Good morning. I want to share something with you that has been bothering me for a while. I don’t know if there is anything I can do about it, but raising awareness is in itself important.
I’ll start with a story. I was having dinner with a perpetual single friend of mine. He’s a great guy, let’s call him Brett (name changed for confidentiality but also because I don’t want to lose a friend!). Brett is in his late forties and looks great for his age (oh, and he knows it!)… anyway, he was as usual bemoaning the fact that there are no single women left in world. Well, what he means is…single women meeting his extremely specific requirements (under 40, with older kids, who want no more kids…..Brett has grown up kids….who has a good job…and of course she has to be drop dead gorgeous).
Now normally when my guy friends talk of the drop dead gorgeous requirement, I hand them a mirror. Enough said. But with Brett, he is a very handsome accomplished man so I didn’t want to harass him too much (still gave him a mirror anyway though….the guy needs to come down a peg or two..). I decided to intervene.
I was feeling in a generous mood so I suggested I introduce him to one of my friends who has been single for a few years. I told him how many kids she had (older). That she was a fascinating woman who had traveled the world, and was financially independent, a whole lot of fun….and yes drop dead gorgeous. He was on the edge of his chair taking in every word. Especially the drop dead gorgeous part.
All was well, I was going to play cupid….I could see it all…the perfect couple, their kids bonding, summers cottaging, nice dinners where i’m invited…sorry I digress… and it happened.
He asked me how old she was. As soon as I told him she was in her late forties, he was deflated. No longer on the edge of his chair, he was actually annoyed and somewhat insulted that I would think a woman that age (ie old) was a good match.
Now it was my turn to be insulted. I’m no supermodel, but as a woman in her late forties I certainly don’t see myself as ready for the rocking chair. So (without losing my cool) I asked him if he thought I was “old”….subtly reminding him of the times he’d tried to date me before we settled on platonic friendship…..and he said “but you’re an exception.!!”
Upon further digging, my preconceptions were right, in his mind all women over a certain age (40 in this case) were “old”. Anyone late 40s/early 50s he imagined with short curly hair in rollers and elasticated pants. His mind had relegated all these women to the “mom/grandmother” categories. While he was still the hero in his movies, women his age now had the supporting cast role of single unmarried (unmarriageable) sister/mother/grandmother or worse the cat woman who hasn’t left her house for 10yrs.
I didn’t want to drop it (he just wanted to go get drunk…but I made him talk…), I pointed out a few women in the restaurant and asked how old he thought they were. He pointed at a womam close to 65 (I am good at age estimation – part of my job!)…and said she was maybe 50! Then another one who was probably 60ish…and said she was maybe late 40s. And I know he thought he was being kind and underestimating their age as I was glaring at him waiting for him to slip up…!!
Then I pointed out a woman who was maybe 50, and he said “now that’s more like it…she’s maybe 38…”. Do you get where I am going with this? The media, the movies, the culture, everything around us has done a terrible job of portraying women in there 40’s and 50’s. As far as the world is concerned (and men), without actually looking at the evidence, the conclusion has been made that at this age we ready to be put out to pasture. We wear elasticated pants, have our hair in rollers, we don’t drink, don’t party, are certainly not gorgeous and forget sex…..we can’t even remember when we last had sex!
The movies are the worst….if there is a gorgeous woman over 40 (eg Jennifer Aniston, Meg Ryan etc)….they get to play 30 something year olds… And when they show a 50 year old mom of the bride….yuppers she’s got the white curly short hair and elasticated pants. God forbid should people see that women still have full fascinating lives in the 40’s and 50’s…and yes, they still have sex!
Somethings gotta change. Is it any wonder women lie on dating profiles when men (like Brett) probably filter out any woman over 40….and even if they do see a profile of a 48 year old on a weak moment they are convinced the photo is 15 yrs old and don’t want to waste their time. (happened to me..)
Some things are changing. what sex and the city did for 20/30 year old single career women with no kids…..the housewives shows (as much as I find the display of wealth and self obsession nauseating) has done for women in their 40’s/50’s . These women single, divorced, with or without children….are shown as being beautiful, vibrant, dynamic, well dressed….and yes, having sex!
Ladies, our time has come. The 50’s really is the new 30’s (to be honest, who wants to be 30 again). Finally by 50, we have it figured, most women are independent, know what they want, and are not going to care what anyone thinks. Single, married or anything in between….we are not our mothers and grandmothers. We are a force to be reckoned with. The world is going to have to take notice. We’re here and we are fabulous.