I just turned 30 in August, and I was excited to hit the big milestone. I was excited because I spent most of my 20s being neurotic, insecure and unsure of what I should be doing with my life. As I approached my late 20s, I began to feel a confidence I never previously felt. I loved having that new outlook. Hell, if that was what it's like to approach 30, then sign me up for the big 3-0.
Except I started to notice things along the road to 30.
When I celebrated my 29th birthday, I received a cake that said "29 Forever" on it. I thought it was funny, and anyone who gives me a cake is solid in my book. Back then, I really didn't think much of it. But when my days as a 29-year-old woman were numbered, I noticed an uncomfortable trend.
The thing about being a woman who's turning 30 is that she's not supposed to embrace it. Like the "29 Forever" cake, our society has this unwritten rule that women should be terrified of getting older. The joke that a women is celebrating "the anniversary of my 29th birthday" is said so often, we don't realize how damaging it is.
While many people think they're making cute jokes, there is a bigger issue behind those jokes. By 2015, the anti-aging industry is expected to reach $114 billion. Let's think about the target audience for the industry: Women. Additionally, 94 percent of the people who get Botox injections, the most popular cosmetic treatment in the U.S., are women. The rates are growing, too. In 2013, teens 18 years and younger got 1,149 procedures. Yikes. To make the aging process even more complicated, a study in 2011 shows that women who get Botox are viewed as vain and cold. We just can't win.
Despite all this, I had a lot of great plans in store for my birthday and good people who were just as excited as me to celebrate. My best friend ordered me a pizza feast for lunch at my work, another friend made me my own Lindsay Barbie, I spent a day at the beach and I did karaoke with a group of people I love. It was perfect.
Actually, almost perfect. While I was giddy with friends, fun and carbs, I heard some comments that made me stop and think, "Huh? Why do people think it's OK to say these things?" They were backhanded compliments that seemed like people were trying to make me feel bad about my birthday.
1. "Nobody is supposed to be excited to be turning 30."
Really? Well then, call me "Nobody" please, because I'm pretty excited.
2. "Don't you know women aren't supposed to age past 30?"
OK, sexist much? How come men get to age, trade in their wives for 'newer models' and always have a love interest at least 10 years younger in films? If that were a woman, she'd be called a cougar. Yet with men, they get to date younger and nobody bats an eye. Can we please stop with the double standard?
3. "You're turning 30? Are you upset about it?"
Wait. What? Why would I be upset about it? Birthdays are supposed to be fun, indulgent and all about me. Don't rain on my parade.
4. "You're SO old!"
No, 90 is SO old.
5. "Watch out. Your metabolism will start to slow down now."
I'm a runner. I think I'm going to be OK.
6. "You're not 30, you're 29." (Said with a wink.)
OK, don't get me wrong. 29 was a great year. I loved it. But I have a good feeling there are going to be other years I love, too.
7. "You're 30!? You don't look that old!"
That's not really a compliment.
8. "Is your biological clock ticking?"
9. "Now you have to start lying about your age."
No. I don't. Ever. Because of sh*t like this, I will never lie about my age, because if I do, then I let you and society win. And I refuse to let you win.
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