The next person who tells me I look good for my age runs the risk of getting punched in the face. And maybe the person after that, too.
Seriously, I’m over it. Before you pass this off as some weird female midlife crisis thing, know this: hahaha!!!, the joke is on you! Odds are that I am well past the middle of my life.
My age is not a big deal to me personally. And except for a few of the rude things that happen after you hit the age of 50, I’m good with it. The only time I am at all aware of my age and the fact there is anything potentially “limiting” or maybe even “negative” about it is when other people mention it.
Maybe they mean it as a compliment when they say “for your age,” but it sure seems like a qualifier, as if the bar somehow lowers once you hit a certain age.
And maybe “for your age” doesn’t bother most people. Maybe I’m sensitive to it and its implications because I work in an appearance- and physical-performance-oriented industry. I don’t know.
I do know better than to let it get into my head, though. Even so, sometimes it makes its way inside. I can’t help it – I’m human. I try to stay positive and politically correct about “aging” and “ageism.” I try to keep it to myself and most of the time I walk it off.
Today, however, I’m not feeling politically correct. I’m not feeling motivational.
I’m feeling kind of pissy, to be honest. And tired of walking it off.
When you give air to things that feel disempowering they can actually become EMPOWERING. So maybe it’s time to talk about this.
I’m not a cougar. I’m a jaguar, son.
This whole for-your-age “thing” first erupted when I was in my early 40s, before I had any idea that “for my age” was even a “thing” or an issue. I remember the first time I heard it, because I was dumbfounded.
A guy in his 20s did that backhanded compliment thing that some guys do. He told me I looked good “for my age.”
WTF? Good for my age? WTF was he talking about?
I mean, I did look good for my age. But you know what else? Yes, I’m going to say it. I looked good for any age. In fact, not that it matters, but my abs were flatter than that punk’s abs.
Or how about the time just after I turned 50 when I competed in a figure show. Before my T-walk (when you walk onstage and do a little routine hitting various poses), the 30-something emcee told me to wait so he give me a special intro. Then he went on and on about what an inspiration I was, blahblahblah. How I was FIFTY YEARS OLD. Wasn’t it something that I was STILL competing? Wasn’t it SPECIAL?
I know he meant well, but I was like, WTF? I stood there listening to him, shaking my head. Seriously! WTF?
All I could think was: Why didn’t they just go ahead and get me a damn walker to make sure I didn’t break my hip while walking in my 5-inch heels?
And then I felt embarrassed.
For real, what had I done to be “inspirational”? Remain alive for 50 years doing the things I generally did as part of my normal everyday life? Was being one year older than I had been the previous year when I competed in the same show really THAT big a deal?
And then I thought: What was I supposed to do after an intro like that? March out on stage like Sally O’Malley and kick, stretch and kick? Uh uh. Not happening. Although I do love Sally.
I don’t plan to stop kicking ass. Or walking the talk.
Neither do the friends I’ve discussed this with. Because, trust me, when my friends find themselves entering this fun little circle, they express the same shock and dismay. I hope you haven’t experienced it, but if you have, high-fives to you. Welcome to the club.
I mean, what’s the option? Is there a viable option? It doesn’t compute. I’m not fighting my age. I’m just being myself. And I don’t want to be put in a “great for your age” box.
A few weeks ago there was a report circulating about how 60 is the new 40. Here’s a story about it. The more I think about it, the sillier “for your age” becomes, as pointed out in that piece.
Back in the 1980s, when my mom was 50, she played video games, loved to dance, wore acid-washed jeans, regularly received compliments on her great legs and she drove a turbo-charged Toyota Supra with the music up and the sunroof open. I think she even spiked her hair.
What was a 50-something woman supposed to be doing back then? Was it age-inappropriate for her to yell, “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” when she couldn’t see the TV past her college-aged daughter while playing Atari Shark Attack? (Honestly that was funny stuff. She loved that game.) Was it strange for a woman “her age” to blast a Eurythmics CD and sing out loud?
For my mom, that was completely normal.
What is a 50-something woman supposed to be doing in 2015? Tackle HIIT workouts and eat haddock, chicken, rice and veggies for a few weeks and then put on a bikini, get tanned and walk around on a stage wearing heels?
For me, that’s (kind of) normal. Competing is just part of the natural progression of my personal interest in fitness regardless of my age, and I’m sure that it’ll evolve into something else.
Like I said, “for my age” doesn’t compute. I don’t get it.
One thing I have found myself discussing more often (and in fact I probably should write about) is the tactical deployment of resources and strategies – whether they are workouts and diet or money and energy.
My newest thing is focusing on the energy I allow to come in to or flow out of my life, through both my own activities and the energy of people around me. I am growing more sensitive to this and how it influences and affects me. Maybe that is a legit “for your age” thing, because the more days I am alive, the more I am aware that my physical energy is a finite (but renewable daily) resource.
Or maybe it’s the fact I’ve been battling some bizarre (minor) health issues all related to my body’s use and production of energy.
I’m not gonna blow that energy on worrying about a bunch of bullshit limitations and qualifiers. And the “for your age” thing? It’s energy blocking AND it’s limiting. And, yes, it’s bullshit.
Judy Dench said, “One of the benefits of being a mature well-educated woman is that you’re not afraid of expletives. And you have no fear of putting a fool in his place.”
Fucking right, Judy. If you know me you know I am not afraid of expletives. And if you’ve heard me teach BodyCombat, you know there’s at least one “pity the fool” involved.
Or maybe to switch things up I should try a more elegant approach. My friend Laura has a pretty perfect response when someone tells her she looks good for her age (and as a 50-something ballerina, trust me, she just plain looks amazing).
“Thank you,” she tells them. “So do you.” She says it confuses the hell out of the 20-somethings.
What do you think? Is 60 the new 40? Does it even matter? Leave an comment and let’s talk!