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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

How old are you - and does every one know?

46 replies

wicketkeeper · 30/10/2011 14:30

I don't look my age at all, and am often taken for 10-15 years younger than I really am. Which I thought was great until a much younger woman pointed out that unless people admit to their real age, other people won't get a sensible view of what people that age are really like. So for example we have a stereotype of what a 50 year old woman is like - and that will never change unless the women who don't fit the stereotype actually tell people that they're 50.

Is this a feminist issue? I don't think men have as much of a hang-up about their age.

OP posts:
Pagwatch · 30/10/2011 14:32

I am 50 in about two weeks.
I've never lied about my age.

I don't know if it is a feminist issue but I believe that there are few groups in society more despised than ageing women.

Ragwort · 30/10/2011 14:34

Why is it so important to you that it is 'great' that you look younger than you are? Aren't you just conforming to the idea that it is 'better' to be young? I am 53, have no idea whether or not I 'fit the stereotype' of what a 50 year old woman is like but I am perfectly happy in my own skin Smile.

BeaOnSea · 30/10/2011 14:42

I'm 50 next year and have never lied about my age.

I wouldn't know about any stereotype for a 50 year old any more than I know what one is for someone in their 20s, 30s or 40s.

It bothers me more when people stereotype me for my gender. For example, assuming that, because I am a woman, I like cooking & shopping.

MillyR · 30/10/2011 14:59

Given the amount of trolling this section has received, it is perhaps unwise for people give out personal information like exact age on here.

DownbytheRiverside · 30/10/2011 15:06

Yes, I'm over 50 and admit to it when relevant. I've also (sit down ladies) got....grey hair!
For me it is a feminist issue to be comfortable in my own skin.

wicketkeeper · 30/10/2011 15:09

Yup, I do think it's great that I look younger than I really am. Very shallow I know.

But when I unpack that statement a little, that's when it gets interesting. I don't in fact look younger than I am - I look the way I look, and I am the age I am. I look younger than people in general expect a 50 year old woman to look. Which says more about their expectations than it does about my looks.

I've never lied about my age either. Not since I was 14 anyway...

Pagwatch has got it right about the feelings of society towards ageing women - so I guess I'm saying do we fight this by
a) denying that we are getting to that age or
b) telling our age loud and proud and forcing society to accept us as we are.

I think the whole raison d'etre of feminism is to challenge stereotypes - and if you challenge the stereotype that women like cooking and shopping you also have to challenge the stereotype of the middle-aged women. I think the gender stereotype and the age stereotype are inextricably linked.

OP posts:
rubyrubyruby · 30/10/2011 15:12

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hellymelly · 30/10/2011 15:20

I'm 47,I've never lied about my age.Well at least not since turning 18! Sometimes it annoys me that I then get judged by my age rather than just as myself but I don't see the point of a lie. I have moved from an area where late 30's-early 40's motherhood is very common to one where it is very uncommon but I still tell all and sundry my age.

wicketkeeper · 30/10/2011 15:35

Her point was that if women who don't look/act their age don't admit to their age then younger women get a skewed idea of what women that age look like/can achieve. Maybe most women who are 50 don't look 50 - but if we don't tell people we're 50 then no-one will know what women who are 50 really look like. For example if a cartoonist was to draw a picture of 'Mrs Smith aged 50' I doubt if they would include spiky red hair and skinny jeans.

Maybe I'm completely wrong and society doesn't give a toss. Or maybe I'm not explaining it very well. But I do think that in general a man's age is less of an issue than a woman's.

OP posts:
WreckOfTheBeautiful · 30/10/2011 15:36

I'm, well, closer to 30 than 20, but have been told I look much younger. When I started my current job I had people quite seriously express disbelief that I was old enough to even have the necessary qualifications. I find that looking young as a woman makes it even more likely that I get talked over and treated as though I don't have two brain cells to rub together, compared with my (female) peers who look more our age. You just can't win!

LaPruneDeMaTante · 30/10/2011 15:42

I suspect that nobody is really interested in my age.

I find it very hard talking to MIL about age-related things. She is mid-60s and actually fairly obsessed with a) never saying her age, and b) having people be 'surprised' by her age. I think she looks her age, objectively, (nothing wrong with this, she looks great) and fits firmly into the 'eccentric, linen-clad, busybusy older woman with mad hair' box. I once tried to say (in context) that I liked her clothes, and I hoped to wear things like that when I'm older. Oh dear, I put my foot right in it there. Grin At other times it's as if the mere mention of the generation gap between us is too close to saying she's a creaky old wifey. I don't think that but we were born nearly 30 years apart, it's bound to come up in passing!

HazleNutt · 30/10/2011 16:18

I'm 33 and I love that I don't look 23 any more. It's nice to be taken more seriously.

rosy71 · 30/10/2011 17:00

I don't see why being mistaken for someone younger means you're lying about your age. Confused It doesn't generally come up how old I am so I have no idea how old people think I am.

EllaDee · 30/10/2011 17:17

I'm 27, have never lied about it. I quite like being mistaken for older than I am because it's a right pain teaching people only a few years younger than you if you look young.

Apparently my students assume I'm in my mid-30s. But this is probably partly because I dress quite staidly when teaching! Grin

alexpolismum · 30/10/2011 17:28

I am mid-thirties. I don't dye my hair so have a lovely distinguished-looking grey streak. I once had someone say "you have a young face for your age" (she thought only people over 40 did not dye their hair, as apparently 40 is old!)

I never lie about my age, why would I?

moonshineandspellbooks · 30/10/2011 21:06

I think ageing is definitely a feminist issue. As pagwatch says, look at the derision with which older women are generally held. Think of the news women 'demoted' from prime time as they age, media celebrities castigated for looking older while men get referred to as 'silver fox'. etc.

I am fortunate that I have never set much store in my appearance, so I am quite willing to tell people my age and it has never occurred to me to lie about it (apart from when I was a teenager trying to get into clubs [hgrin]). I also have friends who vary in age from early 20s right up to their 70s, so I've never really taken much notice of other people's ages, either. There are so many much more important qualities to someone other than their age, though I will admit that I find the younger someone is the more defining their age becomes.

I've always viewed ageing as an incredibly positive experience. Sure you need to worry about your health, but you can have an influence over that to some extent. But all the benefits that come with getting older are wonderful - increased self-awareness, increased confidence, decreased emphasis on what others think, experience of human nature and greater ability to predict likely outcomes based on personalities and circumstances. Wisdom I guess it used to be called [hwink] (Not that I am claiming to be wise. For an intelligent person I am capable of legendary feats of stupidity Grin).

I was very infrequently praised for my appearance as a child. I was never made to feel ugly or anything, but it was my abilities that were always the focus and therefore I have come to define myself by my sense of who I am rather than what I look like. The funny thing is that I am quite happy with my appearance and am often complimented on it, but I thank my parents for raising me without that emphasis on looks. It has done me a huge favour and it is one I am trying to emulate with my DC, especially my DD who is growing up in a world that is more obsessed with female appearance and everlasting youth than ever before.

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows · 30/10/2011 21:10

I don't lie about my age. But I do fear getting older. Not because I worry about my looks, but because I can sense the gentle gradient beginning in the slide towards impending death

ComradeJing · 31/10/2011 00:54

I've been judged for my age frequently. From women in there mid to late 30s ive had lots of assumptions that I must be an idiot or a bimbo and have nothing worth saying. Sneering looks, ignoring, comments etc from women who now happen to be quite close friends. It was worse when my bf lived in Beijing too and we went to the local pub before heading out at night. She and I were often treated quite badly by the other women.

I've never hidden my age but think I would have had an easy time if I had.

TheRealTillyMinto · 31/10/2011 12:55

i have always liked my age. i want to look like i have looked after myself, in the sense of health, not 'beauty'.

LatherRinseRepeatAsNeeded · 31/10/2011 13:00

I'm 33, my age is often guessed as 5-10 years older than I am, but that's typically when discussing my age with people that work in my industry, I'm lucky to be very young in my field.

That said I was ID'd at the shop when buying wine about a year ago, so I don't know what age I look.

blonderedhead · 31/10/2011 14:05

I'm mid-30s and will confess to being pleased if people think I am younger. However I'll always correct them!

I work somewhere where I regularly have to guess whether people are over 60 (they get a discount if they are). Wrongly guess younger and run the risk of having to refund and redo the transaction, wrongly guess older and ruin someone's day. Sometimes you can offend people (male & female) simply by not asking for proof when they ask for a concession. It's a bloody minefield.

Of course it shouldn't matter. And older-woman-invisibility IS an issue. But wanting to look younger than your years is not just an issue of vanity; humans want to hold onto life and associate looking younger with the belief that death and decrepitude is a long way off.

Ormirian · 31/10/2011 14:08

I'm 46, and yes I suppose they do. I make no secret of the fact.


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Ephiny · 31/10/2011 14:09

I'm 30. I've never lied about my age, can't think of any reason why I would.

If you lie and say you're younger than you are, won't people just think you look old for your age? How is that a good thing?

Ephiny · 31/10/2011 14:15

I've found aging a generally positive experience as well moonshine. I might not have quite the figure I had at 19 (though it's not that bad, I don't think!) but I have massively more confidence, I'm happier, I'm more myself somehow. I know better what I want in life, what things are important and what isn't worth worrying about. Wisdom, yes. Not a word you often hear these days.

One of my friends (a little older than me) wrote 'Congratulations, with age comes wisdom!' in my birthday card, I thought that was lovely and a change from the usual comments you get, that make out turning 30 is a disaster or something to be mocked for!

kickingking · 31/10/2011 14:27

I'm in my early 30s, have always been mistaken for younger than I am.

I have lied about my age in the past because I hated people screeching 'twenty EIGHT!! You look about 19! I would never have thought you were that OLD!' It used to make me feel shit, like I not only looked young but was really immature as well.

I'm not sure what you mean though - don't most people say they are younger than they are? Surely then we'd think 50 looks older than real 50 year olds, as 55 year olds are saying they're 50.

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