Six months before turning 55, I fall into a panic.
Every night I dream wrinkles wrinkling and muscles atrophying. And wake and stare into my closet full of short skirts and cowboy boots and wonder, can I still wear this uniform? Will I be mocked?
How can I not worry? Every day another story about a female actress 10 to 15 years younger than me, no longer young enough to be cast as love interest for male actors in their 50’s and 60’s. According to Amy Schumer, I am no longer f#*kable. I know it’s funny. Yeah, ha ha. But it’s only funny because everybody thinks it’s true. Which really pisses me off. Why is it okay for George Clooney to be sexual and not Madonna? Her body compared to his? She could bench press Clooney in her sleep.
I know. I know, first world problems. And yes, I am a feminist. Have always wanted to be respected for my mind first and foremost. I know I should be relieved not having to worry about the male glare glance gaze but all I can think when I walk down the street is, fuck respect for my mind, and why weren’t people on the street hitting on me as much? I want the option of rejecting their advances.
For months I worry. I fret. I stare at my face and body, hunting for changes. I start removing sexy things from my wardrobe. Bracing myself for the day my love and lover says our (fabulous) sex life is over because I have turned into my Gramma Rosie who at 55 had a stiff hair-sprayed gray cap and a pill box rattling in the pocket of her cotton schmatte and a glass jar in the bathroom where she kept her false teeth at night. And her arms. Oy. Those scary flaps, all that sad, deflated skin.
I feel myself giving in to the inevitability of my decline. And I hate it.
Then I wake up one morning about two months before my birthday and say f#*k that. F#*k the world telling me I can’t flaunt my sexuality because I’m not 28 anymore.
Next day I go on a strict high protein no sugar health regime, pumping all of my fears about aging into lifting weights and sweating. And yes I am swearing a lot about how hard and unfair it is, but slowly I get firmer and slightly leaner but most importantly stronger, swinging 30 lb kettlebells and hitting the mat for push-ups and jump squats several times a day. Two months go by and I hardly recognize my new/old self-emerging.
The day I turn 55, I do Shaun T’s Insanity Asylum Extreme cardio circuit workout, put my shortest, most form-fitting black dress and high heels on and strut down the street with my love and lover, and think, don’t these people checking me out know I am a feminist and an intellect?
You can find more from Gail on her website, www.gailkonopbaker.com