Forty is the new thirty. Fifty is the new forty. Twenty one is the new eighteen. In fact, my hormones are skyrocketing to adolescent levels even as I type.
It’s the new math. And Lord knows, I’ve never been much good at math. Funny. I’m not much good at getting younger as I age, either.
This new math is everywhere. It also applies to clothing: What used to be called a size ten is now called a size eight. (Though at Old Navy, they call it a size six. God bless vanity sizing.) In this economy, it also applies to shopping: what used to cost $30 now is a 50%-off fifteen bucks.
Everything that can have a numerical value associated with it seems to have gone down. Except, of course, the size a woman is “supposed to be.”
Seems to me that the only value moving backwards the “optimum” size for a woman, as portrayed by TV, magazines, movies, and runway shows. Because according to them, size six is the new size twelve. In other words:if you’re wearing a size six, you’re big. Excuse me? I mean, I’m pretty pleased when I’m in my vanity size 8’s, thank you very much.
Maybe it does make sense. After all, if we’re all getting younger, shouldn’t we all be getting thinner too? Shouldn’t we all be careening towards pre-pubescent hips, flawless skin, and the ability to be out in the freezing cold without a jacket? I don’t know about you, but I’m not “youngening.” I’ve said it before and I”ll say it again: if forty really is the new thirty, somebody forgot to tell my thighs. And my knees, and my eyesight. I’m not getting thinner and tauter any more than I’m getting younger and more interested in The Jonas Brothers. My brain may say thirty, but my ovaries say “I don’t think so.”
Why, I want to know, is it always women who suffer? There are precious few men out there starving themselves for their looks. There’s no iconic big-membered, blond-haired, pec enhanced, tip-toe-standing male doll with a seven figure job out there giving young boys a terrifying standard to which they can never match up. No, it’s only women who are supposed to be perpetually young, perpetually fertile, perpetually capable of making even the most unflattering fashions look fashionable. (Hello out there in fashionista land, there’s a reason leggings and a big belt look came and went so quickly twenty years ago!)
And while we’re on the subject of fashion: what’s up with the summer dresses? Are they made only for women with no breasts? Or maybe just fake ones. Cause I’ll tell you right now, forty plus years and two kids down the line means I’m not going bra-less in one of those itty bitty sundresses. And when you’ve seen the C-cup pass you by, those built-in shelf bras are about as useless as an electric toothbrush is to the d-listers on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.” Do not big breasted women get hot in the summer? Do we not deserve a cute sundress that can be worn with a bra?!?!?
I find itall very stressful. Especially the fact that I’m supposed to “be” thirty. I’m not thirty. I’m not even forty anymore. I’m forty something. Does that mean that I need to stop working out, start wearing sensible shoes, and swap my latte for a glug of Geritol? (Do they even make Geritol anymore?) Of course not. I’m not above zapping my vericose veins, slathering myself with Retin-A, and paying a heart-stopping fortune to color my hair. I want to look my best. But I don’t think that my best can be the same as a thirty-year old woman’s best. I don’t think The New Math should make me feel that it should be. That I am somehow a failure if I’m not in better shape now than I was ten years ago.
Ten years ago I was a thirty-something, newly married, childless woman with a big time television career and a closet full of heels. Now, I’m a forty-something, long-married, stay-at-home mom with two kids, a mortgage, and a bunion on my left big toe. Times change.
Something else has changed too. I used to think I was bad at math. Now, I think I’ve got it down. Forty is forty. Thirty is thirty. And there’s nothing wrong with looking, acting or feeling your age — whatever that may mean to you. As for the vanity sizing. Well, that one, I think I’ll live with.