Aspen Princess: J Lo’s 50 looks a little different than Aspen 50 … and we like it like that

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

“You’re turning 50 this year, too, right?” I asked my friend Denise when I ran into her at the ARC the other day. She was herding her two boys around to their various after-school activities and looking slightly overwhelmed.

I’ve known Denise since I first moved here in 2002 and we’ve been on the same trajectory ever since. We both ditched our professional career trajectories to become snowboard instructors; we were both riddled by disastrous relationships throughout our 30s; we met our husbands around the same time, got married around the same time, and had kids in our forties. We both left our hard-partying, bad-judgment days behind us and managed to forge a happy life that balances family, career and still leaves a little room for resort-living fun.

She nodded. “Yep, I’m turning 50. Now I just need a crotch-less bodysuit like J Lo.”

There’s no doubt that 50 has been redefined thanks to J Lo and the unforgettable Super Bowl halftime show that quickly eclipsed images of Kobe Bryant and instead clogged your social media feed with golden curves, lots of glitter and a mane of honey-colored hair. Some were offended by its sexually provocative tone (“A little too many crotch shots for this Mimi,” my mother-in-law commented), and some were inspired by it. Some loved the message of diversity and the political overtones celebrating diversity, immigrants and the Latino culture that has become an integral part of America.

Many women complained that J Lo had simply had made them feel bad about themselves, especially at an age when you’re supposed to be let off the hook for trying to reach an ideal look. The best-selling Chick Lit author Jennifer Weiner, (who is my age and from the same small town in Connecticut as me) wrote an op-ed in The New York Times with the headline, “I Feel Personally Judged by J Lo’s Body” and bemoaned the fact that this incredible performance by this talented performer had left her feeling bad about herself.

I recently interviewed a 46-year-old entrepreneur who told me, “I am anti-anti-aging.” She explained she has decided to embrace the natural aging process and as such will not interfere with cosmetic medicine or even go so far as coloring her graying hair.

Good for her.

I would pour battery acid over my head if I thought it was going to make me look younger. In fact, I do slather my face every night with everything from salicylic acid and retinol to pumpkin enzymes to fight the signs of aging. I’ll inject anything into my face as long as it makes me look younger and has less than a 1% chance of permanently maiming or killing me. I will die with blonde hair, thank you very much. I haven’t seen a glimpse of my real hair color since I discovered the peroxide treatment Sun In in 1983 and have no reason to go back now.

I don’t need J Lo to make me hard on myself. I’ve been doing that for more than half my life already.

Still, I understand she’s a performer, she won the genetic lottery, and can hire a glam squad to provide the endless treatments available to combat aging. If I could afford a $1,000 laser facial once a month, I would do it, too. If you have the money, you can look amazing whether you have genetics on your side or not. There’s literally nothing cosmetic medicine can’t fix — just look at Khloe Kardashian.

J Lo isn’t the first one to maintain a youthful, flawless appearance longer than seems fair. Jane Fonda, Cher and Christie Brinkley have been doing it for decades. Hell, Katherine Hepburn was around long before Botox was invented, but she managed to stay young by swimming in the ice-cold Atlantic ocean in front of her house in Fenwick, Connecticut, every single day, even in winter.

Aspen, like Hollywood, is a land of beautiful people who can afford this stuff. We also have the luxury of an active lifestyle and an outdoor paradise that makes it easy to stay healthy and take good care of ourselves. We’ve already set the bar pretty high — we don’t need J Lo for that.

I have to admit, when I look in the mirror on the eve of my fifth decade and what is invariably past the midway point of my life, I see signs of aging I don’t like. I ponder how far I’m willing to go and for how long I’m willing to fight a battle I can’t win. Maybe that woman I interviewed who is anti-anti-aging already won. Or maybe she’s still too young to make that claim.

Maybe I am hard on myself when my body isn’t as toned as I would like, despite the hours I put in working out or the foods I don’t allow myself to eat. Maybe I do wish I could afford those laser treatments or even a little nip-and-tuck (though after my recent eye surgery I did realize that cosmetic surgery is where I have to draw the line of how far I’m willing to go and the risks I’m willing to take).

Then I realized what makes me feel young isn’t what I see in the mirror. It’s standing on top of Highland Bowl or ripping through the playful terrain in Hanging Valley Glades at Snowmass. It’s standing on my hands in yoga and still being able to still do splits and backbends. It’s hurtling myself into the ball pit in the Game Room at The Collective at Snowmass Base Village after skiing the tree trails with my young son. It’s stealing a romantic kiss with my husband of almost a decade on the gondola, when we have to turn our heads to an awkward angle to touch lips with our goggles on.

Those are the moments when I think to myself, “Pretty good for 50.”

The Princess has only 24 days left in her 40s. Email your love to