Apparently now I'm in my 30s, I need a new skin-care regime. Up until a few years ago, my skin was shedding a million skin cells every 40 minutesâbut by the time I reach 40, my weary cells take 45 days to rejuvenate by the same amount.
And so, according to Marie Claire, it was essential to have implemented a good skin-care routine in my 20s, but I should now expect a dulling of my skin, loss of elasticity, dark spots, under-eye circles and sagging of my lower eyelids, as I journey through my marvellous 30s.
Today, our body image seems to define who we are. The very existence of selfie sticks and how-to YouTube tutorials, of sucking a glass to look like a Kardashian, hints at how obsessed we have become with our appearance.
Yet it seems to me, that after the ripe old age of 30, it's game over. Your value decreases as your age increases. Particularly for a woman. The George Clooneys of this world might be referred to as silver foxes, but if you are female, it's a different ball game.
These girls are too old for us!
A few weeks ago, my casual birthday plans turned into night at a local bar with live music. Two guys circled our table of girls, finding an 'in' to talk to us. After about ten minutes of conversation, I could hear one of the men asking my friend how old she was. As soon as she had replied, 'I'm turning 32 on Thursday', the man leaned over to his friend, shouting, 'Mate, these girls are far too old for us!' The situation that ensued wasn't a pretty one! Turned out the man in question was 34 himself, his friend 29.
A gaggle of fishwives, we berated those men for their lack of tactâwhat a cheek to announce that someone is too old on their birthday! And too old for what?! (I'll leave that to your imagination). One of our group was about to turn 30, and waved her left hand, her fourth finger recently decorated as she tutted her head, underlining the fact that she was engaged anyway and so she didn't care: she felt secure in the place she'd reached.
Other people's responses...
This "birthday present" got me thinking. Does my faith mean I should have responded differently? Does the reality of my age and stage change because of what I believe in, at all? Or is it the same as everyone else's?
That week, I considered if I should be feeling worried. Should I stop wearing converse trainers and leather mini-skirts? Have my skin-care habits set me up for life, or am I going to look like Gollum by the time the clock chimes on my 40th birthday?
Others seem to be more concerned for my biological clock than I am, as if I've been given an expiry dateâthat when I reach the grand old age of 37 my marriage choices will be limited to divorcees or perennial bachelors (not in a good way). What hope do we have if actress Maggie Gyllenhaal was told she was too old at 37 to play the love interest of a 55 year old in a new Hollywood movie?
Yet so many women I meet say that it isn't until they hit their late 20s/early 30s that they start to truly know who they are and feel comfortable in their own skin.
So, is this just a nasty practical joke that the heavens have played on us women; as soon as we feel comfortable and peaceful with who we are on the inside, our outsides start deteriorating and others deem us over the hill?
All the single ladies
Since becoming a Christian at the age of 22, I felt the fear of singledom in older women around me (including ones in their late 20s and the women in church)âthe fear of being left on the shelf.
Embarrassingly, I used to think 'poor thing' when I knew a girl at 35 who was still single. I now understand the reasons behind the lies my ex-colleagues used to tell guys about their age (that they were 29 not 33). I now see the subtle difference it made for them. Married couple friends of mine have even expressed disdain at the number of single women going to their connect group, as if these women have something wrong with them!
Doing it differently
The Bible tells us that with age comes wisdom and that there is honour with growing older.
I wonder if we need to be intentional about not seeing age as an inevitable which only gives comfort if we are seen to be at the 'right' stage of life for our age. We, as the Church, have a radically different viewpoint of youth and ageing and what and who should be included.
What if, instead of despair about not being at the 'right' stage, we were purposeful in our intimacy with God, strengthening ourselves to encourage others in their walk? What if the Church was intentional in treating ageing as the development and growth of wisdom, as the method of becoming an influencer, rather than meeting arbitrary life markers or stages?
Standing at my Grandad's funeral the words were read out, 'But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and grow weary, they will walk and not be faint' (NIV, Isaiah chapter 40, verse 31). It talks about youths growing tired and wearyâand it reminds us that it is only through Jesus that we will one day be restored to the prime of our youth and energy.
While I'm pretty pleased I made 'good habits' in my 20s with my anti-wrinkle cream, I believe God is calling us to have peace, not strife, with where we are at; to remember we don't have a sell-by date; to remind us not to identify ourselves by our youthfulness or beauty, but instead by our character; to encourage us to spend more time and effort nurturing lasting qualities than pro-longing youthfulness ... Not googling the best anti-wrinkle cream for 33 year olds.
Originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda works in Publishing in Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html