite pair of yoga pants. And if you’re not careful it can escalate to the notorious “mom jeans” or even a moo-moo dress. Once it sets in, constant and inappropriately timed complaints about bad knees and hot flashes are soon to follow.

I was introduced to this term by my daughter. Oh, out the mouths of babes.  We were about to do some shopping and I threw on a pair of loose pants and a colorful flowery top, all ready to go, when she stopped in her tracks.

“Oh no, ma. You are not coming with me looking like that. You look Auntie-ish!” she informed me. “Well that’s ok because I AM an auntie!” I reminded her. “I know” she responded with her sassy self. “But you don’t have to look like one!”

Confused and frustrated, I demanded to know exactly what was so wrong with looking like an auntie. My aunties are awesome and hers are not so bad, either! “Ma” she sighed. “It just means that you look like you don’t care, like you’ve just well, given up.” I wanted to ignore her. She’s only 21 and although she thinks she knows everything, believe me, she does not. But her statement gave me pause.

Photo: Helen L. Collen

When she wasn’t looking, I took a long hard look at myself, from head to toe. On my head, I wore an ill-fitting baseball cap. My ears bore no earrings, my face had no makeup. My top was the aforementioned colorful flowery situation, which was, in my opinion, fine but the bra underneath was not offering me much support. (At least I was wearing a bra I rationalized. I have an aunt who has just stopped wearing a bra. As in she doesn’t wear them at all anymore. Not for nothing or nobody. She didn’t even wear one to my wedding!) My pants were a loose fitting light blue that tapered at the bottom. Plus they matched my top. And what was wrong with a pair of cute kitten heels?

I mean, what did this woman-child want from me? That’s when it dawned on me. My daughter just wanted me to be, well, ME! When she was growing up, I was the fun mom, the cute mom, the chill mom. I loved lipstick and high heels and tight jeans!  My cleavage was often on full display alternating with my lovely legs. I enjoyed fashion, read the magazines she brought home, and tried to stay hip.

But when my daughter – my main source for all things contemporary – went away to college I suppose I sorta started slipping. In my mind, my work was done. I could relax. Be comfortable. Trouble is, I became too comfortable. I became Auntie-ish.

This madness stops today!  I, Kerika Fields Nalty, vow from this day onward, to avoid Auntie -ism at all costs. And, I’m inviting you to join me. Yes, you. Oh, you don’t think so? Stop what you’re doing and locate the nearest mirror. Take it all in, sis. If the kitten heel fits…I’m just saying.

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Photo: Giphy

Here Are 7 Things We All Can Do To Avoid Auntie-ism:

1. Just Say No to Kitten Heels! Is there ever a reason to be 0.3 inches off the ground? It’s a full heel, a mule, or a flat. And that’ s that!

2. Watch it with the wigs. I know they are convenient and can be cute but the wrong cut, length or color will have you looking like Madea outchea.

3. If you are leaving the house you are putting on a bra, whether you like it or not! Do you hear me? They make bras without the underwire these days, which offer comfort and support so there is no excuse. Don’t make me punch you.

4. Keep complaints about your ailments to yourself. The only people that need to hear about your hurting hip or your wonky knee are your doctor and your pastor so spare us, especially since they are the only ones who can help you anyway. Say Amen somebody.

5. Be open to new things. I know we grew up in the hey day of hip-hop but there’s a whole other world out there. Cardi B, anybody?

6. Mind your makeup. Nobody needs to have their face beat to the gawds just to go grocery shopping, but there are B &B creams that offer moisture, coverage and SPF protection all in one tube. Get chu some!

7. Monitor the mustache. And your nose hairs. And your chin whiskers. And you know this.

All in all, avoiding Auntie-ism is all about attitude. It’s about moving into maturity with a little fun a little funk and a lot of fearlessness. Because we all love our favorite Aunties. We just don’t want to become them.


Find out why MsXFactor’s contributing Beauty Editor, Corynne Corbett, is writing beauty for grown women.



Kerika Fields Nalty
Author +Photographer+ Wife+Mother+Brooklynite+World Citizen=Wildflower who takes laughter seriously. It is not a joke.