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So... I'm 39 today. Should I be worried?


It used to be that the media would tell me that at almost 40, I am no longer attractive to men, and I should just hide my wrinkly self in shame, as older women are not fit for the world. Only golden young things dare show their faces.

Thank God for a generation of Baby Boomer women throwing a collective wobbly and getting their way. While Nights in Rodanthe was a dreadful, dreadful movie, it does at least show that older women can still be romantic leads.

(We will not mention Nicole Kidman and her amazing porcelain features that look almost human - she was preserved eternally with a mixture of Botox and mortician's wax several years ago. This is why she wears the exact same expression whether she's a cabaret singer dying of consumption or a fugitive from pod people.)

To hell with Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson, who insist on female leads that are at least thirty years younger than them (And man, are those men unattractive; RR appears to have melted over the years, while JN just... ick).

I could be deep about growing old, but people are always deep and introspective on their birthdays, and I simply don't care. So here's a poem, with apologies to Jenny Joseph:

When I am an old woman, I shall wear black
and elegant clothes that suit my figure.
And I shall prove that it is not neccessary
To wear velour jogging suits and short hair
Just because I am past child-bearing age.

I shall grow my hair long, and allow it to go grey
without dye - unless I choose to dye it because I like the colour.
I shall refuse Botox, and refuse to be invisible
or "interesting", or "eccentric".
I will continue to care about clothes
and inspire younger women.

Old Age is not for the weak,
and those women who do what everyone expects
and cut their hair short, and wear red hats,
and pretend they don't care about getting old,
but fight it all the way with cosmetics and surgery
will fall beneath my black-stockinged, high-heel shod feet.

When I am an old woman I will be beautiful
because old women are beautiful
with all a lifetime in their faces
that should not be erased by surgery, or poisons
injected into the cheeks, filling the "creases".
I like my creases. They speak of me.

I shall be elegant, and old.
I will dispense advice, and have opinions,
I will be loud, and I will be heard.
And I will continue to learn
about all the things still waiting patiently
to be learnt.


( 91 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Dec. 2nd, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
I like your poem. You're gonna make a hell of a kick-hinney old woman when you get around to getting old. I suspect that you will have to work for a couple of decades before the rest of us acknowledge your 'oldness', however.

Me, I'm liking it. I buy silly socks now, and wear them, 'cause "Heck, it's never going to be any more socially acceptable than it is now, so why wait?" And I've found myself considering cutting my hair, partially because it does seem as though old women do, but also because it hasn't been short in, um, over 20 years. But then I'd have to wear a veil or hat on the weekends and I hate that. So long hair it is... it's good to be old and base your 'cosmetic' decisions on laziness rather than vanity. :)

Edited at 2008-12-02 12:58 pm (UTC)
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:00 pm (UTC)
I just passed the 40 mark a couple of years ago and I think your poem is brilliant.

Happy birthday!
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday! And I also fully intend to be a long-haired old woman, with this enormous salt-and-pepper bun on the back of my head.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
I've fond memories of watching my grandmother take down her bun, all gray beautiful with dark-brown streaks running through her hair. I totally want that. :)
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday.
I am 43 and proud of it! As you say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with turning 40, let alone 39. Enjoy it.
(I am more comfortable with myself now than I was in my 20's. Ugh!)

Dec. 2nd, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
I am 29 and keep forgetting that I'm not already 30. Ever since my professors in college (at a party, there were several discussing this) agreed that the 30s are much better than the 20s, I have been looking forward to them. It was nice, because I was having a crisis at not having published My Novel yet at 23. (I know. Could you have stood me either?)
But then they said that one's 40s weren't half bad either.

I love your poem because while the first time I read that red hat one, I thought it was kind of cute, but ever since I've been sort of annoyed by it. I'd rather not have to do anything because my age has reached a certain number...
(no subject) - lady_guenievre - Dec. 2nd, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
39? Don't worry yet. Make sure you do all the things this year that you don't dare next year.

But yeah, 40 is hard.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
40 is nothing! I think 70 scares me more than any other age. Mostly because things are starting to quit working properly at that point. My grandparents are in their 90s and I'm pretty convinced I don't want to live to that age. Not unless science can help keep all the parts working and the mind sharp.

But age is a state of mind and yours is young and creative. Happy Birthday!

Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC)
If 50 is the new 30, doesn't that make you.......19?

Happy Birthday!!!
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
Oh come now, young lady, you're far from over the hill. I daresay you can't even see the other side of the hill from where you stand!

I have (mumble) years on you and I know many ladies in my own age bracket who still catch my eye.

Every age has its own beauty, its own magic. The Apostle wrote that when a child, he thought and felt as a child; and when he became a man, he put away childish things.

Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday! And no, you have nothing to worry about! I've got a good head start on you and its all good so far!
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday! Have a great day!

Awesome poem. I'll be 39 in April.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
May today be your happiest birthday ever.
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
I lost my 20s to depression, too bad, but I wouldn't go back.
The thirties rocked! I found myself and good things started.
I'm in my 40s now. And I wouldn't go back. Enjoy!
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
I think I've always resented the fact that society beleives men become "distinguished" and women become old when they age... Like once my uterus and fallopian tubes stop cycling I no longer have any use.
I don't believe that, and I won't allow anyone to treat me like that.
I feel more connected to the personality that is me now, at 37 years, 6 months and 9 days than I ever did when I was in my teens or twenties, and I like myself a helluva lot more. I'm interesting, intellegent, and my husband thinks I'm sexy and sensual. My daughters respect and love me. I have interesting, intellegent friends.
I love your poem. I'm going to copy it for my wall.
(On a side note, I've never seen my mom more irritated than when someone sent her that "Red Hat" poem for her birthday one year... sort of scary, it was.)
Happy birthday!!
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
I'm 39 and have been since last summer. It did throw me a loop at first, because it's definitely more than halfway on the old expected life years journey.

But it really is the point at which you become yourself, and don't have to give your all to raising children or forming a career, or working so hard on the husband/s.o. relationship. I've really begun to enjoy life from my own point of view more and more from 35-39; I hope it is a trend that continues.

Oh, and happy birthday!
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
30 was hard, 40 was a breeze, and I don't really remember 50 except that we got hardwood floors as my prezzie. Fear not!

I think us Baby Boomer women felt a resonance with the purple version as the expectation was the polar opposite and we said To Hell with That! Glad to have been of service. And I like my snazzy red hat although purple is a Very Bad Color for me.
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