Did Luke Perry Die Young?

by Debbie White

by Debbie White

Luke Perry just died. At 52.

My first reaction to hearing that he died was:  OMG! He’s so young! And of a stroke! Awful. That could be me; I’m 52, too!

It makes me ponder what our culture deems young or old.

Fifty-two is young to be the president of the United States. Young for the average death in the US. Middle-aged for a male CMO. Old for a woman on a magazine cover. Old for a woman looking for a job.

The average onset of menopause is 52. Shit.

So, is 52 young or old? Is 52 young on a tombstone, but old if you’re still alive?

Is 52 young on a tombstone, but old if you’re still alive?

The media we consume tells us who’s young, who is old, who is desirable, and who is invisible. Why do they get to decide?

When I scroll through my social media, do you know what ads target me? Pee proof panties, which pisses me off (pun intended). My friends and I are in our 50s and are active, fashionable, and go to work every day. The ads fed to me are either 20-year-olds’ lip gloss videos or pee panties, with very little in between.

I don’t see any 52-year-old women in my favorite shows or movies, unless (according to an unscientific study of TV shows I watch) they’re depicted as caricatures. I feel normal, why is everyone else reduced to a stereotype?

Anyway, back to the unfortunate passing of Luke Perry and why it affected me deeply even though I only know him from grocery store magazine covers from the 90s. He was my contemporary and he died of something that happens to “old people.” I feel my mortality. But I’m asking myself—and all of us—was Luke Perry old? Hell no. Am I old? Outside of my mirror, I emphatically say no. But it depends on who’s answering.

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