Flash mob group encourages women to embrace aging

The group is dancing its way to self-acceptance.

Flash mob group encourages women to embrace aging
Ajumma EXP
ByJaylene Lopez and Nidhi Singh via logo
Video byNidhi Singh
May 5, 2023, 3:57 PM

Make way for Ajumma EXP, a flash mob group based in San Diego.

Donning visors and sweat suits, this mostly Korean American group of self-described middle-aged women wants to encourage other women to embrace getting older and to be able to laugh at themselves.

PHOTO: The idea for Ajumma EXP came from co-founder Lee Ann Kim's 47th birthday party.
The idea for Ajumma EXP came from co-founder Lee Ann Kim's 47th birthday party.
Ajumma EXP

"Ajumma" is a Korean term used for middle-aged women who focus on their family and home life. It is often used negatively toward women to imply that they are rude, unattractive and overbearing.

However, these ladies have taken it upon themselves to reappropriate the term and honor the fierce women who are proud ajummas.

Lee Ann Kim, co-founder of Ajumma EXP, says that the group started after her birthday party. She was turning 47 and had gotten all dressed up for the event.

Her friends showed up dressed as ajummas, with their visors, curly hair, comfortable shoes and un-matched clothes.

"It was hilarious. I couldn't believe that they did it. They put so much thought and work into this, and they brought me my own visor and my own wig. So, I went and rolled with it," said Kim.

PHOTO: Ajumma EXP performs flash mobs to flip the script on what it means to be middle aged.
Ajumma EXP performs flash mobs to flip the script on what it means to be middle aged.
Ajumma EXP

During their night on the town, Kim said she was surprised that the group wasn't really noticed by others. She began to think about how middle-aged women are often invisible in society. It made her reflect on the ways that women are viewed once they have aged.

"So I got together with Sonia [Chin, fellow co-founder of Ajumma EXP], because she was one of the masterminds of this little party. And I was like, it was so fun and so meaningful," said Kim.

"Yet, there's something more to this. That's where we [said], 'Hey, let's make this into a movement.' And that's how Ajumma EXP began."

PHOTO: Ajumma EXP is redefining what it means to be middle-aged.
Ajumma EXP is redefining what it means to be middle-aged.
Ajumma EXP

Chin said she wants younger women to look at this movement and welcome the thought of getting older.

"I think, if I were in my, you know, more youthful, 30s and 20s, and I saw this kind of a movement, that would make me look forward to that. It's not as bad as some imagery that's in my head," said Chin.

She added that she would like other middle-aged women "to embrace this moment in time in their life, and then to pause at that moment, and to look back and at their journey and say, 'Wow, a lot of stuff has happened to make me who I am today,'" said Chin.

"And oh my god, have fun with it," she added. "Don't be worried about, you know, wrinkles or what your hair looks like or what your clothes look like. Just just love who you are."