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AGING GRACEFULLY

40 is not the new 30



Radhika Vaz

In a few months I will be 40, and the reason that I am thrilled about it is I can finally tell all those annoying pests who say '40 is the new 30' to shove right off. 40 is not the new 30. I am 40. I have been here for 40 years. Not 39 not 38 and certainly not 30. I get what they are trying to say - in the old days a 40-year-old was an auntyji who had back fat, and wore mom-jeans, but today, things have changed and a 40-year-old is different right?

Wrong.

The only thing that has changed is that instead of spending all our time worrying about how we look and seem to other people until we are 30, now we get to keep going for another bloody decade. All that we have done is increase the number of years that we are obliged to stay YOUNG. Because, let's be honest, in the youth-obsessed culture we now subscribe to, that is all that counts.

And who even comes up with this shit? I'll tell you who. The same turnip who came up with 'inside every skinny girl is a fat girl waiting to get out'. This is not true. I have been patiently waiting for the fat girl to come crawling out of Christy Turlington. I have been waiting for this to happen since the early 1990s, since that annoying George Michael video with all the super-models. Not going to happen. Because inside every skinny girl is another skinny girl, and inside her is another skinnier girl and so on. They are like those Russian nesting dolls. There is no fat girl inside a skinny girl and being 40 is not the new 30.

And until I heard this nonsense I thought getting older was normal. Actually I thought it was fabulous. When I was a kid, my dad was allowed to smoke what he wanted, drink what he wanted, eat whatever the hell he wanted to, he could stay up late and not bathe if he felt like it, all because he was OLD. So naturally, I couldn't wait. Also, when I was growing up in India, asking a woman her age wasn't a problem. It wasn't a rude question;it was just a question like 'Madam how tall are you?'

But now the foolishness has spread and even in my Motherland asking a woman her age is a rude question. And the reason it's rude is because the whole problem with being older is that you look older and looking your age is now an insult. The word 'old' is now an abuse. It's an affront. We have managed to take a natural stage of life and make it insulting. Old is the new fat.

I recently got into a conversation about age with an acquaintance of mine (she was a friend who got downgraded immediately after this interaction) and I said 'I know I look 40 and I am ok with it' and she lost it!
'NONONONONONO you don't look 40, are you crazy! You are so fit! You don't look 40, not you'.

I know she was trying to make me feel better but all she managed to do was irritate the crap out of me.

Of course, the part that bugs me most is that this is a woman problem, because while our male counterparts dissolve into a sagging, drooping mass of 40-year-old bitchtits, they are called distinguished and sexy and we are called cougars! Ladies, a word was made up to describe us! Men get to enjoy their 40s with a beer, a pile of pancakes and no hair, but I get no rest. I am still supposed to have the face, body, and enthusiasm I had 10 years ago. And I can't keep up! Because being 40 is nothing like being 30.

Thirty can mix dark rum and vodka shots with wild abandon, vomit it all up and then bounce back to life only to repeat the whole process again the next night. At 40 if I mix rum and vodka shots it is entirely possible that I will die. If I survive, I will not look like I have a hangover;I will look like a hangover, like the flakey, beige balls of a very old, sick basset hound. Look, we all want to appear to be 'aging gracefully' which used to mean that you were graceful about aging, you didn't bitch, you didn't moan, and you didn't believe stupid little sayings, you just got on with your life, but now 'aging gracefully' basically means not aging at all. Not physically, not mentally, not emotionally, not spiritually. So we have a bunch of 40-year-olds who look like 30-year-olds with the emotional intelligence of a 20-year-old. There are many things about aging that suck but there are some wonderful things too. Experience, patience, introspection - are all glorious things that typically come with age, and to deny this is to deny our own development. 40 isn't the new 30, but if we carry on like this 40 will soon be the new stupid.

Vaz is a New York-based comedian and the writer and performer of the one-woman show 'Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety'. She is also a freelance writer, weightlifter, and nagging wife. www. radvaz. com

Reader's opinion (1)

Sucheta DasguptaDec 13th, 2012 at 19:10 PM

Almost there. Fairly fit but hate being 'judged' by younger women for greys. Respect to that extent seems to be reserved for men my age among both sexes.

 
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