Monday, October 10, 2011

Life Starts at.......??

Scenario A { Two ladies at a party}
Mrs S: Your husband tells me it's your birthday today, so how many candles will there be on that cake (laughs)?
Mrs Y: Well 40 if the cake can accommodate that many candles!
Mrs S: *Uncomfortable silence*............Well you know what they say, life begins at 40!

Scenario B {Between two co-workers}
Miss K: Hei Lila tells me you're from the same uni as us! Which batch were you? 
Miss C: I graduated in 1999.
Miss K: Uh oh.......that means you're.......
Miss C: In my 30s.
Miss K: *Silence then nervous giggles* Hei but life begins at 30 no?

Sounds familiar? Have you heard such conversations, been at the receiving end of it or been party to it yourself? I can hear that resounding collective YES echoing through cyberspace for all its' worth. And I can also hear that same collective consciousness say that's common enough a line girl, what you on about this time?

Well folks - those of you who think it's ALL RIGHT to tell people when their life begins, in my humble opinion, life neither begins nor ends at 30 or 40. It starts way before that and ends way after that. Now why do people utter this often quoted phrase? They do it because they want to/or feel the need to make people feel better about the aging process. 

Age ain't no disease, and not everyone feels bad about how old they are. So when you go around telling people that their life starts at 30 or 40, they might find it a wee bit patronising. On the other hand there are those who live in denial about the whole aging thing, and they will surely welcome such false reassurances, so you might wanna make a swift character assessment before you presume to tell people that 40 is the new 20.

Now all lame lines originated from somewhere, so I did a little digging with my virtual spade (Google) and as it turns out there is nothing lame about it. It just became one over time!

According to The Phrase Finder, prior to the 20th century, people didn't live that long. Life expectancy in medieval England was around 25 years and only reached 40 sometime around the turn of the 20th century. Hence the phrase "Life begins at 40" because in previous centuries one would most likely be dead by then!

Factor in Affluence

American psychologist Walter Pitkin is widely credited with coining and popularising the phrase. Thanks to his 1932 book Life Begins at Forty. In it he says: " Life begins at forty. This is the revolutionary outcome of our New Era".

By the 1930s western society in general reached a certain level of affluence. Men could afford a decent retirement and women were somewhat freed from the drudgery of housework with the availability of household gadgets like washing machines and vacuum cleaners. So with more time on their hands and financial security, life sort of got better at 40 for people in this era.

Life begins at 30 coz.........

Was not able to find any historical origins for this one, but based on whatever Google yielded, it appears that in general women are the ones who dread the approach of the BIG 3-0. Remember Ally McBeal? As much as I loved her, she sure had issues man..... or perhaps represented a generation of women who have issues.

So yeah it appears that this phrase was cooked up to reassure women that the 30s would um be kind to them. Coz according to what I read, women in general feel they have to try harder to look good once they are in this age bracket. Jeez really?  Could this be the reason why womens' magazines keep bombarding us with articles on why it's great to be in your 30s, how to be fashionable in your 30s, why women in their 30s are more sexy.......blah,blah,blah.

The author of this blog is in her 30s and never knew that being in this age bracket would be deemed physically and cosmetically challenging. To the extent that women need to be reassured of all the benefits of being in this age group. Is that why women in their 30s can't take part in beauty pageants unless it's the Mrs World Pageant? Let the time come when such rules be changed, now that would be a revolution of sorts wouldn't it?

The way I see it, it's a generalisation to assume that all women dread the approach of their 30s. Which is why it's kinda irritating when people keep telling you that your life is finally starting at 30 bloody years of age! No kidding.........Aging is inevitable, so lets stop coming up with sugar n peach phrases that makes no sense.

OK rant over, have a wonderful manic Monday everyone!

1 comment:

Gadys Tay said...

I think life might start all over again for me when my children are all grown up and are ready to live on their own!!