WordPress tells me to “write my story” here. Okay, everything is a story…
I came in here, halfway between work, to rant about a book I just saw (released on) Simon & Schuster. It’s a collection of essays about turning 40. Doesn’t matter that I can’t recognize any of them (just because they are not famous doesn’t mean their lives don’t matter), but I did have that “Oh gosh, please don’t let this be by Roxane Gay, again,” moment (She seems to have a thing for collecting essays and turning it into her book).
So, is turning 40 for women such big of a deal that we need to be vocal about it? It’s like makeup, no? Cosmetics industry, they are brilliant in marketing – they create needs that aren’t there – by telling men and women that to look a certain way is the path to success?
Same thing with books like “Turning 40”, no? It’s like a freaking milestone we gotta acknowledge? That we gotta discuss, because women are getting ‘somewhere’ at 40, and are moving towards ‘another phase’ in life because ‘they are not in their 20s and 30s anymore’?
Why do we need to write these books and essays and validate each other just because we are turning 40? 50? 60? 70? You see men writing about these things when they are about to turn 40? I don’t know. I don’t. Do you, though? Show me. Tell me in the comments. Okay. I know. There are a couple. But how many have the other gender written and how many have our F gender written? Can somebody do the math and research for me? Guess there’s no need to?
In the 50s, America, women were already empowered, not all, some. Most. White women, make that. Still, there were gender imbalanced (or biased, whatever) commercials about women and washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, clorox, all that shizz – all over the place. How many books about “women at 40” were published in the 50s?
70s. Flower power. Drugs. Janis Joplin. Don’t think we needed to be reminded about turning 40. Heck, hippies FTW. Great era to be in your 20s (at least I wish I was born in the 50s (post-war, I know I’m selfish), so that I could be a hippy in the 60s right up to the 70s. Any “Oh F I’m turning 40” drama by women then? I don’t know. 40-something mothers were too busy trying to save their kids from cults and probably getting high in the basement themselves.
I think the whole “Oh F I’m turning 40 drama” is particularly strong with Asian women. It could be a whole other discourse, culture and everything else (“an old maid if you’re not married by 22 and not a mother by 24”). But I do have many friends who dread turning 40. I always wonder within (now, out loud in here), how were they being raised? How exposed are they? What made them think that life for women gets trashed the minute they turn 40? So what if your husband goes out and finds a younger woman and divorces you? Is it always entirely your fault for aging? Seriously, all you women?
You think you start getting wrinkles when you’re 40? Asians, SMH. You think wrinkles will make you less confident? Asians, SMH. You believe you need men to validate your existence through your beauty and age, as a 40-ish woman? You think you’d be less appealing to everyone when you age? Really? What’s in your head? Besides, clearly, the absence of knowledge, wisdom, and openness?
None of my aunts, let alone my mama, were anywhere close to being concerned about ‘fighting aging’ or worried about turning 40 – as far as I know. My mama, my late mama – she’s exceptional. Her entire life was about humility and relationships – Her family, keeping her own income coming in while my dad worked his government job and gets transferred around the country; raising three kids, whom later scattered around three continents. My mama was concerned, primarily, about building loving, lasting relationships, as she aged. Spending more time with her own mama, her siblings, her children, church, friends from all walks of life. She ain’t go no time to count her years leading up to 40 – Oh, I’m turning 40, oh no; or Oh, I’m 50, gotta celebrate and feel young; No – None of that.
I’m 37, and I don’t feel no shit about my age. Did reading help? Yes, a lot. I’m not talking about sitting down with a book and BAM! I don’t GAF about my age. No. It’s about understanding how life evolves and that how small you are, that your concerns about your well-being really shouldn’t be wasted on “F I’m turning 40, what should I be thinking, doing, planning, achieving”.
Shed the “I’m turning 40” BS. Who GAF about your turning 40? Your mama? Your co-workers? Your children? Your ex-boyfriends? Your superficial friends with expensive handbags and lifestyles to mask their insecurities?
Women, please don’t bother with feminism – it’s poison. Don’t bother with aging. Do bother with equal rights. Or equality, in general, for all mankind. Not about gender, not about color. But mankind. We all turn 40. Some of us don’t even live past 40. Asians, white, black, we all turn 40, and the earth doesn’t GAF about it.
So please, no more books about turning 40. Unless you have a valid scientific thing going on that proves women turning 40 is a fucking disaster to mankind, otherwise, please, let’s not box ourselves (others) in by writing books like that.
It’s not about turning 40.
It’s about the things you do as women, as humans, in the face of the current, cruel, imbalanced, oppressed, unjust, world.
p.s. this post will not be vetted for clarity, typos, or other BS. this post will be published as is.
ETA: Okay, I read what I wrote and clearly while I was ranting I had forgotten about the most important ‘part’ of this rant. Here comes the additional BS:
“Life begins at 40”. Seriously, women?!! Stop saying that to one another! You don’t have to use this agist theory to empower other women! If you’re a mother, tell your daughter to keep her head up high, even if she’s oppressed (keep the flame burning somewhere, don’t give up) and never stop learning! That’s all you need to do. There’s no need to hint that she’s gonna be on top of the world or ‘at her best’ when she’s in her 20s and 30s. There’s no need to hint that “you gotta work harder because in the corporate world, when you’re 40, the younger ones are gonna F you over.” Really?
Life does NOT begin at 40. Stop the 40 mania. Stop these books. Why put a mark on a human being’s age? So is there an absolute point in life where you’re supposed to do this and that at a certain age? Oh, you gotta graduate college by 23, oh, you gotta be CEO at 35 now, otherwise you gonna lose the game.
F, all of that. Please. Everyone lives differently, in different countries, different political climates, different everything. Same goes to women and the whole 40 thing.
There’s no need, for women to explain to women, about ‘what’s it like to turn 40’. Why not we explain what’s it like to have our vaginas cut at 7? What’s it like to be married off at 10? What’s it like to be oppressed at home because we’re not allowed to work? What’s it like to give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day? What’s it like to shut up when your husband beats the crap out of you or your children? What’s it like to not be able to go to school because you’re born female? What’s it like to be raped at the streets no matter how old you are?
Women, empower ourselves with stories, life stories, knowledge, compassion. Don’t go talking about ‘turning 40’ was ‘how big for me’ or ‘how it changed my life’ or ‘how turning 40 made me realize I’ve got so much wisdom and potential I should start a kitchen business’.
F all of that. You can do all those without having to barricade yourselves around your stupid mentality about where you’re at in life ‘according to how old you are’.
I’ve decided to include the book that set this post/rant off. It’s only fair to myself. It’s not fair to the author and contributors, but what do I know. I’m not yet 40, right?
The book is called “On Being 40(ish)” by Lindsey Mead.
Here’s the “About the Book”:
“Like a pep talk from your big sister, favorite cousin and wise best friend. These 15 smart, funny women expertly capture what it’s like to get older… A must read for anyone 40ish or beyond.” —Joanna Goddard, Cup of Jo
Fifteen powerful women and writers you know and love—from the pages of the New Yorker, New York Times, Vogue, Glamour, and The Atlantic—offer captivating, intimate, and candid explorations about what it’s really like turning forty—and that the best is yet to come.
The big 4-0. Like eighteen and twenty-one, this is a major and meaningful milestone our lives—especially for women. Turning forty is a poignant doorway between youth and…what comes after; a crossroads to reflect on the roads taken and not, and the paths yet before you. The decade that follows is ripe for nostalgia, inspiration, wisdom, and personal growth.
In this dazzling collection, fifteen writers explore this rich phase in essays that are profound, moving and above all, brimming with joie de vivre. With a diverse array of voices—including Veronica Chambers, Meghan Daum, Kate Bolick, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Sloane Crosley, KJ Dell’Antonia, Julie Klam, Jessica Lahey, Catherine Newman, Sujean Rim, Jena Schwartz, Sophfronia Scott, Allison Winn Scotch, Lee Woodruff, and Jill Kargman—On Being 40(ish) offers deeply personal, often hilarious perspectives across a range of universal themes—friendship, independence, sex, beauty, aging, wisdom, and the passage of time.
Beautifully designed to make the perfect gift, and to be a treasure to turn to time and time again, On Being 40(ish) reflects the hopes, fears, challenges and opportunities of a generation.
End of Rant. But these rants will only be over if this is the last book ever written about “women turning 40”.