At the risk of sounding like a dire curmudgeon, what is with everyone (by which I mean regular people, not celebrities whose bread and butter hinges on eternal youth) wanting to be young these days? Aren’t we old enough (by which I mean those beyond 30) to have gotten over being embarrassed about growing older? I thought 30 is the socially sanctioned age at which to get into a froth over one’s aging, and then one is officially old and can safely retire to bed at 10 pm (or earlier, ahem).
I missed the memo that said we should all aspire to youthfulness which apparently these days translates into not just looking and acting young but looking and acting hot. Or maybe I got the memo, but I fell asleep soon after and then forgot, because, you know, old age causes amnesia. And yay for that, having something to blame my forgetfulness on was much needed. (PS: I am aware that being old doesn’t necessarily mean being forgetful.)
So the other day a friend commented on how her 40th birthday is coming up and when she was a child, she thought 40 was so old and I chimed in agreeing and another friend interrupted to say that 40 is not old and I added: “As long as you’re not Henry VIII” and she took pains to point out to me that Henry XIII lived at a time when people died at 40, which I am well aware of and that was my point.
Medical science has marvelously extended our lifespan but maybe it would be good to remember that it is indeed an extension and thus, give our bodies a break. Yes, we have managed to make 40 the mid-point of life (I think). However, we have not defied aging entirely, and it still happens and maybe we can just accept it and take a nap already. So while we will not die at 40 as good old Henry did, we don’t need to live the equivalent of having eight wives either. We can slow down, let ourselves go a bit in the appearance department, be shameless in a way women of my mother’s age seem to have perfected (“Don’t worry, I’ll ask,” is something my mother says on a regular basis while stomping to counters and enquiring while I cringe in the background).
Instead, people seem uniformly insistent on looking “hot”.
Curly and I were having this discussion, and she made the valid point that psychologically and physically people are capable of more. As in, mentally maybe we can let ourselves do things that people would not let themselves do in the past because they were “too old”. I don’t know if this was really because of some psychological barrier or just the sheer conditions of life whereby most people had children and/or were trying to buy a house and therefore had neither time or money to spare on the extraneous things involved in being young and hot. But maybe there’s an element of truth to that – maybe our mothers would just not go to nightclubs in their 40s because although their children didn’t need them at home, they would stick out like sore thumbs?
Be that as it may, I feel the physical element cannot be denied. A late night hits harder at this age (made worse if you have kids who wake you up at 6 am), a hangover is more intense. Even the friend who dissed my Henry VIII point conceded that a hangover at 30 seems more intense, or at least “less worth it”. So there’s a psychological element – we’ve grown up and therefore feel we don’t need to put our bodies through that particular experience anymore – and a physical element whereby the experience of a hangover itself hits the body harder. On the other hand, it’s possible that some people having discovered physical fitness later in life feel more energetic now than before, but I’m comparing bodies at the same fitness level. I have aches and pains now that I never did before.
And that’s ok. I also have a hell of a lot more confidence. And I like sleeping early, and resting, and being slightly ignored because I’m not young and shiny, and occasionally being perceived as having gravitas. It’s a different life stage. Why fight it?
Also, why fight it with this obsession with “sexy”? People striking sexy poses in photos has begun to annoy me. It is impossible to see a photo of women these days without them being side angled or sticking their legs out. I compare these to our photos in our teens when we were all brazenly facing the camera fully frontal and grinning like baboons, hair frizzy and pores glistening. How charming we were then. I’m serious.