The Washington Post

Texas woman wants to be cheerleader at age 55

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders performing at Cowboys Stadium last Thanksgiving. (Tom Pennington/GETTY IMAGES)

Incredulous local news reports about the tryout garnered national attention Monday, with panting pickups in the Huffington Post, Yahoo Sports blog, USA Today, and more.

The general tenor of the coverage is as follows:

Get this: She is 55.

No way!

Yes, way!

What does she look like, dude?

She has rock hard abs!

No way!

Yes, way.

Since this story also featured a video of the grandma, Sharon Simmons, competing with hundreds of other (younger) women, it snagged a lot of attention. Did we mention it’s all about looks?

Simmons is a fitness instructor who, as luck would have it, has landed a role in the upcoming remake of the TV series “Dallas.’’ You know, the show with the famous cliffhanger, “Who shot J.R.?’’ and a bunch of beautiful women.

Lest you think that show is an self-absorbed aberration, please note the buzz about ABC’s “GCB,’’ which had to sanitize its title after American Family AssociationFox News and others raised a fuss.

The show is about a divorced mother of two who moves back to a fictional Dallas suburb which bears a striking resemblance to the elite enclave of Highland Park. GCB’s been called a Christian-bashing version of “Desperate Housewives.’’ What’s not to love?

Meanwhile, Simmons, the granny cheerleader, has displayed her own marketing savvy as author of the book "Triple F: Fifty, Fit and Fabulous." 

Despite those accomplishments, she told interviewers that trying out for cheerleader was the fulfillment of a dream she’d delayed since she was in her 20s.

To that, I say brava. Let each and every one of us in her 50s enthusiastically tackle a dream deferred.

Let us affirm each sister’s choice, however trivial it may seem.

And let us pray for a day when an attractive 55-year-old woman is not derisively marginalized as a “grandma,’’ even as fit, active men the same age are referred to as “athletes.’’

Lori Stahl covers politics in Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @LoriStahl.



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