To Those Who Wish Middle-aged Women Would Just Stay in Their Proper, Conforming Box

Here’s the age women should stop wearing skinny jeans, according to unscientific science.

10 Signs You’re Acting Too Young For Your Age

“What’s up with 40 year olds who look and act like they are in their 20s?”

Should We Act Our Age?

Old People Should Act Their Age

I cannot.

I will not.

And I hope, neither will you. 

The smell of the sea reaches us miles before we arrive at our spot, just the side of the road with little trails to the shore; the multi-hued sand particular to the northern California coast spreads onto the asphalt, clumps of seagrass fronds wave.

Visiting family stretches outside car doors and, with a short walk to the broad beach, inspects the sea with contentedly landlubber eyes. 

I am having a different experience, as if I’ve suddenly turned exiled sylkie, desperate for my hidden seal skin. 

Under sky brilliantly royal, with wind mild yet crisp, the sand beneath my feet begins mocking my human legs with its particular pull and grab. The task of walking turns me clumsy and coarse. I look for seals in the waves.

The crashing of blue-grey-green breakers topped with froths of ivory intoxicates. Sky, sea and sand seduce.

An overwhelming yearning takes over: to shed shoes, shed constraint, shed the roles of ‘civilized’ middle-aged woman at the beach. 

My body has grown dense, all this conforming, adapting, ‘behaving,’ in life. Roles: mother of grown sons, grandmother to two girls, wife, writer, artist, house-keeper, co-commander — beloved — yet, today, by the sparkling sea, societal roles sit heavy. 

It’s so rare, this standing at the vibrant ocean, letting daily life wait.

My niece will think I’m nuts. My sister-in-law might disapprove; my father-in-law will think I’m wild. Immature. Improper. 

Age Inappropriate.

Choking words.

Vibrancy, spontaneity, begin to pulse at the core where internal ‘I’ resides, louder, louder. Persistent. Exuberance of all things wild west coast, wild Pacific coast, rises.

Staying sedate is impossible, no matter my age. It’s this pulse. This amazingly gorgeous today. This insistent: now!

Shoes are off. 

I am off. 

Running! Joy bubbles up while embarrassment colors my cheeks.

Faster — outrun embarrassment. Outrun it all. Judgment from strangers. Pursed lips from family. Surveys about How To Behave When You’re Over Forty. 


The world of water beckons, I must run to it, I am being called.

The entire world beckons. We must run to it. We are being called.

The beauty of being alive on this planet overwhelms me, envelops me. The crisp, cold, salty embrace of the ocean, it’s freezing, exhilarating, all over my legs and thighs. Froth and salt splashing up, across, soaking entirely my skirt, my shirt, my face.

I don’t care. I am too busy loving this. Feeling fully alive. My smile just won’t stop.

Running along at the meeting of wave and sand, the low-slung sun lights the sea with millions of diamond-like sparkles. Pelicans dip and swirl, seagulls screech and soar, children up and down the beach splash and play. One middle-aged woman does, too.


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Comment by Anna Herrington on August 12, 2016 at 8:15am

Happy Friday, folks ~

Comment by Rosigami on August 12, 2016 at 8:28am

Thank you for saying what I feel, too- and doing it so beautifully with actions, words and pictures. 

Comment by alsoknownas on August 12, 2016 at 8:30am

Youth is wasted on the young.

Comment by Carole Dixon on August 12, 2016 at 8:55am
Comment by lorianne on August 12, 2016 at 9:27am

after 50 i was gleeful as i found myself becoming invisible, until i realized i was just visible enough to still be judged. Damn it! 

Comment by koshersalaami on August 12, 2016 at 9:30am
I have two responses to this, both in your favor.

The first is analytical. What any generation looks like at a particular age is often different from what the previous generation(s) looked like at the same age. "Acting your age" often means "acting like a previous generation did when they were your age and so people think that's what your current age should look like." It doesn't work like that. What determines what we look like (physically, behaviorally) is much more dependent on who we are than on how old we are. This comes from a book I read that influenced me more than most have called Generations. One of its points is that what determines what we look like at a particular stage is a lot less dependent on the station than it is on the train.

The second is more emotional. Who the Hell gets to make these decisions for you? What you do, when and where you run, how you dress are your decisions and no one else's. My advice to you is never to give strangers power over your life for no reason. Are you worried about approval of people you don't know? Why? They don't get a vote unless you give them one, and I would strongly suggest you don't give them one. In your case, maybe it's people you do know. Do your sister in law and father in law get to determine what you do? Do you determine what they do? Embarrassment why? Let yourself feel embarrassed when you violate your own standards. Screw theirs. It is neither their place nor their right to control you. I'm not suggesting you resent them if they do, I'm suggesting you simply don't play.
Comment by JMac1949 Today on August 12, 2016 at 9:42am

Retired and no longer part of the work force, estranged from my family, living in a room in a suburb of LA, I am effectively invisible... If I don't call, no one except my younger brother calls me.  I'm wondering, is it me or them.  Life goes on.

Comment by Zanelle on August 12, 2016 at 9:49am

Loved this!!!  Soaking wet and zig zagging through the waves.. Wheeeee...!  I can feel your joy.

Comment by nerd cred on August 12, 2016 at 12:22pm

Here’s the age women should stop wearing skinny jeans, according to unscientific science: 0

No one should ever wear those stupid things.

But when you're old you just don't have to care about those things anymore. Maybe it's the invisibility. Maybe it's wisdom

Nice writing.

Comment by nerd cred on August 12, 2016 at 12:23pm

Really nice pictures, too. 8-)


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