Thursday, 12 January 2017

40 YEARS AFTER


I don't know who came up with the social etiquette of never asking a woman how old she is. I can imagine that it's a woman who had to have a convenient excuse to escape the uncomfortable rounding off to the nearest 10 when asked to reveal her age--not her PR age, nor her party-conversation age, but her real age. It's indeed a more witty comeback to the nosy than to ask them to guess and then come up with a number that leaves a woman holding grudges. 


For all the byword about age being just a number, there are lots of women who can't or won't even say what that number is.



My friend and I, in one of those random conversations we have, touched on the subject of why us women closely guard our age as if it's our PIN. Perhaps it holds part of some women's enigma. Some definitely don't want to give away what their pricey Botox sessions are covering up for them. Past the mystery and intrusion into women's cosmetic procedures, age reveals so much other than the wisps of grey hair that keep cropping up despite religious visits to the colourist, crow's feet and expression lines that no amount of collagen fillers can conceal, and the viability of one's eggs. It narrates our personal history, life events we skipped either by choice or by circumstances, stages we never went through, repeated, struggled at, failed at--all dictated by social guidelines that attempt to box in women into one-size-fits-all labels. Women are not forthcoming about their age because attached with certain numbers are expectations and perceptions based on what other women have done and achieved at the same period in their lives. Yes, it's a beauty contest of some sort, and whether we like it or not, we're all in it.


From age to vital statistics, we feel a bit anxious to share these information especially when the numbers associated with a woman's body are almost always scrutinised by others--and worse, by us.



Earlier this week I went to my local surgery to register. I deliberately 'overlooked' one of the questions in the form. The receptionist noticed it of course, and asked me. I pretended to be distracted. "Can you please tell us what your weight is?", she repeated. I muttered the figure and unit of measurement under my breath. I said I was avoiding that. We both chuckled.




The non-obligatory 40th birthday pose in a Biba swimwear




You see, when I gained weight from a size 6 (US size 2) to a size 12 (US size 8) after being ill,  I stopped stepping on the scale. I only ever really thought about it when I recently filled out a form for life insurance purposes.  And then of course the trip down my local surgery. I thought it's probably how some women feel past a certain age (or certain weight): it will only bother you if you allow it to. 




The last decade has been my weaning years from the comfort, security, familiarity, ignorance, and innocence of my 20s. Very personal experiences in my 30s made me shed my most mournful tears, and equally gave me so much reasons for the heartiest laugh. Those were the trial-and-error years. A few social labels have been discarded along the way. I made up my mind that I can't have all that I think I deserve. I have outgrown conformity, guilty feelings about being reclusive, been experiencing life at my own pace, been keeping the relevant and leaving anything or anyone that weighs me down. I think it's called growing up. 



I turn 40 today. Don't ask me how it feels because I just barely walked into it. Some say life begins at 40. Allow me to spend the first day with a much needed massage (Salonpas doesn't cut it), and I'll take it from there.

























2 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday wishes to you!! You look beautiful, love the swimsuit!! I never know why women don't like saying their age or weight, these things aren't important. But, I know society has made us fear or be annoyed by them as we are scrutinised by them. I hope you enjoy every age you turn :) xx

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Doll! Thank you always for all your lovely messages xxx

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