Commentary: It’s hard to discount the angst of turning a certain age

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at

Between the coronavirus and the primary elections, this is a year of great significance. It also is of great significance to me, personally, since it is the year I turn that age that comes after 59. 

Just can’t manage to say it out loud. I am clinging by my fingernails to my 50s. So much so that when the barely pubescent grocery store clerk recently asked if I wanted the senior discount, I became irate. After all, I have one month, 10 days, and 15 minutes till I qualify for that 

Not sure why the milestone birthdays seem so much more significant than the others. Guess it’s the numbers thing, entering into a new age bracket. As of now, I can say I am in my 50s, but in one month, 10 days and so on I won’t be able to say this. That is scary. 

It does not help being in a youth-obsessed world. As a woman, it is really difficult. Most every ad supposedly geared toward everyday women involves young, impossibly slim, gorgeous ones who look like they had a cracker for dinner.  

If it is clothes they are modeling, they always look good, even the really ugly outfits look gorgeous on a 6-foot-tall model in her 20s. That does not translate well to normal-appearing, older, earth-bound females such as myself. 

This may sound bitter, but I don’t begrudge the young model. I begrudge the industry that refuses to show women of a certain age in the ads. We buy stuff, too. Not that men don’t have problems with aging as well, judging from the number of Viagra commercials. 

Because of this obsession with youth, many actresses who turn a certain age resort to facelifts and Botox to stop the aging process. Sometimes this looks good and sometimes it just looks bizarre. I want to grow old gracefully. Being a big chicken when it comes to surgeries or needles helps as well. 

Aging gracefully, however, does not preclude coloring my hair a lovely shade of ash blonde to cover the few, cough, gray hairs that have begun appearing. This is different. Don’t ask me why. It just is. 

I also admit to running endless routes on my treadmill in an attempt to remain fit and to trying crazy diets from the internet that absolutely swear you will lose 10 pounds in, like, one minute. You know the ones we look at before making a doughnut run or telling the person at the drive-thru to go ahead and large size that order. 

Several years ago, an older woman that I knew told me that the great thing about passing certain ages is that you feel like you can say or do anything and not care what people think. I found this to be somewhat true when I hit 40, even more so when I hit 50. Lord knows how free I will feel when I hit 60 next month. You may see the headline “Woman goes berserk and attacks grocery clerk offering senior discount.” 

I might even get really crazy and stop coloring my hair that lovely shade of ash blonde. Or maybe not. 



Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident and contributor to the Herald. She can be contacted at

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