Who Looks at a Woman over 40?
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
Somebody Â gave Â me Â some Â bad Â information Â about women over 40. A lot of somebodies. Â Over the years. I donâ€™t blame them. Not Â really. They believed Â what they were telling me.
Growing up in a tiny Southern town that was timewarped by at least 25 years, I often heard that if you were a woman, youâ€™d better marry young because men stopped looking at you once you hit your mid-20â€™s. I Â didnâ€™t pay too much attention throughout my mid-to-late 20â€™s. After all, I got propositioned at least once on three out of every four business trips I took, and that was after I was married and flashing a diamond. The attention wasnâ€™t wanted, wasnâ€™t (I thought) warranted, and it grew tiresome, especially Â when Â some Â idiot lieutenant Â was Â calling Â my Â hotel room at 2 AM to wake me up to tell me his wife didnâ€™t understand him Â and my husband didnâ€™t deserve me. By the time I was 31, I had two little kids, and the attention slacked off…though in hindsight, it really didnâ€™t. I was just too sleep-deprived to notice.
Then something happened among most of the women I knew. They all told me how there would always be a younger woman to catch a manâ€™s attention and hey, I wasnâ€™t Â getting any younger. Â Comments like thatÂ would make me a little angry. Not because I disagreed that I was getting older but that it was so important Â to them that they had to try to spoil my day with these â€œnews flashesâ€ when I really didnâ€™t think it mattered. I was married and I wasnâ€™t trying to attract anyoneâ€™s attention except my husbandâ€™s, Â so Â I Â didnâ€™t Â really Â care Â what Â these embittered women had to say except that it was so…prickly.
Then women Â in their 40â€™sâ€”when Â I was still in my mid-30â€™sâ€”began to tell me how freeing it was to hit 40. They no longer had to worry about men noticing them. I heard this everywhereâ€”from my Â circle of closest Â friends, the women at work, women in my spiritual circle, women in Â my Â writersâ€™ Â groups, Â women Â in Â casual Â conversation. Everywhere. If they were in their 40â€™s, they wanted me not just to know Â but to understand and admit that my expiration date was approaching.
I will admit that being in my 40â€™s is indeed freeing, but it has nothing to do with what men think of me or donâ€™t and everything to do with really knowing who I am and not caring what anyone else thinks.
But geez, what a downer to be told constantly that my physical appeal Â was Â fast Â disappearing. Â And Â why Â were these women so downright gleeful about the prediction?
But if you hear it enough, after a while, you start to believe it. Then something happens that makes you stop and think.
Iâ€™m very open about my age. If someone Â asks, I tell. Itâ€™s Â no Â greatÂ secret Â and Â Iâ€™m Â not Â running Â around Â lying through my teeth when I meet someone new and I really do find it pathetic when women in their 40â€™s shave off a decade. I mean, I can look in the mirror and tell a difference in 10 years ago. Sometimes I like the way I look and sometimes, I go off in search of a paper bag to wear over my head. I figure thatâ€™s life, and Iâ€™ve had similar feelings as a teen, as a 20-something, in my 30â€™s…all for different reasons.
Maggie Shayne Â says Â that Â men Â donâ€™t Â know Â what Â 40 looks like. They wonâ€™t necessarily Â date a woman in her
40â€™s if they know her age officially. Iâ€™m not sure thatâ€™s true of all men but itâ€™s true of a lot of them, especially if they havenâ€™t met you.
Tonight, Iâ€™m thinking of a couple of amusements over the past two years when I openly gave my age and got a surprise response. One was from a 30-year-old man who thought I was about Â 33â€”far younger than his date that night. She was not happy. There was the guy at the resort in Daytona who couldnâ€™t have been a day over 30 but had I not started yawning (or had he been able to hold a conversation), I might have talked to him for the entire evening. I frequently Â run Â into Â men Â these Â days Â who Â donâ€™t think I look my age, so yes, I think Maggieâ€™s Â right that most men donâ€™t know what 40 looks like.
But hereâ€™s what it really looks like:
This Â is Â such Â a Â powerful Â time Â in Â my Â life. Â Iâ€™m Â old enough to know exactly what I want out of the rest of my life and to appreciate Â both Â unique Â differences Â and that rare compatibility. Iâ€™m also still young enough to launch a second career, a second family, a completely different second life within a lifetime. Iâ€™m in good enough health and secure enough to enjoy myself without apology but never toÂ be Â talked Â into Â something Â IÂ donâ€™t Â want Â to Â do. Â And unlike all those 20-somethings Â out there so Â pathetically eager to please a man, any man, I donâ€™t really care anymore if Iâ€™m still good in bed or not as long as Iâ€™m not the one whoâ€™s disappointed.
So there. Â Thatâ€™s Â what Â being Â 40 Â is Â all Â about Â for Â a woman. This Â woman, anyway. Not about kowtowing to men who havenâ€™t Â figuredÂ out Â who they are or what they want and feeling like I have compete for the limited natural resources of available penises. Nope. I think not.
But tonight, Iâ€™m looking back at all the guys who noticed meâ€”that I can think of in hindsightâ€”when Â I was well into the fabled Â â€œover the hillâ€ status. Itâ€™s not that men stopped looking when I got older.
Itâ€™s that Â I Â stopped Â recognizing Â that Â they Â were Â still looking.