A Woman Young (More thoughts on perception & attractiveness)

“Enjoy the last day of your mid-thirties!” ~ My Sister

So, tomorrow is my 36th birthday—a birthday I considered no different than any other until my youngest sister gave me a piece of torn notebook paper (serving as a birthday card) with a hand-drawn mountain surrounded by angry ravens labeled “The Hill” and a stick figure climbing it labeled “You.”

Just prior to receiving this lovely tidbit of birthday joy, I was still high off of a conversation I had had a few days prior:

Me and a 23-year-old co-worker:

“You know, I really, well sometimes, okay most of the time, still think I’m just like you girls.  I mean I feel like I’m still that young.  I even sort-of trick myself into thinking I look that young too.”

“Well, yeah, that’s awesome.  Plus it’s all in how you feel.”

“Yeah, well, I turn thirty-six on Tuesday and I feel great.  I’m like [insert hip dance moves and an I-still-got-it grin].”

“Thirty-six?!? No way! I thought you were still in your late twenties or, at most, your early thirties…”

“Yessss! You totally know what I mean then.”

When I relayed this conversation to my sister, post card opening (if you can call a piece of torn paper a card), she just looked at me very dead-pan and said “She was lying.”

Lying?  No. No, no, no, no.

I’m still in the prime of my youth, right? Right?

Okay, I have this friend who’s on OkCupid who wants me, when I feel comfortable and compelled by the online dating scene, to join. I’ve wondered how I might describe myself.  I don’t know that I have a sense, truly, of who I am to those who reside outside my mind.  Most of my life it’s been one day sexy curvy, one day blimp. Lately, however, as one may have noted in my “A Big Woman” post, my perception of self is entirely skewed by my recent burst of self-confidence.  I, of course, think I am highly attractive and supremely young though, realistically, I would have to check the has-clusters-of-gray-hair-&-multiple-pounds-to-lose box.

So, youth, has it already been wasted on me?  Am I fast approaching over-the-hilldom in which stereotyping says I will lose my fun-lovingness and ability to be considered attractive?

No. I am just wiser and more wonderful and still very, very (very, very?) young.

What does that mean?

It means that I still think 27-year-olds want to take me out for drinks. Seriously.  (Wiser, eh???)

I have this great friend who, at the ripe old age of forty-two, is quite self-conscious about her age.  (With me in my “hide my hips shaper” and her in her “covered gray,” we make quite the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of single women on the town—both wildly [or at least somewhat] insecure about qualities that may or may not matter.  I tend to think that they only matter to certain men. You know, of the self-centered, shallow, and ass hole variety.  But, hey.)

Anyhow, this friend, seems, at times, to think that her age is some sort-of stumbling block, some prohibiting device, as if she’s been kicked out of the “cool kids” club and entered some other dark and exclusionary world.  This depresses me and she laughs and insists on telling me about how the body shifts at forty, about how the knees creak and the pounds are more difficult to lose.  I think she is crazy as she is both terribly hip and exceedingly gorgeous.  Still, more reason to Get in Shape Girl sooner rather than later.

And, I have noticed how objects, history, and cultural icons have begun to date me.  I was speaking with a high school student about a high speed chase and I referenced OJ Simpson as if his “racing” along Los Angeles freeways happened yesterday.  Of course, I got a blank stare.  I have also realized that I could hit “like” most of the time on those FaceBook posts that implore you to hit like if you recognize the ancient object in this picture.  Worse yet, I meet adults out-on-the-town that I taught as pre-teens.  When asked “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” I usually think “This youngin thinks I’m totally rad” only to be mortified when they place me as the authoritarian figure in their 7th grade classroom. Ummm, it sucks.

But, still, I’m so full of myself that none of this seems to matter.  Facts in hand– even those that could lead my ego astray– still don’t deflate my youthful bubble.

Alright, that’s a bit of a lie.

I remember watching The Holiday around, well, the holidays, and listening to Cameron Diaz say something about women being more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to find a date after thirty. I must admit, I was afraid.

Now, in thinking about writing this post, I Googled “age and attractiveness” and found this horrid graph made by this horrid blogger who apparently believes that women’s attractiveness (as defined by how many people would want to have sex with them) drastically declines after age thirty.  (While, of course, a man’s attractiveness does not decline until their mid-fifties.) I must admit again that my heart leapt. How evil.  How heartless.  How true???

Is it a reality that men are only interested in twenty-somethings?  Or, is it more accurate that, as I have been told, that despite their big talk, men are actually “into everything?”  And, why am I even talking about men?  Is it also true then, that for a heterosexual woman, a man’s desire defines their very sense of youth and beauty?


No. Maybe. I don’t know.

(There may have been other depressing studies that backed up this screwed up claim…  But, we will ignore all of those.)

Honestly, in my mind, it is as my co-worker said, “it’s all in how you feel.” I know I risk sounding completely repetitive but I still believe that if you exude “I’m attractive” you are.  If you scream “I’m young and happening” then you are.

So, thirty-six? Big whoopee-doo-da.

Despite the cassette tapes I still own and the “laugh lines,” I’m still young, I’m still hot, I’m still happening.  I stick my tongue out at you Reaper and at the men who are caught up by the twenties physique.

You have no idea what you are missing.


1 Comment

  1. Andrea said,

    September 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    So true Em! The Thirties and Forties are the best. You are definitely hip and happenin’. 🙂

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