Barbara Parent column: Is 80 the new 40?

Dynasty actress Linda Evans eased a generation of women into their 40s. Or, so it was for those of my friends and myself who had either crossed on over into the, “Big 4-0” or were dragging their feet toward the eventual day.

Forty was one of the milestones that heralded the, “Over the Hill” slogans, cards and black balloons.

Back in 1984 when the New Year was a mere 29 days old I fell into my 40s. No witty comparisons such as we hear today:“50 is the new 30,” “60 is the new 40,” “70 is the new 50”.

All well and good, soothing perhaps,but, “40 is the new 20”? When you’re the mother of three teenagers that reference is like pulling off a Band-Aid. Ouch!

But then, thank the Heavens, there was Linda.

Rather than envy her hairstyle, the blonde strands whipped just so away from her face, we embraced all that she was and thanked the Gods that she was there for us.

Turning 40? Piece of cake. Just look at Linda.

And boy did we.

Linda put a glow on an age that as teens we thought when reaching it would begin the downslide from youth.

Turning 30 was but a blip in the scheme of things.

Forty was our nemesis and, when looking back, perhaps for more reasons than the calendar year.

If we read Joan Didion we might have turned the pages onto what was causing our anxiety rather than holding on to the age comedian Jack Benny would not let go.

So, perhaps it wasn’t the number at all.

Sure Linda Evans was our role model 40 years ago. We, of course, recognized the cameras on the “Dynasty” set projected a well-tended actress onto our television screens but attempting to look like Linda Evans wasn’t what it was all about.

So why bring up her up in the first place?

Martha Stewart is in the spotlight Linda Evans held for us 40 years ago. The consummate homemaker who propelled gracious living to its heights long before copy cats arrived on the scene flashed on my iPhone screen last week and of all incongruous places, on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Martha Stewart, the woman who propelled gracious living to its heights long before copy cats jumped on the bandwagon.

At 81, she is the swimsuit issue’s oldest cover and she’s looking damn good.

All in good taste. Would it be anything other? She is the soft-spoken essence of graciousness whether entertaining, gardening, preparing favorite recipes, sharing innovative decorating, the ultimate hostess opening the doors to her homes through her vast eclectic business empire. A woman emerging stronger after her 2004 conviction.

I see her not as a swimsuit issue cover but rather a woman of a certain age easing the way for 70 somethings into their 80s.


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