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Feuding Words at 50

Writer Sheri Radel Rosenberg reflects on guilty pleasures, breaking the rules, and life at the mid-century point

Now that I’m well into my 50th year (and what a year it’s been), I have several observations. The first: I’m at a point in my life where I can face the multitude of fears I have collected over half a century. First of those? Doctors. And dentists. As a woman who is far more akin to pleasure than pain, doctor stuff causes a lot of anxiety. But as I’ve been focusing on my health for a minute now from completely changing my diet to committing to regular exercise to a skincare routine that is both grueling and meditative, I’m all in on feeling my very best. That’s why I ripped off ALL the Band-Aids this year. From embarking on some fairly gnarly dental work to getting a mole removed on my back that I put off doing for several years (yesterday I did it, and it wasn’t fun), I’m feeling powerful because there is no better feeling than crossing stuff off your eternal list and clearing the decks for health and happiness.

Family Feud

This brings me to something super strange I saw on TV the other night. 

Many of us have guilty pleasures (I have scads), but one of mine is watching “Family Feud.” I know. It’s super weird. But for some reason, I love the Feud. And I love to hate Steve Harvey. Take this confession however you like. I’m a fan of the Feud and I don’t even know why. Anyway, if you’ve watched it, you know the winning family competes at the end of the show in a speed round of questions, which are often so ridiculous you can almost hear the screech of non-PC nails on the chalkboard. 

The question was:

“At what age is a woman too old to wear a pair of stilettos?” Say what?

What kind of fuckery was this? Interestingly enough, the two family members chosen for the speed round could not have been much older than 25. And one of them answered “26” and the other answered “30.” So weird. But what was the answer from the Americans surveyed? The most popular answer amongst some swath of the heartland and beyond? 5-0, friends. Apparently, most Americans feel at 50 you must stop wearing high heels. 

Full disclosure: I hate high heels. Always have. Because they hurt like hell. I have always joked I don’t wear them because you never know when you’ll need to run. I very well remember an old boss of mine wearing spikey Blahniks in a snowstorm back in the ’90s and stared at my own shit kicker-clad feet in relief. And after a night out in Miami back in the day when I complained all night about my shoes, my husband quietly asked me to never wear heels again. I think I was in my 30s then, but yea. I’ve never been one for heels. Platform Gucci boots? Yes. But skinny heels? No. No way.

We live in a youth-obsessed world where there are far too many rules

But just because I don’t wear heels doesn’t mean other women my age don’t love them, even if this past year or so had many putting their heels into hibernation mode. And truly, an odd question to pose to the American people. As if shoes have an expiration date. As if turning 50 means you stop wanting to feel sexy or powerful (as many women feel when wearing heels) and feel the need to pop on some Dansko clogs (ugly shoes are all the rage, by the way), or that heels don’t allow for the invisibility many women complain about feeling as they age. And hey, it’s cool if you do. But you know what I’m trying to say here. We live in a youth-obsessed world where there are far too many rules. And though I find the idea of tottering around in heels nonsensical, many women of a certain age do not. Just ask SJP.

As for me, I’m currently rocking a Run Lola red hair color that is bright, bold, and a little outside of my comfort zone, but I’m totally digging it for a change. I am sure there are those that think bold hair colors are best left to the young, but I think having fun with fashion and personal style doesn’t have an expiration date.

I don’t care what anyone thinks of my shoes, hair, or truly, anything else

But contrary to what “the survey says” (that’s Feud talk, folks), I’ll tell you what.

The question should have really been, “At what age do women stop giving a fuck about what society thinks of them?” Answer? 50. Definitely 50. If you came to that sooner, good on you. But I’m here now and I don’t care what anyone thinks of my shoes, hair, or truly, anything else. And it feels fucking amazing. So, if you’re questioning what you can and can’t wear or do or say in this thing called midlife, take heed. You have earned the right to crash through the ceiling, lean in, lean out, or flip conventional wisdom the bird. It’s obscene the way women are scrutinized at every point in our lives. At 50, I’m crying foul on all of it and, to be honest, I’m too busy taking care of myself in the healthiest way possible to worry about my fleeting youth. It’s true I’ll be rocking my fresh Stan Smiths this summer over a sexy pair of stilettos, but you do you. 

Because 50 is not the new 20, 30, 40, or otherwise. 50 is 50. And really, it feels just fine. And that’s what’s up this high and low Thursday in beautiful Brooklyn. Yours, in tough shoes to fill, but worth every step. XO

11 COMMENTS

  1. I want all women to wear whatever they want whenever they want. You’re so right–50 is 50, it’s not the new 40, or any other age. Because what you feel and think at 50 is not the same as what a woman feels and thinks at 40 or younger. As Mary Ruefle said in her “Pause” essay, “There are no longer any persons on earth who can stop you from being yourself.”

  2. I love high heels and look at them longingly in my closet waiting to wear them…but not with my sweat pants – which I am trying to wean myself out of at long last. My Kate Spade raspberry red heels call to me, :Gail come back, you love being 3 inches taller.” Yes I do!

  3. So glad I never felt like I had to wear heels. 5’8 and always thought I was too tall. Since I have a balance problem it’s a good thing it didn’t matter. Sneakers forever :):):):) Love your article. Not sure when my aha moment was. I am 66 and rocking purple hair (not old lady purple) LOL!!!!!

  4. Love ❤️ this article inspiring women to do uniquely YOU ❣️ 👠 Rocking 53 and not looking back, the adventures just keeps getting better🤩

  5. Love the article for its message and humour! I laughed throughout because there was so much of me in it and I am 62 this year not 50. I’m 5’9″ and absolutely love the height and other benefits I get from heals although lately I am trying to find more comfortable shoes that offer me all the emotional uplift of heals. (Bought a pair of Dansko clogs and I plan on rocking them as best as I can).

    I agree that the question was incorrectly written – loved the rewording!! My thing – the judgement that comes from seeing the 2 piece bathing suit on an older woman. What does one do when one always loved the sun and the luxury of lying out in it in a 2 piece? It seems that society still cannot tolerate women to experience the beach in a way that works for them 🤨, although it can tolerate younger ages wearing just about anything – the double standard is unfortunate and sad. Keep up the writing Sheri!!!

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Sheri Radel Rosenberghttp://sherimavenblog.com/
Sheri Radel Rosenberg has spent a life in advertising. Currently she's a freelance writer focusing on women at midlife and the power of reinvention. She regularly writes on her own blog and also works with brands to develop content in the areas of women's health, wellness, fashion, and beauty .She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a ten pound ball of doggie fluff called Khan.

 

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