How old are you? Are you over 30? That’s too bad because now your life is OVER! Well, according to the worst of the worst, it is. Here’s Henry Cavill to make you feel better…
I’m going to be honest, for various reasons, I hate my 20s. I loved my 30s because so many amazing things finally came together. The truth is that it’s my 40s are my best years. This is the healthiest I’ve been since, maybe, before high school. My career is both on track and I feel like I could give it all up if changes happen. After years of struggling to make friends, which is always hard as an adult, I’ve found a group of people who I enjoy and share many of my values. I’m creatively engaged in writing and learning new skills. I can afford to travel when I want. In spite of a few lows when I burn out or my vitamin D is off, I’m really happy. I’ve learned how I need to move through the tough times.
Those three other sins (weight, marriage, and babies) are nothing compared to the one that holds them all together: ageism. There is an idea that once you hit thirty, you’re too old for everything: love, marriage, and babies. You are unwanted by men and will never get those other things. Even if the main character isn’t obsessed with her age, there is someone in the book who is and is constantly reminding her that she needs to make desperate decisions to avoid losing her chance at all of this.
As much as I love Unleashing Mr. Darcy (book and movie), there was one minor character who was like this. To be honest, I think the reason I like Pride & Prejudice modernizations is that Elizabeth Bennet was a woman ahead of her time. Hell, she’s a woman ahead of my time. She’s not worried about any of these things. If you were to write a version of her that is obsessed with any of these four sins, then you’ve misinterpreted her completely. Even Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with the life she has and isn’t worrying about her own future marriage potential. Anne Elliot, who once had love, hasn’t given up on it, but she isn’t looking for it. Her’s is more punishment than I care to admit.
I get it, women’s bodies only produce viable eggs for so long. You know what, here’s another gif of Henry Cavill to keep me from getting angry:
I’ve noticed that the 30th birthday seems to be the magical number, especially in chick lit. It’s the age of most narrators/main characters. The stories about older women deal with divorce and betrayal. One of the things I loved about Eligible, as a P&P modernization, is that the characters were in their mid to late thirties.
I get how thirty feels like a magic number. This is the right age for all the bravado of our twenties to shift with a crisis or major change in our lives. I know people who had major quarter-life-crisis years. Hell, even I did! It just started at eighteen. The point is that it’s a shift in our lives, not the beginning of the end. Women are having children later and later in their lives. People adopt children when they’re older. You can find love at any time in your life until you die.
I have no problem with characters at this age. The problem is the authors who continue the mythology that this is their last chance at love, marriage, and babies.
Here, have another Henry Cavill…
In the comments, give me a book about a woman who finds love in her 40s and 50s. Not a “just divorced” story, just one when she happens to be in her 40s or 50s and hasn’t accepted that her life is over because she’s old.