It’s a conversation I’ve had with women from time to time; a lofty discussion about our age, and looks, and how others perceive us.
“Everyone thinks I’m 24,” states one woman haughtily, who has been blessed with a smooth, line-free face. “I was carded the other day – again,” proclaims another, tossing her long, thick locks behind her shoulder. “I only get hit on by teenagers!” laughs yet another, shrugging her shoulders in a gesture of false modesty. “It’s not my fault they think I’m so young.”
The truth is, we’re all well into our thirties. (Maybe forties, for some.) And as non-smoking, health-focused and fashionable women, it’s only natural that we enjoy a youthful appearance; one that veils our true year of birth. And let’s be honest – unless you’re 14 years old and trying to sneak into a bar, no woman wants to look older than she is. So, we continue to live our lives, having conversations like this, immersed in a culture that assures us we should strive to look younger than our age, and pat ourselves on the back when we do.
Lately, this notion has started to offend me.
After much thought, I’ve decided that I want to look 36-years old, and not a day younger. Certainly not a day older; but not for the reasons you may assume (we’ll discuss that later). I want to look 36-years old because I have earned every year that I have lived. I place value on every achievement, every obstacle, every win, every defeat. For if someone says, “Lena! I thought you were 24 years old….” well, let’s see. At 24, I may have had a university degree, but I didn’t have my corporate career, my marriage, my children, or my own business. And so the value – the level of respect, admiration, esteem or regard – I would appear to have is akin to another 24-year old, or a 24-year old me. And that’s not who I am. To say I look 2, 5 or even 10 years younger actually belittles every single accomplishment; every single stride I’ve made towards a better me.
In truth, I’m too good to look like a younger woman. I’m too smart, too motivated, too successful – and I want the respect that comes with those attributes. A twenty-something Lena spent her nights in bars. I spend my nights with my family. Or in a 5-star hotel. Or being awesome.
So you know what? Please don’t be tempted to tell me that I look younger than I am. Because 10 out of 10 times, I’d rather be called a “stunning woman” by an older gentleman than a “hot chick” by some young punk.
As for why I don’t want to look a day older? Simple. I haven’t earned it yet.