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Sue Cowie
Finding Balance

If Age Is Just a Number, Why Is It So Hard to Say?

I consider myself strong, fit, healthy, sexy, but an unusual thing happens to me when I mention my age. For the longest time, I said my age only to myself, but as I got closer to launching The Fine Line, an online magazine for women 45+, I needed to tell people how old I am — gulp! — and it caused me to feel overwhelmed with distress!

Lack of confidence has never been an issue for me. I’ve really never even thought about it. I’ve appreciated my looks and my body over the years — they’ve been very good to me. There have been, of course, times when I needed to pursue or was forced into spiritual and personal growth, and in decades past, I spent many moments standing in front of a mirror saying, “You are beautiful. You are whole. You are strong.” Not because I am a narcissist, but because I was on an evolutionary journey of self-love.

When I was in my 30s, I didn’t give much consideration to aging. I think there was a feeling of “I am invincible,” perhaps even a little cockiness and definitely a lack of realization that certain things would change for me as I moved into my 40s and then my 50s.

And now here I am: 59 years old. Just a few months, actually, from turning 60. Typing those numbers brings a lump to my throat that I have yet to fully understand.


Here I am: 59 years old. Just a few months, actually, from turning 60. Typing those numbers brings a lump to my throat that I have yet to fully understand.


The most notable moment of this mysterious distress was when I decided to post a few images of myself on Facebook as a teaser to the launch of this site. I am not a person who posts lots of images of myself on social media, but as the founder of The Fine Line, I felt it was important for me to let people know what I am up to and start a conversation. But then it came time to say my age.

It took me more than two weeks to find the courage to commit to writing “59” in the post, and when I actually hit enter on my computer, I thought I would vomit! The emotion was so powerfully visceral that I thought I should write about it.

Revealing my age somehow made it real. I realized, too, that somewhere in my mind I had convinced myself that I was in my early 40s. I certainly feel like I have the same energy of my early 40s, but the very idea of admitting on social media — and apparently to myself — that I am 59 was embarrassing.

What to do?

I told myself that this was where the rubber met the road. I reminded myself that I was creating a company that embraces aging — it embraces the beauty, the struggles, the humor, the fear of growing older. It was a monumental moment for me.

I know many women who vow to never reveal their ages, and I understand why keeping the secret feels like maintaining an air of mystery. And I suppose that mystery is something I wanted to hold onto — until my dear partner looked right at me and said, “You don’t think all your friends on Facebook know you are in your 50s?”

That was an OMG moment. That was the reality check I needed. “I suppose they do,” I conceded, asking myself just whom I thought I was fooling.


How often do we hear and say words such as “acceptance,” “wisdom,” “beauty,” and “gratitude,” while still cringing at the things — like aging — that make us human?


It was only then that I posted some photos of myself in athletic wear: “This is 59!! Love being in the best shape of my life — can’t wait to get the conversation started — stay tuned…”

The responses to the images from my friends and family were incredible, and their comments made me feel wonderful and oh so supported. They were also a reminder that there is important work ahead as I personally battle ageism in today’s society.

How often do we hear and say words such as “acceptance,” “wisdom,” “beauty,” and “gratitude,” while still cringing at the things — like aging — that make us human? The messages in my head telling me that the thing that was most valuable about me (my youth) has vanished, that I’m irrelevant, that I will never be seen as smart and sexy again are loud and clear. But when I was presented an opportunity to contradict them, I did it!

But it wasn’t easy to post publicly that I am 59. I am still a little rattled when I actually think about it, and then I remember those mantras from my 30s, so I stand in front of the mirror and say, “You are beautiful. You are whole. You are strong.” I keep going with my head held high.

>READ: SAY HELLO TO THE AGELESS GENERATION: WE’RE IN OUR PRIME

>READ: 20 OUTSTANDING THINGS ABOUT WOMEN IN THEIR PRIME

>READ: OUR ONGOING BATTLE WITH BODY IMAGE

Photo: Marisa Quinn

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