WHEN DID IT STOP BEING OKAY TO BE MIDDLE AGED?

When did it stop being okay to be middle aged? I started asking myself this question after all the criticism Susan Boyle received over her appearance. I was horrified by it. But the other day, I saw a picture of an old friend of mine from high school in a local magazine. My first reaction was shock over her old lady hairdo. It looked as though she and her elderly mother went to the same hairdresser. And they both came out with the same eighty year old’s hairstyle – my friend just didn’t get the blue rinse. I would like to say that I was immediately ashamed of myself, but I wasn’t. I consider my hair to be my crowning glory. I recently cut it all off so it could grow back in healthy. I had a recent health problem that caused some hair to fall out. I have very thick hair so no one but me could notice. But it drove me crazy. So, once the health problem was resolved, off came the hair. And I have become all but a recluse while I await the return of my long, lovely locks. And my hair is blond because I once heard that blond is more forgiving as you age. And it is true. Old women with dark hair usually look freakish compared to old women with blond hair. So where did it all start?

I blame Linda Evans, Joan Collins and the TV show Dynasty. Think about it. Sure, Pam and Sue Ellen were glamorous, but they were theoretically youngish. Miss Ellie was a proper middle aged, matronly type of woman. Go back. Did you ever expect to see Richie Cunningham’s mother to come bounding into the room wearing leotard and tights, hair in a pony tail, off to the gym for a good dancercise class? Of course not. And June Cleaver may have been a very pretty woman. But hair coifed in a very middle aged sort of style, pearls in place. Yes, I think Dynasty was a turning point. Here we had two glamorous women who set a new standard for all middle aged women. Suddenly it was not hip just to wear jeans for a trip to the grocery store. They couldn’t be “mom jeans” or you were just an embarrassment. My teenage daughter and I regularly raided each others wardrobe. I only once borrowed an article of my mother’s clothing. She had this cape. And I had a friend in the hospital. And someone had to smuggle the beer in for the poker game we had planned…

And I must admit, now that I am solidly middle age, I wish it was different. I would love to wear a pair of pants with an elastic waist. Comfortable shoes. Let my hair go gracefully gray. Screw mani pedis. And curse you Linda Evans and Joan Collins!

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