How old is “too old?”

Have you ever wondered how old is “too old” for this or that sport or profession?
Is Tom Brady past his prime in the NFL? How about his wife Giselle? Is she still young-ish enough to super model? What is the expiration date on youth? How far, how long, how much can we push within the parameters of age and time? Because there is always a consequence for going to far–like I learned a few months ago.

The nonsense all started at one of Kolby’s modeling gigs back in December. She was working her little tail off posing in adorable flower girl dresses.
The photographer turns to me and asks if I still model.
“Come again?” I laugh.
Just for the record, I am SERIOUSLY not attempting false modesty. I was stunned because I am 43 and freaking old for THIS kind of funny business.
He asks again.
“Uhhh…it’s been a long time. I calculate the years. About 5 years since I’ve gotten paid for anything (a Cosmeticare  gig where I played the doctor…not the hot young thing) and sixteen years since I’ve walked a runway. At some point, just like Peyton Manning, I decided to hang up the cleats and drink beer (or heels and skinny margaritas in my case).
“I have a client you would be perfect for.”
What size? I ask incredulously thinking my jeans are already too tight after the pre-holiday festivities.”
“Missy”
“You sure it’s not Old Missy?” I shoot back.
He chuckles. “No it’s just missy. Size 4-6.”
I think to myself that “6” is a far more doable number than “4.”  “4” seems like a slim person who works out consistently. “4” is a summer number and it’s winter, in case he didn’t notice.
“Let me take a few shots,” he pleads.
I hesitate and then acquiesce. He hands me some casual wear outfits and I try them on and come back out.
I feel awkward. I remember the face angles, but the body stuff is awkward. My old body was lithe and lean at  5’9 and a size 2. Now I wear Spanx and invest in sturdy bra’s that protect my back from damage. And to make matters worse, I’m shrinking. Last time I measured I was a quarter of an inch shorter!
The photographer says he’ll contact me. I weakly wave goodbye and we head home battling the awesome LA traffic. On the drive back, little Kolby asks me what I was doing trying on the outfits.
“Ummm, well the photographer thought mommy might be a good fit for a client.” I say.
“Mommy, aren’t models supposed to be young like me?”
“Yes, but sometimes they have old ones, like nice old cars or horses. Old people wear clothes too honey. It’s called classic.”
She looks confused. I am too.
On Christmas Eve I get a text. I have booked the job. The reality is too scary to grasp. I try not to think about it because I  don’t want to go on a diet. Ten days before the shoot in late Jan, I finally suck it up and go carb free for ten really crappy days.
In case you don’t know: Carbs=happy. No carbs=grumpy.
Cranky mommy shows up. My kids prefer squishy mommy over skinny mommy. I prefer the personality of squishy and the body of skinny–but I guess that’s too much to ask for at this advanced age.
I lose 5 lbs. Whee Hee! It might be all water but I feel so light and free.
Jess and Jane 2
The shoot is fun. The clothes remind me of Chico’s and the designer is a sweetheart. She styles and styles. We are both working hard. I have 100 changes. And in any size- that’s a heck of a lot. Clearly, they are getting their money out of this old horse.
I collect my money and bat my fake lashes applied by the makeup artist who made me feel like a dream. (She thought I was 35)
The compliments make me feel giddy, but by evening they have worn off and I am ready to eat my entire arm.
The next morning I go on vacation to Las Vegas to celebrate my dear friend’s birthday. Over the next five days of indulgence and daily buffets I regain the 5lbs and another 2 more for good measure.
Oops!
But it was so worth it! I loved every minute of being with my friends and enjoying this beautiful crazy life.
And that’s when it hit me. I like squishy mommy better. A healthy, strong and happy mommy who always battles the last 5 lbs. Yeah, I like that girl.
Yes, the striving and modeling was cool–for about a minute, but I was starving and pissy and not myself. I was too stressed! Image management just isn’t my thing anymore. It took a long time for me to accept myself and appreciate the totality of being real–the good and bad, imperfect and quirky, and who wants to lose that hard fought for gift to look good for society’s jacked up standards anyway?
Joy is not measured by my size or how good I look for my age, joy is measured by the depth of my relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like feeling pretty–like every girl does–but the race to nowhere to look “hot” is way overrated.  We all get old in the end. It’s a guaranteed losing game whether we are botoxed or not. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to look good, because I’m sure our husbands appreciate our efforts, but obsessing over our looks like a reality housewife is broken thinking. Whether I like it or not, I am almost 44 and trying to look 35 is EXHAUSTING even for just 10 days.
(No judgment here on cosmetic fillers or enhancements, if it helps you feel more confident or look refreshed that’s totally cool, but please go easy and don’t erase the laugh lines of a life well lived)
A friend messaged me today and saw me on the cover of the catalogue for Jess & Jane.
Jess and Jane cover
It’s bittersweet to see the images five months later, after a failed pregnancy and now trying to get back in shape again, not skinny shape but just somewhere in the range of normal.
And even though I wish they could have picked a shot where I wore something more figure flattering, certainly I have more grace looking backwards.  Why was I so hard on myself? Oh perspective, you are so illusive.
I’m still glad I did the shoot, because it was a good reminder, once again, of the things that really matter.
Yes, this mama is once again happily retired.
–Samantha
Jess and Jane 3

Squishy Mommy

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