I don’t much mind getting old.
I mean, I’m not bloody happy about these sodding wrinkles that keep springing up, creating paths across my face that make-up falls into and make me consider losing my thick black eyeliner on an almost daily basis. I wish I were perkier looking, but I did have a few drinks last night. And I just don’t ping back like I used to.
Everything is slowing down as year after year my cells degenerate and my skin and bones become that little bit shabbier and well-used. I diet constantly and slap on more serum, moisturiser and primer in a vain attempt to fend off the inevitable avalanche of time. It’s never enough. And I’ve begin to wonder whether it’s worth sacrificing fun for looks – kicking the prosecco and serenely yoga-ing my way into my forties.
My husband, on the other hand, is more attractive now than the day I met him. He has a solid handsomeness, borne of parenthood, responsibility and professional success. He takes care of himself, but he doesn’t really need to worry that much. Time is good to him. As a couple, however, we have reached the point where, from here on, in the eyes of the world, we are looked upon differently.
Men seem to ascend through life. By this I mean that time greatly improves them in the eyes of the world. Age equals experience, capability and confidence for men in a way that it does not, has not and cannot for women. Yet that’s not to say that all woman fall into decrepitude and men do not, clearly that would be a sweeping generalisation and a criminal disservice to every incredible woman I know. What I mean and know is that perception of women changes dramatically as they age. What are considered to be the critical feminine attributes are largely only applicable to the young.
Biologically speaking, women are designed to be appealing during their peak of fertility. This was an extremely effective tool during the population of our species (which I like to call the ‘The Cro-Magnon Yates’s Age’ where people literally grunted at each other and fucked. From what I see on the Idiot Box, little changes in many town centres on a Saturday night). In the modern world this has many consequences, the most negative of which bases women’s value around little more than age and looks. This is what I find saddest about being a woman. We’re not considered genuinely of value during the period of time when we’re at our most healthy, but when our fertility is ebbing and we enter our late thirties, we are valued even less.
If you were expecting a rant here then you’re probably going to be heartily disappointed. My anger on this matter has turned to great sadness as I age. This is for two reasons:
- Despite decades of raging feminism, half-hearted feminism, power-dressing, a female prime minister, if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em laddism, and Madonna, the same judgments still remain.
- It’s not an issue that will apply to me for much longer.
I am entering a period of my life where my looks or my age matter less and less. I am entering an age of assumption where everyone sees (or more likely, looks past) a middle-aged woman. It is assumed that I have achieved everything I’m going to in my life and…well, nothing more is assumed because I am slowly ceasing to be relevant in a world that only notes the most impactful of fascias. Worse still, if I do stride loudly through my forties and fifties in lipstick and five inch heels then I will be considered the immodest exception rather than the rule. God forbid we draw too much attention to ourselves.
I should be fucking furious about this. Feminism dictates that I should be in shit-kicking spasms of anger. And on behalf of my daughters future I AM about as angry as a mother can be about this, but not on my own behalf. You see, for the time being, being older is not about entitlement, it’s about fighting. And fighting, as I’ve mentioned previously, is one of my favourite pastimes.
Yes, I wage war against my ageing skin with a cacophony of different lotions and potions, taking longer and longer each day to look more or less the same (as the wonderful Kate Jackson once sang), but I am also now more able to do what’s important without the constant shiny vellum of condescension getting in the way of my goal. I am no longer worried about being under scrutiny in the way I was as a young woman. The assumption that I am somehow less gives me more.
That element of surprise, the refusal to compromise, the ability to speak my mind, the freedom to be my own person and a Janus-like view of the passage of time that will allow me to teach my daughter to battle her way through womanhood whilst looking to my own future. My age is now my greatest asset.
Which makes a pleasant change from it being my tits.