I’m turning 43 next week. What a delight, truly. To be alive on any fleeting day is a miracle.
It is a feminist act to embrace our age, to say it aloud. Age is the ultimate assertion of experience.
No matter who we have been, what we have become, where we have succeeded and failed, our age holds it all. It is amazing how we change so much and yet retain pieces of who we have always been.
I resent assertions and implications that women should not age. I’ve been training my whole life to be an eccentric old lady. Hell, my favorite show in elementary school was Murder She Wrote.
I’m old enough to have seen several peers die or sustain ongoing battles with any number of life-threatening conditions: cancer, abusive partners, mental health. As for me, it’s more against the odds than a really good Phil Collins song that I didn’t drop dead of anorexia at 17, 18, or 19, so hey, am I proud to be turning 43? You bet!
Aging is a privilege. It is a tragedy when people don’t get the opportunity to age. Often these tragedies are predictably related to systemic racial inequality, including wealth gaps, unequal access to health care, and the literal stress of racism, with people of color having lower life expectancies.
It is another type of sadness when people hate themselves for getting older. This seems to happen far more often with women, who have been soaked in messages since birth conflating our appearance and worth. A woman who embraces her age is a special threat to that order — in asserting our experience on the planet in the form of wisdom gained, we are disrupting systems that reward young women for being arm candy and demand obsolescence from older women.
The gray hairs are coming, here on my head. It’s all good. I’ve earned them.