Did you guys see that article in the New York Times about how middle-aged women aren’t allowed to have long hair? Really? Who knew? I didn’t get the memo, and neither apparently did those women you see at state fairs all over the country whose hair is below their butts.
But anyway, the thing that jumped out at me was not the writer’s perception of the judgments and assumptions people make about older women with long hair–they’re walking anachronisms who persist on playing a romantic game they’ve clearly aged out of–but the fact that the writer is 55 and calls herself middle-aged.
Now, I’m not going to be the one who tells her she’s not, but I will point out that the average lifespan of a woman in this country is almost 81, which means dead center middle-aged would be something like 40. Pad either side by five years (assuming most of us die and so stop caring about our hair somewhere between 70 and 90) and that means you’re middle aged between 35 and 45. What are you at 55? Since almost no one lives to be 110, the answer is…I have no earthly idea, but not middle-aged.
Look, I get it. I’m 43, and statistically speaking middle-aged, but I’m not in a huge hurry to embrace that term, associated as it is with stultifyingly cliched concerns like which dishwasher detergent will leave you with streak-free glasses, or whether one’s husband’s recent purchase of a two-seater sports car is but the first in a series of crisis moves that will end in hair plugs and most likely divorce.
So I can understand why someone who is 55 might not want to call herself whatever term might be a bit more accurate. Maybe the thinking is, As long as no one is using the term middle aged–because those of us who are middle-aged are pretending it doesn’t apply in the same way we pretend we don’t need reading glasses–in the spirit of 50 is the new 35, why shouldn’t the 50-plus crowd adopt it as its own?
More likely, though, I suspect the phenom is more analogous to vanity sizing–the way no matter how many chocolate covered macadamias you eat, and no matter how many new pairs of pants you have to buy because you Just. Can’t. Get. The Button. To meet. The hole! you’ll always be a size 12 at Banana Republic.
Right. Vanity aging. And you know what? I think I might be OK with that. Thoughts?