50 is the New 40

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Why has American culture put even more pressure on aging people to look and be younger? (approx. 730 words)

Submitted: April 03, 2012

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Submitted: April 03, 2012




Today’s 50 is the New 40




When did that turn up on the menu? How did my generation get the shit-end of THAT stick?


There are websites devoted to this concept. Many of them run by women. Shocking, to me. Do 50 year old women find it OK to be expected to look 40? Really?


There were a couple of websites that purported to be talking about how women should “feel”. That feeling forty, when turning fifty, was the real goal. How one woman could expect another woman to attempt that, without considering what they saw in the mirror, how they LOOKED, is simply unrealistic.


Speaking as a man, I say HELL NO to the whole idea. I’m 52 (sorry, but with minimal effort in front of the mirror in the morning, I happen to look 40ish…what am I gonna do? Complain? Good genes are FINALLY paying off, say I).


The upper class has access to so much of what is now a common component of our culture: the health industry. Healthy eating is much more mainstream, gyms dot every strip mall, products for skin and hair care line aisles and aisles of most pharmacies not in South Dakota. The exercise industry is through the roof. Personal trainers are more common than a Gary Busey mug shot.


But, and it’s a big ‘BUTT’, most of these amenities are out of the average American’s price range, especially today, where fringe, peripheral things like ‘looking better’ have been jettisoned in favor of food and electricity.


How does a nation filled with vain adults come to grips with this? We watch TV and see a bevy of beautiful 40 somethings striding down Hollywood’s red carpet, strutting their stuff, preening, puffing their chest out. And those are just the men.


Women have it twice as bad. For every 3 Brad Pitts, there are 45 Cameron Diaz’s; tall, lithesome, blonde, sexy, and right out of the shower able to bring a man to his knees, wet hair and all.


Sure, there have always been those that hit the genetic lottery right at birth. Fair enough. They should not be faulted. In fact, we shouldn’t fault the men and women who strain to recapture their youth; who work out, run, eat right, and do indeed look ten years younger than their age. More power to ‘em.


My beef? How could we be “expected’ to look that way? Where did this originate? It is a full frontal attack on the vanity of the boomer generation, and we apparently had no say in the matter.


For every Jennifer Aniston, there is a Kirstie Alley. For every J-Lo, there is a Aretha Franklin, for every George Clooney, there is a John Goodman. But we are led to believe that we should be forever youthful. While raising children, while holding down a job, while tending to a needy husband’s (or wife), well…needs.


The pressure to be SuperWoman must be intense. I know there is less peer pressure among men simply because we have never cared as much as women do about how we look. Gay men, of course, excepted.


I do know this. When I encounter a woman who looks good at 50, and looks her age, that is as sexy as anything or anyone out there. Because with those fifty years, and those crows feet, and the wrinkled brow, and bags under the eyes, comes wisdom, smarts, toughness and a confidence born simply from having been through the wars.


You can have the silicon boobs and the tight ass. I’ll take the knowing smile, the tawdry wink, and the mystery that seems to surround many middle aged women.



“Love is lovelier the second time around
Just as wonderful with both feet on the ground
It's that second time you hear your love song sung
Makes you think perhaps that love, like youth, is wasted on the young”


The Second Time Around – Frank Sinatra


And Frank also sang:


“A long night, what a long night it has been
The wheelers and the dealers, they win
I've tasted the 90-proof gin and chased it away with the blues
I rarely paid debts that I owed, but I sure have paid my dues
No daylight, just a long night, for me”


Hard to do a Mark Spitz in the Fountain of Youth when you live that way.

Which I have.



© Copyright 2019 Bill Rayburn. All rights reserved.

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