“40 is good,” said my male friend, and my eyes lit up. I knew exactly what he meant. He was talking about how much more confident he is now that he’s in his forties. Sure, the endless energy of his twenties is gone, but so are the arrogance and the naivete. At forty plus, he is calmer, more at peace with himself. He is a lot less self-centered and knows how important friendship and kindness are. He doesn’t lack passion – his passion and drive are as strong as always – but he has more perspective, and can put things in context.
The forties and fifties are, for many, amazing decades. You’re in the middle – you still enjoy energy and health, but you also have wisdom. You get it. You know yourself, you know what you want. Your roots are deeper. You’re confident, and you’re less and less worried about what others think about you.
But women, at least in the media, are denied the pleasures that this age brings and are bombarded with messages that essentially turn “over forty” into some kind of a disease, a condition that one must treat. Instead of being allowed to bask in the glory of our experience, wisdom and growing self-confidence, popular media, including ads and women’s magazines, convey a very clear message: women must remain in their thirties (or better yet, in their twenties if they can possibly manage it) forever.
Admittedly, unlike men, women do face a unique challenge as they grow older – diminishing fertility means we gradually lose our sexual appeal. So, while a man can be very attractive to women even with a few wrinkles and graying hair, evolution dictates that men look at these same signs in a woman as warning signs: “Infertility alert! Move on to the next candidate.”
Having said that, people are complex. Choosing a suitable partner is about so much more than taught skin and working ovaries. I personally know several women who have met wonderful partners when they were in their forties, fifties and sixties. These women are smart, independent, confident – and sexy. None of them uses Botox and while they work hard to stay fit and healthy and take good care of themselves, they certainly don’t try to look “ten years younger” than their chronological age.
But it takes a lot of confidence – a lot of character – to resist the powerful messages by the media. The constant, unrelenting messages that tell us to freeze our face with Botox, to pull our skin taught with plastic surgery, and – of course – to never forget our hands! God forbid we go through all this trouble of disguising our real age only to allow our veiny hands to disclose it.
We are made to focus so much on what we’re losing (youth, glowing skin, perky breasts) that we sometimes forget that as we lose our youth, we gain so much in terms of the person we are, our confidence, and our knowledge of the world.
Personally, at the age of 39 (40 in June), I consider myself a much more attractive person than I was 20 years ago. I certainly have more fun and enjoy life more. As far as I’m concerned, 40 is good. Very good. I like who I am, who I am becoming, and I fully intend to enjoy this very rewarding time in my life.