Belfast Telegraph

No matter how you dress it up, turning 50 is just not sexy

By Nuala McKeever

Some big milestones in life you don't want to know about before they happen. Like losing your job for the first time. Or being dropped by the guy/girl you thought had invited you out to propose marriage. Or making love/breakfast/an apple tart for the very last time with someone you treasure.

But other biggies ... well, I reckon it's good to build up to them.

2014. Say it out loud. This is the year! Not sure what it's the year of in Chinese terms, but in my terms, it's the year of turning 50 and that's such a huge thing. I'm starting to build up to the date, even though it's still six months away.

Turning 50. God, it sounds so BEIGE.

I'm currently reading a novel I read before about 15 years ago. The heroine refers to her boyfriend's mother as looking good for her age. The woman is 47. The implication is that anyone of her advanced years should be wrapped in a taupe cardi and sitting on a shelf, letting cobwebs develop while the young ones get on with having a life.

Bugger that!

I'm sure when I read the book for the first time, I probably agreed with the heroine, thinking, in that weird way that you do, 'Oh that'll never happen to me, I'll never be that age, I'll always be like this.'

The thing is, you DO become that age, but you still feel like this. You never feel like you've moved on, it just seems like others have moved backwards, people around you have got younger. You still see yourself as the norm, the median, the midpoint around which everyone else is either older or younger.

The fact that the majority of people are probably younger is something I've been noticing but trying to pretend is only a quirk of the particular moment or event or place.

"Of course they're all younger! I'm in the juice aisle at the supermarket. Juice is such a young person's thing. I'm sure if I moved to the egg department I'd find loads of older people."

I avoid the eggs, just in case my theory doesn't hold water.

So, 50. Half a century. Half way. (Of course, I'm going to live to 100 – have you seen all the juice I drink!?)

Forty seems like a week ago. For flip's sake, I've still got wrapping paper from some of the presents I got for my 40th! I only threw out the cards a couple of months ago. How can 10 whole years possibly have passed since I got that huge candle that's still sitting in exactly the same place I put it on the night of that party?!

So, 50 then. Fit at 50! Fabulous 50! Nifty 50!

No, I'm sorry. No matter how you try to dress it up, it's still not remotely sexy. Forty has a dash of "Life begins ..." potential glamour about it. Sixty is now the new 40 so even it's got some cache. But 50? It has neither newfound confidence nor just qualified for ironic mentions of free travel with bus pass. It's just so nothing. So middle. So BEIGE!!!!

I remember glimpsing a semi-naked woman of 50 in the changing rooms years ago and wondering what happened to a woman's body when she was so old. Did all the bits still exist? In the same shape?

Now I look at it every day in the mirror.

The good news is they do. More or less. The bad news is, no-one's looking.

Ah well, the wisdom of one's advanced years helps one cope with such disappointments. Ish.

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