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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2008

Jamie Lee a role model on aging gracefully

Over lunch yesterday at The Blarney, we agreed: We are not aging the way we'd expected.

This was a conversation with a woman I've known for years. Or, as she and I could have both said about each other, a woman I've known since at least 20 pounds ago.

She's held important positions in local nonprofit organizations, and our periodic lunch meetings typically find us discussing social services and politics.

But yesterday, we also found ourselves griping about aging.

More to the point, we griped about how we never expected to be the sort of aging women who'd gripe about getting older.

"I always assumed," I confessed, "that I'd age gracefully and never think twice about it. I certainly never thought I'd become the sort of woman who cared about getting older, let alone become the sort of woman who worried about it."

Then again, I now realize, I always assumed I'd be the sort of woman who got older by looking pretty much just the way I did when I was younger - plus or minus a few silver-not-gray hairs, and maybe the faint parentheses of a nasal labial fold or two around my mouth.

As things turned out, instead I now see my hairdresser religiously for root touch-ups. (I've colored my hair for so long I almost believe I'm a natural redhead.)

And in the dermatologist's waiting room now, I leaf read about Restylane "dermal filler" instead of back issues of Redbook. (My husband's protest about "sending a horrible message" to our teen daughter stops me. Well, that and squandering money.)

Nope. Not. Graceful. At. All.

But here comes Jamie Lee Curtis to remind us that we're sweating the small stuff. The actor is on the cover of the May/June issue of AARP The Magazine, in all her gray-haired and, um, topless splendor.

OK, none of what the British call her naughty bits are on display. If it's "Girls Gone Wild," it's the boomer edition, but you certainly still get the point, which is this: Here is a 50-year-old woman who looks both great and real.

"I feel way better now than when I was 20," she told the magazine. "I'm stronger, I'm smarter in every way, I'm so much less crazy than I was then."

(Trust me, graying female heads everywhere are nodding in agreement.)

You may recall this is the same brave celeb to present "before" and "after" photos in More magazine six years ago. Unadorned and in her underwear, the magazine first showed a makeup-free woman with limp hair and a body thickening with middle age.

But after a three-hour makeover session in which 13 people "worked" on her, the next photo presented the kind of slinky, glammed-up image too many of us now honestly and foolishly believe represents reality.

I'd never bought an issue of More magazine, but I remember buying one that month - to show my then-preteen daughter.

As for seeing the latest Jamie Lee Curtis photo for myself, I guess I'll have to wait (Blushing Confession alert) until my mail carrier delivers the next issue of AARP The Magazine.



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