You Don’t Look a Day Over…

2 days to 50.

Yesterday at the gym I ran into a friend who did the Kundalini teacher training with me. We’ve been casual friends at the gym for a long time. I’d text her when I needed her to sign up for a spin bike for me at the most popular classes and she’d do the same. Spending 9 months together in an intensive yoga training program definitely brought us closer.

I asked if she was free on Thursday night and told her it was my 50th birthday and that a few of us were meeting for drinks downtown. She immediately gushed her congratulations and told me (as they all tell me) that I don’t look 50. To which I always reply,

This is what 50 looks like.

My friend (who is very spiritually aware) didn’t flinch at this, but most people tend to be offended by this answer. I think that I’m supposed to just smile politely and thank them profusely for the compliment. What kind of a compliment is that anyway? Why should people be ALLOWED to comment on how old I do or do not look? Did I somehow give everyone I come into contact with permission to visually scan me up and down and determine my approximate age? Has anyone ever said that someone looks older than they are?

This false sense of flattery doesn’t help anyone. I find that it doesn’t really matter how old you are, if you tell someone else (especially a woman) how old you are they will automatically exclaim,

That’s not possible, you don’t look a day over {5 – 10 years less than your real age}.

This phrase always rings hollow for me, and insincere. Yes, I might not look like a lot of women they know who are 50. I spend hours every day at the gym. I eat well and use a lot of sunscreen. But this is what 50 looks like. I can see 50 on me from 3 blocks away.

I’ve come to equate this behavior, this forced age flattery with catcalls from construction workers. Just as any woman dreads being verbally accosted walking down the street by men in overalls and hard hats, I’ve come to dread the auto-flattery response. I feel like if I go to my usual “this is what 50 looks like” that I might offend them, but I shouldn’t have to smile and say,”Thank you” to everyone who tells me that I look younger than I am. What is my responsibility in this? Am I responsible for their feelings or for my own integrity?

I’m trying to align myself with my truth. My truth is that I’m going to be 50 in 2 days and this is what 50 looks like.

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