I turned 40 two years ago, and it’s been a breeze. I guess it can be, if you are at peace with yourself and if, as it happens to be the case for this not-so-young-anymore lady, you are blessed with good genes. It’s nothing that I am be proud of, nothing that I can claim as an achievement or that would make me any better than any other person, but it’s a fact. My grandmother only went grey around the age of 70, and my own mother didn’t sport a single grey hair at the age of almost 60. The women in my family always looked a good ten years younger than their age, no one had to fight off severe allergies, immobilising diseases or other serious illnesses. In that sense, I consider myself very lucky.
From an early age, I have always moved a lot. Dancing, athletics, more dancing, yoga, pilates… not moving makes me feel physically ill. My body starts aching if I don’t exercise at least twice a week. It’s a healthy habit that I am trying to instil into my own children. Find something you like and then stick to it, like you’d brush your teeth or take a shower.
Healthy eating comes easily to me, too. Fried foods and ready meals don’t tempt me. I grew up on home cooked food – lots of fresh veg and fruit, some meat, fish or poultry and the occasional treat being thrown in. My battle with an eating disorder more than 20 years ago had other reasons than an actual problem with food. If anything, getting treatment has taught me how to love my body just the way it is.
So. All of the above made turning 40 easy. However. Turning 42 has been a bit more of a hurdle.
For the first time ever, I noticed signs of ageing. I am sure they have been there before, but not in this culmination of sorts. I am saying ‘of sorts’, as I am sure that this is just the beginning rather than the end of it… It’s small things: applying highlighter under your eyes only to highlight the San Andreas fault canyons that adorn your face but not covering any of the ever present shadows, trying your hand at eyeliner only to push the lid ever so gently with the brush so that half of your eyelid ends up in a crumpled pile in one corner of your eye, gingerly dapping tinted lipgloss onto your lips only to see it bleed into the rest of your face…
I have never been big on makeup, but occasionally I would enjoy treating my face like a blank canvas that could be turned into something slightly different with a single brush stroke. These days it’s more like trying to draw on a crinkled sheet of linen with a crayon.
And don’t even get me started on how much exercise you’ll have to put in to maintain the status quo rather than seeing actual results.
The biggest shock though is walking past a shop widow and catching a reflection of yourself. The person who looks in is happy, has slept and eaten well. The person who looks back looks tired and washed out – despite feeling perfectly perky when she left the house that morning.
Maybe this is the most confusing part about ageing: I have never been happier in my own skin, more confident or energetic (as my 9yo daughter might read this, I am going to leave out the bit about sexual peaks in a woman’s life), however, my external shell seems to be hell-bent on defying this inner bloom.
I can’t help but wonder (little Carrie Bradshaw moment here), how do women feel at 60? If the current trend goes on, I’ll be all inner goddess. Sassy, happy confident on the inside. With a distinct raisin look on the outside.