Let’s talk some smack about aging process and hitting milestone birthdays, finding gray hair and the fact that when we bend over to get something we hear at least 8 different bones crack. What is the “old threshold?” I remember when my uncle Herb turned 40. I was in my early 20s and I thought “holy shit he’s old.” Only he wasn’t. I think it was right then that I knew chronologically we are just a number. My mother had a husband, three daughters and a house by the time she was 28. But the time I was 28, I’d been kicked out of a country, was on my third tattoo and had a fat cat and a chihuahua with a chip on her shoulder.
Not much has changed since then except now I have a fat dog with a chip on his shoulder. I’ve said this before, the whole deadline thing has never been on my radar. Mostly because I’m a horrible planner and plead the whole “let’s live in the moment” thing. However, with each birthday, appearances change. I start to notice a wrinkle, or I squint while driving at night. It takes a couple of minutes to grease up the squeaks of my bones when I crawl out of bed looking like the crypt keeper each morning. Then come the doctors’ “reminders.” Breast exams, colonoscopies and bone density tests. While some of my younger friends are getting wedding “save the dates” and baby shower invites, I’m getting pics of my older friends’ grandkids who are asking if I’m in menopause yet. You and me — we are too young for all that. Only we’re not. Not technically anyway.
I will be 50 this year and I don’t know what 50 is supposed to feel like. I do know I physically feel the same as I did when I was 40. Maybe even 35. Truth be told I feel BETTER than I did when I was 40. I feel stronger and more comfortable. I feel confident and powerful. I feel like it’s more acceptable for women to be athletic and lift weights and still be feminine and attractive. My mother certainly wasn’t flipping 200 lb tires over in a parking lot or hurling loaded barbells around a gym. I’m pretty grateful to have these opportunities. Physically we women pay lots of god damn money to look good and let it be known, we don’t do it for men. We do it for ourselves. I take pride in my appearance, most days. I’m either all sorts of extra with my high heels, big hair and a fabulous faux fur or I’m in sweats, no makeup looking like a hobo about to catch the the last caboose out of some rural town in Tennessee. There is no in between. However, as I age I want to look good.
I am absolutely aware of my vanity. My father reminds me often. He is a simple man who just doesn’t understand all the aesthetics. Having had three daughters who were the embodiment of everything 80s you will have thought that somehow, amidst the haze of Aqua Net, he’d have caught on. And he most certainly will never understand nor agree with my love affair with the needle. The one that gives me fuller lips and rounded cheeks. The one that delivers a smooth flawless forehead and eliminates that little angry 11 between your eyebrows. No one talks about it but don’t be fooled. We all do it. And I have zero shame in admitting it.
I’m not trying to look 29 or even 39. Just a better version of 49. However, I fear that I’ll cross that boundary where I think I look fine but in reality I will look like a retired drag queen who’s had one too many hits of Botox and who’s eyes are pulled so tight that if I sneeze, my face will snap off and stick to a nearby wall.
We all do it, we just don’t talk about it. I do. I’ll tell anyone within earshot that I’ve had a little assistance from my beloved medi-esthetician. I have “people.” I have my facialist, my massage therapist and about 15 super talented hairdressers to choose from at work. Is it vanity? Or self care? I know there are moms are there who want to slap me across the face with a loaded diaper asking “when would you like me to fit anything like that into my schedule??” I have plenty of mom friends who do. They make self care part of their routine because it’s important to feel good about ourselves.
I see you all. I see you caring for your families. You are the CEOs of your homes. You run that shit efficiently like a well-oiled machine. Don’t forget who you are. Remember when you used to get pedicures? And blowouts? Remember how good you felt after a massage or a long facial? You’re still that woman, don’t forget to remind her that buried under all your kids college applications, the sporting events you taxi them to all over the place and keeping the household together and working full time, you still deserve to feel good about herself.
Don’t have time? Make it. It’s not selfish. We “middle aged” women are collectivity in a very cool and sexy category. I’m excited for 50 although you may not be able to tell due to the amount of Botox in my face, but I am. We have no business giving up. We can’t settle for barely pulling ourselves together on a daily basis because, as my sister says, “who am I trying to impress?”
Yourself damnit!! If I see another grown woman at the grocery store in flannel pajama bottoms, Ugg slippers and a sweatshirt with airbrushed kittens on them, I may blow a gasket. Get it together ladies. You’re better than this. Impress YOURSELF. Feel pretty. Be desirable. I am not saying pop into CVS with a black cocktail dress on and silk stockings, but you earned it. The world can wait a bit for you to do something nice for yourself. It’s a good feeling. Self care is about putting forward the best you. Not just what’s left of you. So whatever makes you feel good, do it. Wear it, paint it, inject it, just rock it because we are not our mothers at 50.
We are a newer, more independent, powerful herd of tough and sassy broads. Step aside, because 50 is here.
Michelle is originally from Malden, Massachusetts and now resides in Falmouth (Cape Cod) with her two beloved dogs. She has been a hairstylist for many years and works in a popular spa in downtown Falmouth. She loves Crossfit, her dogs (any dogs for that matter) and Oreos.