I turned 30 in December of 2015 making 2016 the first year of my 30’s. I didn’t have much apprehension about turning 30 as I had expected. It wasn’t a big, scary, or sad moment in my life. If anything, I feel a sense of confidence in myself, stemming from owning who I have become. It’s as if 30 is when women truly get to start living their lives for themselves, free of so many societal expectations, with a wholesome understanding of the ways in which the world influences us.
Only 3 years ago I was living in Toronto at a completely different time in my life. I was single, confused, lost, fit, fearless, abrasive, and stubborn. Of course, some of those traits still exist in me today, but they felt much different then. I basked in the gazes of men around me. As a cishet woman, I loved the attention I attracted from men as I walked through the city, care-free, and open to any new opportunity that presented itself.
Today, I notice that those gazes are becoming less and less frequent. Perhaps the vibe I put out into the universe is enough to deflect any potential gazes, but I can’t help but think it has something to do with my age. It’s quite incredible to look at myself, both internally and externally, and see the stark contrast between myself and someone a decade younger. Lately, I can’t help but wonder what association this outward attention has on our confidence and self-worth.
We live in a society where our value as women is largely defined by our looks. Whether we personally accept this to be true or not, it’s existence is reflected in our surroundings, especially in the media and movies. The constant pressure to grasp tightly to our youth is a driving force behind plastic surgery and expensive skin care regimens. So what happens when you fall on the other side of womanhood? The one that isn’t the “key age” for advertisements, the media, or movies? Is that what 30 is?
Growing up I remember trying very hard to attract male attention through everything from my clothing to my make-up and my behavior. Even though that male attention was mostly turned down, the confidence that it produced made me feel strong and powerful. That sense of strength and power now comes from an intrinsic place while male attention makes me angry and frustrated. Perhaps this is the reality for anyone who considers themselves a feminist after it takes a few years to fully understand the meaning of the word.
When I think about aging, I imagine my frame becoming stronger and more sturdy, my voice louder, and my values unwavering. But I also see myself fading from the spotlight of being an object to oogle at. Aging allows women the freedom to be who they are and look how they want without as much pressure or expectations because we’ve “aged-out” of the small scope of what is deemed attractive. But how fucking tragic is that? You’re still a woman, but you’re an old woman. You’re practically invisible minus the endearment that is a “sweet, little, old lady.”
I’m pretty sure your vagina doesn’t die at a certain age – at least I hope it doesn’t. You still have feelings of desire, passion, and arousal. I’m so curious to see how it feels to be a 40, then 50, then 60, hopefully 70, potentially 80, and god help us a 90 year-old woman. To experience the changes as you move further and further away from your youth and age-out of what society deems as sexy. When you’ve been conditioned your whole life to be sexy but only allowed a maybe 15-20 year window to fit into that tiny box.
This post is full of so many insecurities, stereotypes, and bullshit. I realize this. I realize that I shouldn’t care or get my confidence from the male gaze. But I’m a product of my society and as I wade my way through these muddled waters, I can’t help but try to deconstruct my own experiences. Aging is so strange.