Big deal, right? Cameron Diaz. Jennifer Aniston. Halle Berry. Gwyneth. All wear bikinis. All over 40. And a quick scroll through my Instagram and Facebook feeds reveals it’s not just celebrities. There are 40 and 50 year olds posting six-pack selfies, running spartan races, doing CrossFit, drinking green juice, going paleo—all in the effort to score a hot ageless bod. If you can’t rock a bikini after 40 these days, you’ve apparently completely failed at life.
Here’s what I want to know: When did being insanely fit after 40 go from being the exception to being the rule? When did Gen X morph into Gen P90-X? And is this quest for a freakishly fit physique considered progress or not? Because while I’ve got nothing against bikinis or the crazy fit women who wear them, I remember a time when moms were allowed to look like moms. No skinny jeans, no crop tops, no ripped biceps. Just soft curves and elastic waistbands that were forgiving enough to enable a third slice of pizza without the pressure to hit SoulCycle the next morning and pedal it all off.
It would be easy to blame the media for redefining our expectation of what a post-40 body is supposed to look like. Last month, a photo of Cindy Crawford looking not-so-perfect in lingerie went viral. But just as the public began to rally behind the 49-year-old supermodel for being “real” and “honest” and “fabulous,” the Crawford camp threatened a lawsuit, declaring that the picture had been altered to make Cindy’s midsection look worse. Yesterday, she posed topless on the beach in Malibu in nothing but a white mesh dress and black thong as if she had something to prove. And she did. Because we live in a time when the worst thing a 49-year-old woman can do is actually look 49.
Which is why I found it so refreshing when Candice Bergen recently announced on the Today show that she is eating what she wants—haters be damned. “Let me just come right out and say it,” she said. “I am fat…I have put on 30 pounds. I live to eat.” The former model and Murphy Brown star also revealed that many of her skinny friends are actually miserable, maintaining their weight “by routinely vomiting after meals consisting of a slice of steak or fish.” She then went went on to describe the type of judgment women can feel when it comes to food: “At a recent dinner party I shared bread and olive oil, followed by chocolate ice cream… A woman near me looked at me, appalled, and I thought, ‘I don’t care.'”
Party on, Murphy Brown! You think you’re fat… and you’re still spectacular. (I know, I know. She’s 68, not 40. And she’s not really fat. But still.) Life is short and fleeting and—much like a chocolate ice cream cone on a hot summer day—you don’t know how long you have until it’s finished. Might as well enjoy it.