Age is not your enemy

Milestone birthdays are worth celebrating, writes Beth Cooper-Howell

Age is just a number
Age is just a number
Image: Pixabay

I’m not sure why, but most of my mates are younger than me. A few are pensioners, but generally, the motley tribes to which I belong have been celebrating 40th birthdays en masse over the past year or two.

For many of them, it’s a bothersome business; they liked being thirty-something. But thankfully, I tell them, they have me – and being me at nearly 40 was a victorious turning point in my attitude to ageing. I wasn’t in the least bit panicky about hitting the last year of a good decade. It had been a solid, sexy, successful ride.

I learned that eyebrow-plucking works, I wrote a book and once – just once – I was thin enough to wear a li’l black number without support panties. So why the hell join sisters on the brink of forty-hood in their despair at leaving youth behind?

Turning 30, 40, or 50 shouldn’t count, even if social media says that it should. I’ve never bought the age angst exploding about like so much popcorn.

What I tell people who worry about it, is this: a thousand years ago, at my age, I’d be dead. And so would my husband, and probably almost all of my children and their children’s children, since, by now, I’d be a great-grandmother, wouldn’t I?

Honestly, gorgeous gals. We don’t know how good we have it. They’ve done the studies to show it – 30 is the new 20, 40 is the new 30 (or, in Pamela Anderson’s case, the new 20) and 50 is a pleasure cruise.

Milestone birthdays were probably celebrated because you were damned lucky to wake up on the morning of your 21st, somewhere in Antarctica, thankful to have avoided bears and marauding men.

And as time went on and women were forced to give birth on their backs, you were doubtless in seventh heaven to have survived both your marriage and the male-dominated medical system at all – a damn good reason to host afternoon tea on your 30th.

That’s the difference between back then and right now. We’re not convinced that age is just a number – we commiserate with ourselves as each birthday passes, instead of using the date as a good excuse to Better Ourselves. Take Eleanor Chin. She was terrified of heights and water and so, on her 40th birthday, took her friends and family parasailing.

It’s your party, so cry if you want to. But my advice? Forget facing 40. Face your fears instead.