Women Turn Into Their Own Mothers at 29

Janelle Harris

Aging womenSo word going around the web says that women are feeling old, raggedy, and over the hill as early as 29. Some gauge their haggardness by spotting their first gray hairs. Others when they catch themselves sounding like (oh dear God no!) their mothers. But most often because they’re seeing certain parts of their bodies sagging and sliding into places they’d never gone before.

Men, on the other hand, don’t feel old until roundabouts the ripe ol’ age of 58, and their geriatric fears have nothing to do with how they look. Age apparently ain’t nothin’ but a number for men until it hits them where it really hurts — in the sack. They’re fine until they discover they can’t lay down their sex game like they used to (if they ever could in the first place) and then, and only then, do they start feeling a bit aged. That, and when they start to find the music in bars and nightclubs obnoxiously loud. 

Nothing about sprouting man boobs made the list. No mention of the unruly hairs that start to snake out of their nose and ears, either. And none of the goings on that arise below the belt (or don’t) after a certain age seem to be as much of a concern as the actual act of using it. Getting old and funky and gnarled isn’t half as scary for a man as it is for a woman. That’s because no one puts pressure on them to look fantastic at any age, including us.

Yesterday, por ejemplo, the boyfriend noticed the peach fuzz that is the bane of my existence creeping back, all invited and whatnot, onto my upper lip. (I guess that was my fault for standing in the sunlight. Instead of making me glow like an angel, apparently it made me look furry like a wildebeest.)

Now, do I point out that his manhandles now bulge ever so gently through the sides of his shirt? Or that his hairline is giving his new growth some resistant push-back? But here I am scrambling to the nearest beauty supply store because some dude — albeit one that I happen to love — has pointed out a flaw that, almost like clockwork, didn’t get unruly until I turned 30.

Men don’t have half the hang-ups that we do. Probably not even a quarter. They live footloose and fancy-free, most of them unnecessarily so, while we’re scrunched over a magnified mirror plucking and scrubbing and blotting and grooming ourselves into a vision of youthful beauty. We have to jump through hoops — or at least zumba, pilate, and diet — squeeze into tight clothes, put our cleavage on display, work our rumps into bootyliciousness, color our hair, buff and smooth our skin, all in the name of being eternally young-looking.

And guys? Yeah, they have to roll out of bed, throw some gel or pomade into their hair, toss on whatever’s lying around that doesn’t need ironing, perform routine, basic hygiene, and ta-da! Ladies, commence to swooning. 

The corporate machine is fully aware of how desperate we are to look 25 when we’re 45, or be mistaken for 30 when we’re 60. If there were no us, there’d darn sure be no Miss Clairol, Oil of Olay, Botox, or Spanx. And plastic surgeons would surely suffer if we didn’t suffer from the psychosis that drives us to do nutty stuff like have so many surgeries we can't even squeeze our eyes shut or make the decision to go under the knife 52 times.

I rail against it, but I’m a clear participant in the madness. Most of us are, womanist, feminist, She-Ra girl power as we may be. It’s still, like, the most ultimate compliment to a woman over 18 to be mistaken for a much younger age. While sporting a sweatshirt with my alma mater’s name on it last week, I was asked by a man at the bus stop if I was home on spring break.

I almost kissed him on his mouth I was so flattered. Honey, I haven't been in college since Tae Bo was trendy.

But still, the double standard for aging and, heck, just looking good in general is so ridiculous that I have to wonder: If our husbands and boyfriends are chillin’, why do we allow them to put so much pressure on us to look young, fine, and fabulous, even when they don’t?

Image via moyerphotos/Flickr

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