Fifty-Two

This was me last summer at the age of 51…

Yesterday I turned 52. It just blows my mind that I have been around for more than a half-century now, because I simply don’t feel that old. I know when my mother hit 50, I thought she was ancient. And yet, here I am, over 50 and feeling like someone in her early 30’s.

Let’s be real though. My fingers, elbows, and neck ache from arthritis which has crept upon me over the past few years. My skin sags in places it never did before. My neck is beginning to resemble a Shar-pei (you can even see the folds in the headshot here). And though I am the same weight I was when I was competing, and still hitting the gym six days a week, my body proportions are shifting in such a way that clothing items I have had for a while fit differently.

Before you tell me to quit my whining, please understand that everything is relative, and because I still participate in very image-driven industries (modeling and fitness), I hold myself to a certain standard which is beginning to elude my grasp. I have had to change my angles while shooting to accommodate the changes in my physique. Modeling had forced me to come to terms with my ever-aging physical form, and it’s been pretty brutal.

I experienced a major wake-up call last month, when I was going through items in my wardrobe for a four day photo shoot. As I tried on bikinis and dresses, I realized that several items either didn’t sit well on my body, or just flat out didn’t look good on me. It was incredibly frustrating, especially since some of the pieces I tried on had never been worn before and were purchased specifically for photo shoots. I just assumed that my body wouldn’t make the micro techtonic shifts it had. My waistline is ever so slightly larger, my hips wider, and my glutes are slowly deflating, just enough to make a bikini which once looked all right look like a high school hand-me-down.

As a 52 year old woman, I am more concerned than ever about the progression of my medical career, and have thrown new challenges at myself to make me a better practitioner. I’ve been thinking more about what will happen when I reach retirement age, and how I will manage financially. And though I have always been in excellent health, I am often struck with thoughts of “What if something happens to me?”, and “How will I die?”, both of which may sound like morbid thoughts, but I regard them as necessary.

My parents are in their 80’s and of course they will eventually pass on. Both of them mention how disappointed they are in me for not giving them grandchildren, as if it was my filial duty to do so. It irks me to no end, but I also feel pangs of guilt whenever I am berated by them. It’s not like I was trying to defy them by remaining childless. And now that the window of opportunity is forever closed for me, I wonder why I wasn’t meant to have children.

Although 50 may be the new 30, it still marks 50-plus years of life experience. And since there is more societal pressure to be more dynamic and more successful, hitting one’s 50’s can be downright depressing. For all of you over 50, HANG IN THERE!

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