Why Can’t 50 Be the New 50?
You don’t want to be the idiot you were at 21. Embrace change and keep learning.
I’m tired of hearing that “50 is the new 30,” “Orange is the new Black,” or “Ye is the new Kanye.” Why can’t 50 be the new 50, new be the new new, and Kanye just shut up?
I truly don’t want to be 20 or 30 or 40 again. I was a unique variety of disaster in each of those decades. Neither the major in Organic Chemistry nor the multi-level marketing leggings biz worked out. I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and it wasn’t twenty (thankfully).
“You look good for 50.” Translation: “Doesn’t your plastic surgeon brother give you free Botox?”
“You don’t look a day over 35.” Translation: “Those extra 50 pounds sure do keep those wrinkles at bay. In-N-Out burger?”
“Girl, you know what they say, ‘50 is the new 30'.” Translation: “You don’t look like an extra from The Walking Dead, or one of those shriveled dolls Laura Ingalls made from fallen apples, so you must be doin’ something right.” And don’t call me “girl.”
There is no need to belabor the world’s preoccupation with youth, women fighting aging, women lying about their age, or the crushing pressure to be, wish you were, or feel younger than you are. Women have internalized this narrative from birth. I imagine a chain-smoking pre-teen with her hand on her creaky hip writing in her diary, Judy Blume-style:
“Oy, I can’t believe I’m turning thirteen tomorrow! I must put away Hello Kitty, My Little Ponies, silver glitter, and other childish things. It’s time to embrace Junior High adulthood. It’s all downhill from here. But, I think Joey in second period likes me.”
Given this pressure to hate the warrior that is staring at us in the mirror and instead mourn our younger selves, we miss out on our present. We end up believing that after a certain age we can’t evolve, grow, learn, change or reinvent ourselves. It seems as if we go from one day waiting in the elementary school pick-up line waiting for our mini-me, to settling into a La-Z-Boy recliner, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in hand, watching dozens of Instagram reels of a stranger’s Yorkie crossing the rainbow bridge. How did we get here?