Next month I turn 40. There you go, I said it. I TURN 40 (cue panic breathing into a brown bag). For some unfathomable reason this age has filled me with dread. From 35 onwards I felt that slight stir of panic about getting ever close to 40. Why?
I remember my mum turning 40.
Yes, I remember my mum turning 40 and little me thinking
“jeeez, she’s old”.
To be fair, when you are a child you think anyone over the age of 18 is positively ancient. My mum often jokes that she found turning 40 hard and that she took to her bed with a bottle of vodka. She didn’t though because somewhere I have photos (remember when we used to take photos and we had to wait to get them developed?!) of that day. My mum, glorious in her 80s perm that seemed to frame her face like a mahoosive halo (perhaps in my head it seemed like a halo because even though I thought she was ancient, I also thought she was pretty cool).
I Will Have A Harvester And A Stripper!
We had hit the Harvester with my Nan and Grandad and the stripper. No, sadly we didn’t inflict a stripper on my mum, the table next to us had one and I’ve never seen my Nan so excited, especially when the banana and whipped cream came out.… Oh the 80s were a different time. Not sure we would see a stripper popping up in a family restaurant nowadays, more’s the pity. I say bring the strippers back to the Harvester.
I will have a salad please with a side of sexual objectification.
I’ve always said that age is just a number and as a result I have point-blank refused to share my age before. I have friends who don’t know my actual age because I don’t want my age to define me. Is that the real reason? Am I really just buying into that idea that is perpetuated by the media, that any woman over 40 is “past it” and “not sexy” which I know is complete bollocks. I know plenty of successful women over 40. But I have found myself looking longingly at jobs thinking how I would love to apply, but also acknowledging that I probably have zero chance. No company will employ a washed up 40 year-old woman who has been out of the traditional workforce for 5 years.
I read a survey the other day that concluded how women over 40 are largely ignored by advertisers or 40 plus women are misrepresented.
“The survey revealed that 64 percent of women feel brands systematically underestimate their spending power; 80 percent feel brands systematically underestimate their intelligence; and 84 percent feel brands systematically overestimate their preoccupation with their physical appearance” – Campaign Alive
How depressing is that? I might be about to turn 40 but that doesn’t mean my life is over. The survey goes on to say that advertising aimed at the over 40s tends to show granny type figures with grey hair. Say whaaaaat! For the record, I don’t even have grey hair. It seems that advertisers see no difference between a 40 year-old and an 80 year-old. That’s insane and makes no sense. If anything I would say that advertisers should be tapping into the 40-50 market. This is an age where we are coming into ourselves. If we have children we have probably left the sleepless nights of the baby years behind. Our children are becoming more independent. However, if we want to we can still have a baby. We have more choices available to us and we are hopefully more financially secure.
Yes, I might not recognise the fresh 26 year-old from my honeymoon photos. But I also recognise how naive she was. I also know what a tough couple of years lays ahead of her. I’m very pleased that I am past that stage. Nor would I want to go back to my early 20s. That was just a mess of unsuitable relationships and partying a little too hard.
My only regret is that I still don’t know how to apply make-up and I still don’t have my life together as much as I would like. But as you get older you realise that no-one really has all of their shit together. Some are just better at pretending than others. The other day I was in the supermarket, browsing the cleaning aisle (I blame Mrs Hinch for that fact) and I overheard an 80 year-old woman talking to a man about how she doesn’t eat much. She was sharing her words of wisdom on how she mostly eats fruit. She then divulged that she had recently been ill and had lost lots of weight and was upset when she put it back on. She was stick thin. This was a woman in her 80s who was adamant about the fact that she never wanted any “disgusting rolls of fat”. I’m not going to lie, I was at this point very tempted to go and do the truffle shuffle in front of her with all my rolls of fat. But it hit me, that even at 80 we can find ourselves preoccupied with this seemingly perfect ideal of how we should look. If I am alive at 80, the thought of living as a Frugivore depresses me. I want to have my cake and eat it, for breakfast too if I fancy.
I’m Not Middle-Aged!
I’ve always thought that 40 years-old was the official start of middle-age but I’m not sure anymore. I still don’t listen to Classic FM, I still can’t knit and I don’t covert anything from Lands’ End. I haven’t chopped my hair off, it’s still long and I’m still dying it blonde. I still don’t really know how to dress myself properly. One day I will be able to work out what suits me. I live in jeans and tees. I don’t own anything with elastic waists.
I might still not be entirely confident in myself but I am incredibly excited for the next 10 years. I do know myself better, I know that I can’t stand bullshit and people who are two-faced. I’m more prepared to stand my ground and I keep my distance from toxic people. At nearly 40 I’ve realised that you can’t please everyone, some people will always think that you aren’t good enough, but I no longer care about them.
I’ve realised that I’m incredibly lucky to still be here and celebrating my 40th birthday. You know what? I want to shout it loud and proud. I want all the balloons, and the presents please, I want to celebrate, I’m going to be 40 so you had better watch out.
40 here I come!