“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”― Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
Many words can be used to identify me. Black. Woman. Kind. Friend. Middle-age. Curious. Plus-size. Liberal. Short. Writer. Passionate. Sagittarius. Single. Tattooed. Introvert. Daughter. Procrastinator. New Yorker.
I’ve been most of these things for a significant portion of my life. Except, middle-aged. Even though I’m at the tail end of my forties, as I #JourneyToL*, figuring out how to navigate this new world is liberating, but often times feels scary. Being a Black woman already has its own challenges in a racist and patriarchal/misogynist society, but adding ageism and weight prejudice to a thin/youth obsessed culture and it gives me even more to think about.
Such as the outburst of profanity Snoop directed at then 65 year old Gayle King in 2020 and the unfortunate number of people who co-signed his disrespect. Or, when I need to open my home to a repair person, I feel a new level of vulnerability that wasn’t there before. Climate change, the pandemic, government ineffectiveness affects multiple populations but impacts the senior population even more severely.
With my birthday at the end of the year and having skipped a grade in school, I was used to being the youngest in most environments. Now, at my 9-to-5, on a team of seven, I’m tied for the oldest – including management. When I started my career, one of my colleagues was in kindergarten! I’m online constantly, not just for entertainment, but to try and stay aware of and understanding the ever-changing language and technology. It’s also helped me to find new communities – Fly, Hip & Ageless, Black Girls Guide to Menopause, AARP – Black Community.
And even with the things that concern me, I’m excited to have more wisdom, confidence and financial stability to move forward into this next decade. Count me as one who wants to see more coverage exalting “40 Over 40” versus those only focused on “40 and Under”… with members like Ava DuVernay, Mara Brock Akil, Halle Berry, Tabitha Brown, Dr. Yaba Blay, Jada Pinkett Smith, Rebecca Walker, April Ryan, Sunny Hostin and so many others… the 40 and Over Club was not too bad, so 50+ has got to be lit.
I know the day is coming when someone who is not a child of one of my friends, calls me Auntie or Ms. Kim. I think I’m ready, but much like when you discover grey hair where you least expected it, you never know how it’ll feel until it happens. And regarding those grey hairs, advice that I also got from reading Nora Ephron..invest in multiple tweezers now. Trust me on this.
I’ll have a lot more to write about aging, but with the recent passings of several of friends’ parents and celebrities, I said to a friend the other day, “our generation are now the adults in the room. Fuck.” I’m positive more than half of us don’t know what we’re doing. Fingers crossed.
*turning 50 in 2022.
How are you approaching growing older? What are your hopes and concerns? Please leave feedback in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you!
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