Age: Is it all in the mind?

Home Away from Home with Abi Adeboyejo

Email: Twitter: @abihafh

Abi AdeboyejoAm I the only one or do other people feel like their age is nothing but a number? I know this is an overused cliché but I find that it is so true for me. I find that I can still remember the aspirations I had when I was 11 years old. I can still remember how I pictured myself at the age of 40. Now that I have finally turned 40 I don’t feel any different inside. Sometimes I still look at the world. But if we feel like our young selves inside, why do women hide their age so much?

There are many jokes about women trying to keep their real ages secret. “Birthdays are anniversaries on which her husband takes a day off, and she takes a year off”. Another says “The lady is very loyal. Years ago she reached an age she liked and she has stuck to it”! I read an article recently where the writer accused men of laying too much emphasis on a woman’s age, thus making women feel that they have to remain young. I guess that is true to an extent. We all know of a man who has run off with a younger woman and that in itself is enough pressure to always pretend to be 25.

It does become ridiculous though when a lady has wrinkles all over and still wants to pretend she is younger. It is cringe-worthy seeing an older woman in clothes meant for a teenager or women doing all sorts of procedures to themselves to look younger. Shouldn’t age be embraced and celebrated? I think that women must begin to remove themselves from the mindset that being older is not attractive. If a person feels unattractive, they will not feel sexy and surely they will not look attractive or sexy in any way. Age should be kept where it belongs: in the mind!

My friend recently went to spend a weekend in London with her aunt, her mother’s older sister. After chatting with her all evening, she promised to help her aunt re-arrange her wardrobe the next day. This was an excellent way of getting pass-downs and cast offs from her aunt’s overflowing wardrobe. She had particularly targeted a pair of shoes with matching bag that one of her aunt’s children had bought for her but which her aunt refused to wear because she said it was too glitzy.

So she woke early the following morning expecting to find her aunt in the kitchen as usual. Assuming she had gone to the bathroom, she went back upstairs and as she passed her aunt’s room, she heard her aunt’s voice call her. She knocked and went in gingerly, only to see her aunt under the covers with her uncle and it didn’t seem like either of them had any clothes on. If you are wondering why she found this so shocking, her aunt was 73 and her uncle was 75.

My friend called me as soon as she left her aunt’s that evening, expressing her shock and disgust that they were still getting it on at their ages. At first I agreed with her. But later on, I got thinking about this old couple and I had to admit some grudging respect for them. If they didn’t feel old, why should anyone expect them to feel unattractive and be un-attracted to each other just because they were in their seventies? I know most people cringe at the thought of older people being intimate but I honestly hope that when I get to that age I will still be able to do whatever I want to do as long as I am physically able.

For women more than men, age is a thing to fear. No one wants to get older but the secret of youth cannot be found in lying about one’s age. I know of a lady who lied for years that she had just turned 40 (by the way, it wasn’t me, honest!). It wasn’t until her twin brother in Nigeria celebrated his fiftieth birthday that we knew her true age. The sad part was she actually looked very good for a 50-year-old (and her lies denied her the opportunity to have a correct ‘owambe’ birthday party to mark the big five-oh),

I believe that age is whatever you make it. If you feel young in your heart and in your body, then you are as young as you feel. But if you condition yourself to look and feel as old as your parents, then you really are as old as you feel, irrespective of your age.

Our culture demands a certain amount of decorum from older people but we must ensure we do not stifle the youth that is eternal in all of us with etiquette, politeness and respectability. I shudder to think that there are some things I won’t be expected to do when I reach the age of 70, but let those things be things that I won’t have the physical ability to do anymore, not the things that I can still do and want to do. I want to feel beautiful and sexy in myself in spite of the wrinkles, folds and stretch marks. I want to live my life in full, instead of being restricted by the shackles of age.

So what if I am female and getting older? Ladies should note that men learnt a long time ago how to make themselves feel good: they claim they mature with age like wine and that they are better at everything as they grow older; while women treat their age like an affliction to be treated with ineffective beauty regimes and serums that cost a fortune.  Ladies, age is really nothing more than a number.

Don’t live your age, live your life.

PS: Happy birthday to all my FGGC Oyo classmates (1991 set) who turned 40 this year. Girls, we’ve just started o!