Midlife Chic

Why turning 40 isn't as bad as I thought

I’m turning 40 this year. Next week, actually. I’ve dreaded this for years. I mean it’s 40 — a big, scary number for women. It used to sound so…old. Really mature. Wide-hipped and saggy. Now that I’m almost there and I’ve realized that not only am I not old, but I’ve never felt better.

Apart from the fact that nothing really different physically than a few years ago, the fear is gone now. I don’t feel intimidated like I used to. People don’t scare me anymore because I am finally at peace with myself. At some point I stopped caring if I impressed them or even measured up. It doesn’t matter. I think I realized they were all as concerned or more with themselves measuring up. People often believe what they’re told, so if you sell yourself as fabulous they’ll usually take your word for it. I think that’s when I stopped worrying. [SIGNUP]

I also noticed, suddenly one day, that all the cool people were over 40 now. I looked hard for really awesome celebrities that were young and there really aren’t that many. So many A-listers are over 40 there’s hardly anyone left but Lady Gaga and those Twilight kids. Most of the coolest ones: Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Aniston, hell, even P. Diddy are over 40. I’m in incredibly good company. And 40 has never looked better than it does now, by the way. Most of the 40+ women I know are hip, glowing, sexy, fit and not one iota less desirable then they ever were. As long as my gym and I have regular dates and I keep using the really good skin cream, things should stay fairly status quo. Plus, there is more help then ever available. Fillers, a baby shot of Bo (tox), throw in some Spanx and you’re good to go. Best thing about this age is that you can afford to be so much cooler than when you were young. Clothes, shoes, products, accessories, I finally got ’em.

Maybe it’s because I’m starting a new phase of life that I’m so optimistic. I’ve always been a late bloomer, so I consider this a fresh start and the time in my life that I might finally come into my own. The 20s weren’t so productive, financially speaking, and the 30s were all about raising a child. Now I can finally do something on my own, on my terms without settling. Maybe I’ll make my first million by 50! I could have an empire. A brand. The options are limitless. Ageism is so last century.

Plus we’re in the bizarre new era that celebrates the (god I loathe this term) Cougar. As awful as that stereotype is, it’s kind of amazing that alluring mature women and young hot men are a trend at this point in my life. It certainly keeps me from feeling all washed up. Not only is there hope, it’s virtually guaranteed that I could find a cache of young men should I find myself alone. Maybe 40 is the new 20.

I’m kind of strangely psyched about the whole thing. I am looking forward to a great party, a vacation in France and some inner peace about no longer struggling with the issues from my 30s. My child is getting older and soon I won’t need the SUV to cart her places. Maybe I’ll buy myself a midlife non-crisis convertible.

KELLY ROWELL lives on the Main Line.