Privilege Blog

Fierce at 50, When You Are 20 Or 30

Once you hit 50 there’s only so much you have to work with in the fierce department. Those with inordinate style can just push forward as is. You know the ones. They own the perfect necklace from Uganda. Or the Lily Pulitzer shift dress that shows off their tennis-toned arms. Style comes in all political guises. The rest of us have to hope our 20-30 year old selves didn’t, rolling around in their young ignorance, trash our 50-year old beings. So here are a few words your 50-year old self would like to tell you.

1. Don’t diet any more. Please, please, please find a way to eat that can be sustained for years and year and years. 50-60 years. Because your metabolism will slow down. And what you eat now will make you put on weight later. You don’t want to be too heavy because your joints will hurt and your doctor will yell at you. So find a way to eat well. This will include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and chocolate. It will include very little fast food. Just do it. Don’t try to lose weight. Just find a way to eat well.

2. Appreciate your skin and your flesh and your hair because they will change. Put lovely-smelling unguents on them and hope for all that is promised. Spend only as much money as you are comfortable with.

3. Move around often. Don’t start running marathons unless you like them. They may wreck your knees anyway. Fidget. Take the stairs. Tap your feet. Walk to the market. 30 minutes a day of brisk walking ought to keep your body from disintegrating any faster than it will of its own accord.

4. Wear sunscreen. Not just at the beach. Or by the pool. Or in the desert. All the time. If you drive a car, especially wear it on the left side of your face. On your left hand. When I look in the mirror I see liplines and spots on the left side that I don’t have on the right side. Car damage. Wear sunscreen on your neck too. Amazingly, your neck isn’t as invisible to everyone else as it is to you.

5. Wear lots of tight pants and teeter around in high heels. Do it now. Go to bars full of people and dance where everyone can see you. Later in life you either will think it’s a really stupid idea and not worth the discomfort and so will have missed your chance, or you will regret not doing it and you will have to try it and you will wander around looking like you don’t know you are 50. You don’t want to wander around looking like you haven’t figured out your age. If you want to look like you like being 50, and think it’s fierce, all the better. But clueless is rarely a good look.

6. Follow fads. Dress as far on the edge as you are comfortable. By the time you are 50 if you dress on the edge people will automatically assume you are either an art gallery owner or a homeless person. By the time you are 50 you will be tiring of scanning your closet. You will be tiring of scanning fashion sites and looking to reinvent yourself. Unless of course you do it for a living. Otherwise you will want to have found a style that you like and you will want to stick to it. So experiment now. Even with perfume.

7. Travel. See the world. Do whatever it takes to realize that there is no one way to do anything. That the question of absolute moral right is a tough one for which many have died unnecessarily. Open your mouth a lot. This will mean you eat many foods, kiss a lot of men or women, take deep breaths and say what you want to say. And it will means that by 50 you will be spared the closed lip look of a woman who doesn’t like what she sees. Avoid pursed lips.

You don’t want to show up at 50 with regrets. And I find I regret what I didn’t do far more than what I did. After all, there’s almost always a path out of a wrong step, or if not, a way to heal in the days that follow. Whereas you lose the moment where you do not do it forever. In that way moments have of getting lost.

74 Responses

  1. What great wisdom you share! It is all true, even though it still made me laugh. In a couple of years I will turn 50. I don’t want to think about that right now. I love your last paragraph…I really should print it off and hang in where I will read it every day. Great post!!!!

  2. I LOVE this! In fact, I’m thinking of following it right now at 26. Thanks for a great post :)

  3. So, question: Does that last point hold true about employment too? If you can’t find something you quite love, should you keep looking, even if that makes your resume look more… “jumpy.” As they say. Or should you stick with it, and make it work. I think I know the answer, but I’m not 100% sure, and my inner dialogue is always chattering about this. So, from one almost 30 year old, to you.

  4. Meg, in my opinion, when you are only almost 30, jump. I believe that at your age, you can still say, this is what I am going to do next. By the time you are 40, it might be that that next thing has defined your life. But I don’t think has to be true at not-quite-30. Which is not to say I advocate leaping without looking. Homework is good, but, life is short. That’s not just an idiom. And when you are smart and educated and personable and awfully nice too, jobs aren’t so hard to find later in life as you might think. In my experience.

  5. I have been reading your blog obsessively since I found it but today was the first time I felt the need to comment – this was beautiful and eloquent and I may just print it out and hang it somewhere where I can read it every day. Thank you so much for sharing.

    – Yasmin

  6. I think you are right about a lot of things, but definitely the sunscreen on the hands and neck. I am a believer in that one.

  7. highlights:

    “You don’t want to wander around looking like you haven’t figured out your age.”

    “By the time you are 50 if you dress on the edge people will automatically assume you are either an art gallery owner or a homeless person.”

    …i often think these things while i am public and thank God i have personal awareness :)

    wonderful post!

  8. Thank you all so much for the kind words. I also wanted to say, I know I refer to men in one line, but I am in no way blocking out those with other preferences. Someone said a previous post was patriarchal. Life was pretty dang patriarchal in my youth so I am trying to learn new modes of language.

  9. Oh yay. This makes my whole day. THANK YOU for the advice. And I’m happy for your Meg advice too, for I’m worrying about the same things. Oh yay.

  10. Absolutely the best post we have read all day Miss LPC, you nailed it on so many fronts! Wow!

    The neck part is very funny, but appear to be true, and the pursed lips? Spot-on. And moving around more – painfully true!

    You really need to be doing a book, a magazine article at the very least. Seriously.

    Sending you grins and giggles for your weekend!

  11. props, lady.

    you are indeed wise. i found that the moment i turned thirty- bam!- there was my sense of my own mortality, and the understanding that a sequinned jumpsuit was never appropriate attire for a wedding.

    you are also funny. brava.

  12. I wish some wise woman would have written these words of wisdom to me, when I was in my youth. I’m going to make sure my daughters and granddaughters get this message. Thank you…thank you.

  13. this was a really nice post, i enjoyed this. i think i will take your advice about the experimenting in fashion because i do think my style is a bit subdued. :)

  14. In sum, put on those sequinned jumpsuits now, make sure you have a sense of humor later.

  15. Thank you! i dressed up in hotpants, went out, got tipsy, laughed, and had a fabulous time, i’m 26 but it was the first time i’d done it in ages! i had your voice in my head telling me not to care, sage advice indeed…

  16. You’re wonderful and wise and reading your blog is ever so comforting.

  17. Item six is what I live by – I’m very bad at all the rest, but I’m good at having adventures. xoxo

  18. I’ve been wearing at least spf15 since they invented it … I didn’t learn to drive until I was 35 … I STILL have more age spots on the left side of my face. Damn it!

  19. I quite late, I know, but I only just discovered your wonderful blog. The food thing is so true. After spending my teens and 20s not eating, I now have conditions that I will have to carefully watch. I think if I had known the outcome I would have just tried to be healthy instead of not eating at all. I do feel blessed that its not any worse and perhaps soon enough to counteract. Thank you for a great blog!

  20. LPC, I have been reading a while but I couldn't comment on my old computer, it didn't like blogger's embedded comment form. But here I am, and I had to say thank you for this one. A classic.

  21. It's still some years before I know whether you're right with this advice, but I suspect you are, and will take a punt and follow it. I like that for such an obviously sensible person, you're advocating the perfect degree of insensibility.

  22. Yes, that's true. I am advocating some insensibility. Because life is so big and wonderful, I hae come to believe that sometimes we have to put cognition aside and just move through it all. When I get uncomfortable with that, I think about it as gathering data…

  23. thanks for the advice. sorry for all the comments all in one go, I have finally had time to sit down & read today.

  24. What a wonderful post! I came over from Souris Mariage and ended up reading most all of your posts while my daughter was napping. I hope you don't mind, but I've printed it and stuck a copy in the journal I keep for her and will give to her when she is grown.

    I am 22, and everyone my age is perpetually tan despite the (north midwest) locale. I've never once been to a tanning booth, wear sunscreen whenever outdoors, and don't plan to change that. I tell them all I'll have the last laugh when I don't have sunspots and leather-skin thirty years from now. But I had never thought about driving, so perhaps I should consider that!

    I "teeter around in high heels" quite often, but I'll have to take your advice about dressing on the edge. I tend to be rather conservative in dress (especially since I find most of today's fashion quite dreadful) but once in a great while I do wonder how I'd feel if I just gave up and bought that sequin-covered dress or the jacket with the giant ruffle collar.

  25. Baker – I am so touched that you would want to give this to your daughter. Even though now she is still young enough to nap. So sweet. My own daughter read this, showed it to her friends. Having a daughter is something that even though mine is your age, I still don't really understand the full meaning of. The sequinned dress might be just wonderful. Especially if you escape the sun marks I have on my left hand:). Driving. Happy Holidays to you.

  26. Oh, thank you for this post! Loved it and will be linking to it. I too will be printing myself a copy. Looking forward to following you here.

  27. I just found your fantastic blog. I love it!! I am in my mid 30's, working my way up the corporate ladder and balancing that with my hunky husband and my precious 4 year old son. 2 years ago, I found my true self and have been living my life to the fullest since then. I dress and act as I please, loving every moment of this precious time that I have. You are very inspiring. Thank you.

  28. Thank you so much for blogging. I don't know if it's because you're not my mother or because my mother would never say these things, but I truely appreciate your thoughts and advice!

  29. Now this is advice I can live with! I just found my first gray hair today, and I needed to hear your message about appreciating your body in every stage, through every change. Thank you! :)

  30. I emailed this to my younger sister last week upon reading it. I love it, she loves it. I especially love the part about dieting. I’m under 30 and I’m already bored to tears with dieting. Thank you for your wisdom, LPC.

    1. Thank you Erin. It makes aging worthwhile, if one has learned something of value so the next generation does it better.

  31. I have a question about your tips # 5 and 6: What if you really hate being uncomfortable, and therefore almost never wear high heels? I am a super-duper Sturdy Gal in my early 30s, and love walking tons without my feet aching. I also already know that I like classic styles with a bit of color or unusual accessories thrown in for zing. Should I push myself to follow your suggestions, or accept myself as is? Thank you!!!

  32. I am a fiend for foot comfort. But high heels have a time and place. The next time you’re going to a fancy dinner, or a party where you can sit down any time you want, put on some heels. Sometimes you only need a few minutes, the right shoes, and a good venue.

  33. I love this blog already! This is the first article I’ve read and I am hooked. Your writing is so wittily written and as I am soon turning 25 I will definitely be following your advice.

  34. What an amazing post. I already agree with so much of what you’ve said and I’m 27. I think you should add to it a “You are not as fat as you think you are!”

    1. Thank you very much. And yes, please, you young ones, enjoy the bodies you’ve got. They’re gorgeous, I promise you.

  35. This post is incredible. Shared it on my Facebook wall in the hopes of generating a dialogue among my lady friends. :)

    Oh, and hell yeah to #1. Something about turning 30 and getting married last year got me to realize this.

  36. Incredibly wise words. Thanks for the great post, I hope you don’t mind I quoted you (and linked back).

  37. This is one amazing post. Wisdom for women. Of all ages. It isn’t over at 50 but you must adjust. I am just 54, work in a demanding, full-time career and started law school part-time at 50. It is never too late until you shuffle off this mortal coil . . . .

  38. When you are 60 keep dancing inspite of the knees and hips that don’t work as well… enjoy the flavors.. and don’t tell stories of your aches and pains… Increase those laugh lines with smiles, and laughter..

  39. BRILLIANT and well said!! At 50, and looking at 51 next week, I was musing just the other day over what I’ve managed to experience in my short years. While there are many experiences on the list that I haven’t gotten to yet, I am oh so happy for all the things I have checked off – including many that weren’t necessarily on the list, but I grabbed the opportunity when it was presented and wrote it on the list just to check it off. I did notice in my musings that a fair number of the list items simply require youth, so if I hesitated at the time, could not go back and emerse myself in them now. I hope many 20- & 30-somethings find this article and take the advice!

  40. I hit 50 a few weeks ago and decided to do some soul searching…… Half a decade wasted, worrying about just the things you wrote about. Wild high school years led to wild college years led to a career stunted by my business trip antics and less than stable personal life. 2 abortions and 37 men (yes, I counted) later, I’m left alone to face the twilight years. Please, focus on honor, self-respect, and personal dignity. Don’t worry about the superficial nonsense in this post. Worry about finding a life mate, a person to build memories with, someone you love more than you love yourself. I never did that, and now at 50, THAT is the regret I wish I could fix from my life as a 20-30 year old.

  41. Looking Back you said..” someone you love more than you love yourself.”
    I quite agree that about finding a mate but not with that part quoted.
    Because the moment you love a partner more than yourself that is a recipe for suicide if they let you down. We also need self-love. You are lucky you never experienced that.

    From what I heard from elderly ladies when I was around 30, you need a companion when you are around middle age.
    Interestingly you are at a great age to find a mate who can be a companion. Dont worry about love and affection that will come later, even if it doesnt, it will be alright.What is important is that you should be able to stand that person.

    It is all about being practical, and practical is what we are around this age.
    I believe some of us have outgrown fantasies of falling hopelessly in love and the “happy ever after” stuff. If this should happen that is all very well just like icing and cherry on top.
    To find a good mate is what is importtant.
    Iam 43 by the way.

  42. Glory hallelujah! I am SO sending this to my 20 year old daughter immediately! I am proud to say she is practicing every single one of your recommendations (except for the sunscreen, will work on that).

  43. For those of us who already ARE 50 it would be great to hear the words of advice from our (future) 80 year old selves.

  44. I so love this!! I will turn 40 next year and I started being aware of all these things! I didn’t wear high heels until I was 30! I was tall and also a nerd; now, I’m like, screw it! I will because I want to!

  45. Thank you, in exactly three months I will be 50 and all of these thoughts and many more have been running through my head. I am comfortable in my skin and I love my life but if only I could have told my 20 and 30 year old self a few things

Comments are closed.