As a woman, you drift through life (well, maybe not ‘drift’, ’cause let’s face it, this shiz is hard), you run up against every day challenges and you battle them head on, because you’re a badass. We deal with sexism, be it outright or that niggly, under-the-surface, casual, uncomfortable sexism. We deal with harassment. We deal with trying to be everything to everybody. But these things we become adept at dealing with. We obviously don’t like it, but we develop systems to cope. But then, as the birthdays tick off, you encounter a new frontier of hassle and discrimination: ageism. For women, it’s real and it starts earlier than you’d think.
I’m 32. An intelligent, good looking, active, stylish, well traveled 32 (yeah, I’m blowing my own trumpet there – it’s my blog, deal with it). Last week, I was taken out of the running for something blog-related as I was considered too old. They wanted someone younger, fresher. Excuse me while I nurse this punch to the gut. I’m too old – at THIRTY TWO. I won’t list the reasons I’m actually more than capable and an ideal candidate for this specific thing I was turned down for, ’cause at this point, it’s futile but it was a definitely wake up call for me.
It left me feeling that as women, we have a finite amount of time to make an impact that anyone considers valuable.
I laugh when I see girls on Twitter with their ‘OMG! I’m gonna be 24 tomorrow. I’M SO OLD!!!’ tweets. Shut up. Seriously. Trust me when I tell you, you don’t know how good you’ve got it. You don’t need to worry about being old for at least another three years. Around 27/28, that’s when your star starts to dwindle. So live it up now ladies, ’cause apparently, when you hit 32, you are all the way over the hill.
I loathe how there is an expiration date put on us as women. Sure, I get that there’s plenty of historical and anthropological reasoning behind this – our fertility being a huge factor, naturally. Our value as women lay in our ability to reproduce, which historically has always been better when we’re young and nubile – hence, our youth being so prized. But women are now fertile well into our 40s in some cases. But can we just take our wombs out of it for a second and recognise that we have worth beyond churning out babies? That we actually contribute much more to the world at this point?
What scares me is that as my birthdays tick off, I am more acutely aware of how women just disappear. Everything becomes about anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle creams – because those things are bad and unnatural. They shouldn’t happen and we should prevent them at all costs. My mother will be 66 next month and I don’t consider her ‘old’ at all. Obviously, as I get older myself, my perception changes.
But we can’t just be willing to accept that as women, we simply fade away from society once we get our first grey hair. The fact that women are routinely pushed out of things once they reach a certain age is an issue for all of us. We will all reach that point some day and it comes much sooner than you think. We should be outraged by it and kicking up all of the fuss. We have even more worth and value as we age. It’s time all of that wasn’t solely tied up in our looks.
So how about we be the change we want to see. Keep pushing, keep showing up, don’t bow out or give in. We should be seen, we should still be able to work, even with grey hair or wrinkles – even if you’re 32 and have neither of those things yet. We need to take a stand womenz – the time is now.