An Unfair Age for a Woman

by June 23, 2012
filed under Activism

My birthday is this weekend… thank you… thank you… yes, thank you some more. I’m turning 27, and I can’t deny that the number itself is beginning to bum me out – a lot. It shouldn’t have that negative effect on my psyche, because deep in my heart I know that 27 is still very young and I should be thrilled that I’ve still a few  years away from that life-changing dirty thirty. Yet, I can’t help but feel old as the number just seems like an unfair age for a woman to experience.

Being a woman isn’t easy. There’s pressure to be thin, to be beautiful and most importantly, to stay young. Ageism is just as prevalent in mass culture as fat-bashing, but it seems just so much more socially acceptable to judge a person based on their age (or the age they appear to be). I don’t look 27, at least that’s been my interpretation from the number of times I’ve heard, “I thought you were, like, 22!” so I know I’m doing something right with my skin. I use sunscreen, I exfoliate and moisturize daily, and I’m lucky that I was just born with really good skin.

So why should I feel so shitty about turning an age that is agreeably still young? As men get older, they’re considered more “refined,” the lines on their faces are “distinguished” and a silver strands are considered “sexy.” Well, I started to go grey at the ripe age of 21, and for the last six years have been colouring my hair with a frequency that borders on obsessive. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my grey little hair-buddies, but young women are supposed to be, well, young and grey hair is an indicator of age. I look at the lines in my husband’s face and although we’re the same age, I love how they make him look wise. I love how you can see the crinkles from smiling around his eyes. But I’m terrified for the day they show up on my face – which is completely inevitable (even for the seemingly immortal Shannon M. who always looks about 32).

Because women aren’t supposed to get old. Then when we do get old, mass media teaches that we become “un-sexy” and expendable. Older actresses and musicians are either considered “distinguished” (a kind word for “too old to do that shit anymore”) or they’re replaced by younger versions that both men and women begin to fawn over. Even Madonna, who is still unbelievably sexy regardless of her age, gets hassled for being too old. As if she can do anything to avoid it. And if the vixen that is Madonna gets criticized for being sexy  old, what’s a Plain-Jane like me supposed to do about it? I’m not rich enough for treatments, and I doubt that I’ll ever be scientisty enough to discover some anti-aging miracle.

There seems to be only two categories for women when it comes to age: Too young to respect, and too old to be sexy. Well you know what? Screw you ageism! Screw you good!

I’m tired of you telling me that wrinkles are some sort of marker like the due date on a carton of milk. I don’t go bad when I pass a certain date. I don’t turn sour and make you disappointed when you pour me onto your corn flakes cause there are lumps and shit. If anything women are like wine, we get stronger, tastier, and get your drunker on our tasty selves the longer we stick around.

Visit Tannis’ blog, Curvy Coup D’etat.

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