There comes a time in everyone’s life when they reach a crossroads.  For some, dreams are pursued and for others reality steps in and slaps them across the face.  Yes, my friends, the latter action has occurred in my life.  At 50, I am facing the harsh fact that I will NEVER be a Victoria’s Secret angel. Now, many of you might be wondering how this is possible.  Let me just say that when I was in my 20’s this was not realistic and I used to run over 5 miles daily plus resistance training plus yoga and yada, yada, yada.

I am slowly learning that the key to successfully aging is to lower your expectations.  While this is hard to swallow at times, unfortunately it is something that I am coming to terms with. I realized that I just dangled a participle but screw it, I’m on a roll!  Society tells me that I should strive to be perfectly coifed at all times because you never know when the maniacal urge to be Kim Kardashian-West will overtake me and I will want to take a nude selfie.  Really, Kim?  You don’t have anything to wear as you photograph yourself in a bathroom that is the size of a studio apartment?

The media tells me that if my waist is not the diameter of a Barbie doll that there is something wrong with me and I should consider Sono Belloing the crap out of my body. You don’t look like fricking 69-year-old Helen Mirren (I love Dame Helen!) with washboard abs in a bikini?  Not a problem! Just laser those troublesome fat layers away and this can be done on your lunch break from work! 

Seriously? After a cosmetic procedure involving lasers I am really going to feel like dealing with my micro-managing supervisor from the underworld and Janice from accounting (my shout out to Mr. John Oliver)? No, I think I will pass on this treatment. Is it really necessary for women in their 50’s to look as if quarters can be bounced off their stomachs?

I am not advocating for women of a certain age or even women in general to just throw in the towel and not care about their health or even their appearances, for that matter.  I am just saying that for me, I know that Fit magazine is not going to be banging down my door and I will not be doing an artistic spread photographed by Annie Leibovitz in Vanity Fair anytime in the near future. It is all about the realism for me.  Let’s face it, at my age, I feel that being able to get up off the ground, walk around a park or doing yoga and light cardio-resistance training should be sufficient. I think I have earned that privilege.  

I have a fitness app on my phone which measures every morsel of food that I eat and every bit of activity I engage in so I do care about staying healthy. Hell, it even YELLS at me if it doesn’t agree with an entry.  I guess I am tired of being hard on myself if I don’t look a certain way or if my hair looks as if a Poodle styled it.  Thank you, southern humidity!

Personally, I also believe that expectations are ridiculous for men as well.  They are expected to have perfectly styled hair, the fashion sense of Tim Gunn and the abs of Channing Tatum. If they don’t walk around looking as if they stepped out of the pages of GQ or Men’s Health, then something must be wrong with them. Men of all ages, I am here to tell you that it is absolutely okay if you don’t feel like shaving and if you want to lounge around on the weekend in t-shirts and baggy sweatpants. As a matter of fact, I happen to find men at their sexiest when they are relaxed. I don’t judge!

In Leighton’s world, as long as you know hygiene you don’t have to be Megan Fox, Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt or George Clooney.  Why can’t it be about a person’s intelligence or their wicked sense of humor? Must everyone be reduced to whether or not their teeth are preternaturally white? In the end, can you look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are doing the best you can with what you have and that you are grateful?

I guess that is why I admire women like Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, and Amy Schumer.  They are intelligent, they are fricking hilarious, and they are not afraid to be themselves, for better or worse. They know what they are and they have accepted their imperfections and in some cases embraced them. As I move into the “back nine” of my life, I want to age like Judy Dench. Dame Dench was able to garner Daniel Craig/James Bond’s respect and she always looked regal while kicking ass.

So even though I won’t be picking up where Gisele Bundchen-Brady left off, I have made peace with myself.  I am healthy, I am a work in progress and that my friends, is okay!                   @SusanontheLedge

Published by Susan Leighton Woman on the Ledge