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Model Christie Brinkley arrives at the "50 Years of Beautiful" television event celebrating the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue's 50th Anniversary at the Dolby Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Cannon: 60 is not the new 30, no matter how Christie Brinkley looks

By Ann Cannon

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Feb 04 2014 10:05 am • Last Updated Feb 18 2014 02:26 pm

Dear Christie Brinkley,

Last week when I was grocery shopping, I noticed you gracing the cover of PEOPLE Magazine in a blue one-piece bathing suit on the eve of your 60th birthday. Let me a) wish you a happy birthday and b) say that you look fantastic.

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You really do. You look so fantastic that you could, totally, say screw the 1% milk (in the words of Napoleon Dynamite) and start drinking whole if you wanted to. In fact, you look so fantastic that you could be drinking whole milk while also wearing a bikini. But apparently you opted for a one-piece swimsuit because you didn’t want to embarrass your kids. I applaud your decision on the motherhood front, although I myself LOVE to embarrass my kids whenever possible and can’t really understand why someone wouldn’t want to, because Embarrassing Your Kids = Crazypants Fun!

But whatever. That’s not the point.

The point is that your cover shoot has attracted a lot of attention. MJ Day, an editor for SI’s iconic swimsuit issue, noted that you have "the legs of a 30-year-old and the face of an angel." Which is true. (Or mostly true anyway. I’ve never seen an angel in real life, and I’m pretty sure my legs didn’t look like yours when I was 30.) MJ Day went on to say that you’re "mind-blowingly beautiful" and that you’re what other women "aspire to look like at 60."

OK. I’ve given that last bit some thought. I’m coming up on 60 myself in a few years so if looking like you is what I aspire to, I’d better get busy, right? I better get myself a Total Gym and start working out daily with Chuck Norris, which might be awesome in a weird kind of way, although it would also mean I’d have to resist the temptation to tell Chuck Norris jokes ("when the Bogeyman goes to bed at night, he checks the closet for Chuck Norris").

Except . . .

Is looking good enough to rock a swimming suit what I really aspire to when I turn 60?

I don’t think it’s sour grapes when I say it isn’t. Not for me, anyway. Here’s what I aspire to instead. Spending time with my grandkids. Having fun with friends. Writing a book or two. Walking the length of Manhattan from north to south some day just so I can say I did it. Staying healthy, although Fate may have different plans for me. Signing up for a watercolor class.

What else do I aspire to? How about making a dent in that pile of books beside my bed. Growing peonies. Taking ballet lessons again. Brushing up on my Spanish. Visiting with my parents. Watching TV with my husband after a long day at work. Embarrassing my kids. Accepting the fact that being 60 years isn’t the same thing as being 30 years old.

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Sixty is not the new 30.

Or 40.

Or even 50.

Sixty is 60. And it has its own kind of beauty.

I don’t know, Christie Brinkley. Maybe being on the cover of People Magazine felt "empowering" to you, the way Getting Your Sexy On in Public is supposed to feel empowering in this post-feminist world. But the truth is that your cover kind of depressed me. Not because I don’t look like you. I never have and I never will — I owned that fact when you first started appearing on magazine covers when we were both in our 20s. But it’s discouraging to me that after all these years, women of all ages are still being urged to compare themselves physically to (frankly) unrealistic ideals.

Come on, World. Can’t we all just give it a rest?


Ann Cannon

P.S. I meant it when I said I hope you have a happy birthday.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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