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50 is the New 30

The baby boomerang

Cindy Gabriel
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Cindy Gabriel

Staff writer Cindy Gabriel celebrates the Big 5-0

It happened to Condoleezza Rice the same day it happened to me. November 14th, 2004 we turned 50. It happened to Oprah in February, 2004, four months after AARP magazine featured model Lauren Hutton looking scrumptious with the headline “60 is the New 40.” Then articles popped up across the country declaring 50 the new 30. Somehow I get the feeling that Oprah is behind this whole thing. I guess I should feel fortunate that I’m turning 50 with some of the most powerful women in the world, women who have a whole baby boom generation ready to go along with however they define it.

The same week Condi and I turned 50, a 59-year-old woman in Georgia found out she was pregnant with twins. Mixed feelings of pride and (just so it’s not me) horror are added to all else that is brewing in 50+ hormone-challenged female bodies everywhere. The last time our hormones raged we brought in the revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. We coined the term “generation gap.”

Today we are the age of the generation we “gapped” and our rebellion continues. This time it’s against our children, or at least the children of our older boomer friends; the 30-year-olds we labeled “Generations X.” Now we want to be their age and they have to go along because we’re just so overpowering. We are Oprah.

Since we can have it any way we call it, we better consider what being 30 really means. Let’s see, do we have to go back to when we were 30, have another kid or two, watch the career suffer while succumbing to parenting, and fight “baby” weight? Not in our dreams.

Baby Boomerang?

What we really want is to look and feel 30, while embracing all the advantages that 50 has to offer. Back when we weren’t listening, our parents tried to tell us that age and experience produce wisdom, patience and understanding. We do have more financial independence, more time for ourselves, time to travel, time to listen to our inner self; to do what really fulfills. All this is fine, as long as we don’t have to look like our parents while doing it.

Back when Oprah was celebrating and redefining 50, I attended the memorial service for one of the last of the true southern ladies. It would have been an insult to call Mrs. Mary Jane Novosad a woman. She was a lady, a southern lady. Her daughter Lisa Sharp, 52, remembers attending church in white gloves. Her mother never owned a pair of jeans and was almost never seen in pants.

“My mother never owned a T-shirt or anything that pulled over her head. It would have messed up the hairdo she had done at the beauty parlor once a week,” said Lisa.

“Every time we bought a dress, we bought the shoes and purse to match,” said Lisa. Mrs. Novosad, the wife of a respected Wharton, Texas dentist, always dressed with coordinating earrings and necklace. Undergarments were also very important.

“She would never leave the house without a girdle and stockings. She thought it was appalling if a woman allowed her bottom to wiggle,” said Lisa.

Standard bearer that she was she is not us. The same children who rebelled against the Mary Jane Novosad’s in the 60’s and 70’s are rebelling again. We wear hip huggers. Why not? Our children are wearing them and we invented them. We boomers can have a generation gap with our parents, but dude, it’s not happening with our kids on our watch.

Being in the generation that is always leading the charge for change comes with stress. While we’re busy Botoxing, face-lifting, exercising and diet supplementing, where are we really headed? Are we doing all of this so 70-year-old men will think we’re cute? But then, men in their 70’s aren’t the geezer’s they used to be. Seventy is the new 50, right? At some point this aging thing is going to get harder and harder to mask. As tomorrow’s senior citizens, it would be nice to find some graceful way to embrace the passage of time as just another part of life, wouldn’t it? If we don’t, we might just find Generation Xer’s one day labeling its senior citizens the Baby Boomerang Generation.

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