Saturday, May 28, 2011

Act Your Age

Lede of the Day: She is 74 years old, and she is ripped.

Photo of the Day (Or, Visual Proof that the Lede of the Day Is Fully Justified):

(Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph, Washington Post. Wa Po caption: [Ernestine] Shepherd instructs a body-building class in Baltimore. 5/29/11. Full photo gallery here.)

Tomorrow's Wa Po magazine has a cluster of features on women and aging, including DeNeen Brown's profile of Ernestine Shepherd, who was a self-described couch potato into her mid-50s, when she and her late sister Mildred started working out together in response to weight gain. Twenty years later, Shepherd holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest female bodybuilder in the world and tells classes full of huffing and puffing students decades younger than she is that, "Age is nothing but a number." Point taken, girlfriend.

Read the story before you tuck into that vat of Memorial Day potato salad you're planning to devour this weekend. It's mostly feel-good, female-affirmational stuff, but a) what's wrong with that? and b) the story also has the poignant subtext of the relationship between the two sisters. Of the other pieces in the cluster, the commentaries on aging while female by four women of different ages (the youngest being 33) are a little too full of lines like "Groomed eyebrows are an absolute key" to be worth our time, but, hey, wevs, wimmin. Naomi Wolf weighs in with an essay aimed at demolishing the myth that women experience aging as a process of existential loss tied to changes in physical appearance by asserting that she and the women she admires are doing just fine and the men in her social set who bring much younger trophy chicks to dinner parties are looked upon with pity rather than envy these days. 'K, Naomi, thanks for clearing that up for us.

Ernestine Shepherd, we do hereby declare you our Feisty Old Broad of the Holiday Weekend. Thank you for your chiseled abs and your sweaty persistence and your dedication to the dream you shared with your beloved sister. Long may you run -- and lift and squat and sculpt and teach. PAWS UP to you from the hard-working, lifestyle-adjusting middle-aged broads of Roxie's World.

(Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph, Washington Post. Wa Po caption: [Ernestine Shepherd] runs at least 10 miles every day in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.)

Peace out, darlings. Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the official start of your summer be sun-drenched and pleasure-filled.


  1. LUV, this Rox! As you and your typist know, I have long maintained that women get better as they/we get older!

    LUV U!!!

  2. One of my biking pals is 75+, and she rocks. She taught me how to cross country ski, too.

    When I grow up, I want to be just like her!

  3. I'm feeling a bit too cynical, having spent the last 6 weeks struggling with osteoarthritis, to find the cheeriness of those quotes amusing.

    Naomi W: all sunny and Pollyannaish? Meh.

    But, damn, those pics made my day.

    Thanks, Roxie.

  4. Anonymous4:55 PM EDT

    Mrs. Shepard is sweezing every ounce of joy out of her time here...congratulations mama & keep on truckin'


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