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Why does society care?

By Anonymous July 22, 2009 - 12:46pm
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Three months ago, I turned 41 and I still feel very young and energetic. In fact, I am very slim, toned and fit; more so than when I was in my 20's and 30's. I look quite young and guys in their 20's ask me out, though I rarely say yes. I get very annoyed when people find out how old I am and then immediately proceed to be amazed and shocked, as if I were old. I think that 41 is still young and refuse to believe that it is all downhill from here. I see my life getting better and my body getting fitter and more supple. I am very happy and though single, have lots of possibilities. I have no kids and don't really want any and people are also surprised by this.

Why does society perceive 41 as being "old"? Why are people not expected to look good at this age?
I have friends who feel all washed up and I feel like a teenager. To be honest, most of them have children and have let themselves go a little, as their priorites have changed. They live more for their kids than for themselves. Some of them even use their kids pics rather than their own as a profile picture on facebook! This is all fine but maybe it makes them feel older?
Anyhow, I want to stop caring about what society thinks! How can I train myself to do this. I do NOT accept that a 22 year old woman is automatically "better", as she is younger, I also feel that life is what you make of it and any of us can be what we want to be. I saw a photo of a 70 year old woman doing yoga. She was so supple and bendy! Why do people convince themselves that they can no longer dance or sing or become great artists past a certain age? Why can't 41 be seen as young?
I am thinking of no longer having Birthdays, not because of my age but because of how people change their attitudes when they find out how old I am!!! From now on, I may just say that I am somewhere between 20 and 50!

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HERWriter Guide

"supple and bendy"! I like that!


I think the reason why people think 41 (or over 30, for that matter!) is old is because the media has glorified being under 25 to such an extreme that anything over that age pales in comparison. But then again, the media has glorified lots of things, from extremely skinny bodies to selling one's virginity for cold hard cash. Consider your sources!

As far as people who "let themselves go" and "live for their kids" once they become parents - in defense of parents, it's difficult for many parents to get any time to actually work on their "looks" and for some women, child-bearing can cause weight gain that is difficult (though not impossible!) to lose. And living for their kids isn't so bad - it beats living for oneself all the time. But there has to be a happy medium, right?

Why does it bother you that others don't look great all the time? My whole family is my current pic on Facebook. Why is this an issue? We can all have whatever we want on our avatars or myspaces etc. It means something to us - what it means to others should not matter. The fact that someone may be thinking "oh look, she has her whole family on there and not just her own face gazing out to the world - she has let herself go!" is kind of funny to me!

Before I had kids, I never realized the time needed to really invest in children and their needs. It's beyond a full-time occupation, it can be all-consuming at times. In a perfect world, we'd be glamorous mothers who "have it all!" but time, money and means cause different people to take different turns.

On another note, some people just don't give a hoot how they look! They're happy, they just don't care if they wear sweats or have their hair permanently in a scrunchie! More power to them! If they are happy, then onward, soldiers! If they are not, maybe they could do with a little helping hand now and again - who knows? Next time you see a pal who is tired and overwhelmed, I bet she'd love you to ask her if she could do with a hand or just be an shoulder for her.

I'm not sure if people are not expected to look good at an "older" age. I see older teens and young 20s hanging out, looking pretty scruffy. Then on a night out, I see an older crowd, dressed up to the nines. And vice versa. It might also depend on where you live. Many French women look fantastic at any age. So do a lot of New Yorkers.

So do I ;)

Why the dismay that people are shocked that you look good? Take it as a compliment and move on! All that frowning will give you wrinkles, girl! A doctor told me it was awesome I had all my kids really young and I'd still be young and flying around once they all left home. I had my kids at 34, 35 and 36 - she assumed I was 30 and I'm 39. I took it as a compliment and it was. I also take good care of myself and didn't let myself "go" but I also don't spend much time thinking about my looks or how young I look as it can be detrimental to one's emotional health to do this.

You are right, life is anything we want it to be but to me, you do sound a little angry that you're getting a bit older. If you are truly content and fulfilled, you wouldn't get so mad about it all, perhaps?

It's our biological instinct to procreate so this is why people may wonder about you not having kids. As humans (and all species) we're genetically driven to have off-spring. But for many humans, it's a choice. No-one should be weird or different if they have no kids - and besides, childless/childfree people are on the increase!

Just move on from those silly comments (and really, no-one has the right to say those things!) but believe me, many childless people make comments about women with lots of kids and and how their bodies change that's also not acceptable either. I had a brood all back to back and people have made negative comments. We all need to live and let live! I think people make comments about anything and anyone!

Think about how morbidly obese people are made to feel or how the disabled are ignored. Think of the pressure that teen girls feel to be thin and how teen boys are made to feel like losers if they're not on the football team or in a cool band? How about senior citizens? Their complaint? They are made to feel invisible. That's terrible.

Every person, in any phase of life, has societal challenges and opinions to deal with. From kids to teens to 20s, 40s, 60s and on up.

Live your best life and it will be reflected back on you. When I turn 40, we're throwing a great dinner party at a great restaurant with lots of friends and it's a celebration. I can't wait!! If you have a great life at 41 and someone makes you feel bad for being 41, just look at them like they are insane! They are! I have a wonderful life at 39 - why on earth would I want to hand it back? For what? To be 25 again? Nu-uh! Not on your life!

I live in a hippie town - age is nothing! I see all these women in their 60s and 70s - many who went to Woodstock exactly 40 years ago and they are happy as clams. They have such inner content and inner peace and such humor, I could hang with these broads all day!

I'm not sure how you can "train" yourself to ignore these things. I think that perhaps these comments are not as bad as you think but it seems that way because you're sensitive to it. Only you know you - so it's hard to give advice. But don't be angry about the comments. Smile, say thanks and move on. Or ignore them! Remember that happiness - true happiness - is the best revenge :) When you have true happiness, you'll not give a hoot who thinks what about your age.

Here are some quotes on aging, I hope you enjoy them - some are inspirational and some are just plain funny!


July 22, 2009 - 1:42pm

Hi there! It sounds like you just need to let go. Forget what "society" thinks. Age is so relative anyway, and I think most people realize this. As more and more of our boomer population are entering their later years, the 40's and 50's will seem a lot younger than perceived in the past by a lot of people. (Don't they say that 40 is the new 30??)

I'll be turning 44 in the not too distant future and I'm proud to say my age out loud. I feel like I've earned every one of those years, and I'm grateful for my health and how good I feel. I'm always really flattered when people are surprised by my age.

When people ask you how old you are and then are amazed at your age, why do you feel annoyed?

July 22, 2009 - 1:40pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Kristin Davis)

Kristin, you look rockin'.

Most women I know are late 30s and early 40s to mid 40s and most of them look really good - and young! I don't think it's that unusual to be 40 and look...wow. Most women I know look amazing but I don't think they give it a second thought - maybe that's part of why they look so good - it's the entire-package-thing. A lack of self-consciousness or something.

July 22, 2009 - 1:51pm
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