When I was 18, I used to lie about my age to get into bars. Drinking was my incentive for that. I can honestly say that after turning 21 and being able to legally consume alcohol, there hasn’t been any other incentive to lie about my age, ever since. I’m 37 years old. I was born in 1980. Yes, I’m a woman, and, yes, I’m almost 40.
Telling people you’re younger than you actually are always seemed against logic to me. I always felt that if you were compelled to lie about your age, it would mean that some degree of vanity were involved. On that basis, wouldn’t it make more sense to tell people you were older than your actual age? If I were to tell people I were 45, I’d imagine people would think I looked pretty good for my age — or at least better than if I were to tell them I were 25. Thus, I could never fathom why anyone would say they were younger.
Lying about your age, however, is more problematic for me than that. Age-dishonesty, although confusing to me, at best, has some deeply upsetting social consequences, at worst. When women lie about their age, they give in to a very sad notion that women actually have an expiration date. The hush-hush attitude suggests that we might actually have something to hide and that we better keep quiet. In the era of #metoo, I can’t imagine anything more important than women deciding to embrace the inevitable phenomenon of aging with pride.
In my work as a therapist, I find that both men and women struggle with aging, but women seem to express a great deal more fear, embarrassment, and sadness when they talk about aging. If we, as women, really want to be treated as equals, however, then we can’t afford to support the idea that a woman ought to keep her true age a secret — it seems downright Victorian to me. Most of us want to be loved for who we are as people, and how can we experience real love if we don’t share our truths? Your birth date is the starting point of your story — if you lie about that detail, then how is your story told with any authenticity? When we lie about our ages, we support the idea that aging for women is shameful, when really, our aging selves might be more beautiful than our youngest selves.
When I was 33 1/2 years old, I got divorced — and the fact that it happened at that age is as important as any other significant piece of the story. If I told you I were a different age when it happened, the story would neither be the same, nor would it be real. I barely recognize the girl I was in those days who actually thought that age was old — and I’m extremely grateful for having also divorced myself from her, as well.
As a way of coping with the intense changes I was experiencing at that time, I threw myself into dating. I had not dated since my early 20s. What I immediately discovered, was that dating in my 30s was worlds more interesting and exciting than anything I experienced in my early 20s. The men whom I was meeting were mostly all in their 30s and 40s, and vastly different from the much younger men from earlier dating years who were juxtaposed against them in comparison. Each new guy during this 2nd Round of dating brought something invaluable to the table— life experience. Each man had gone through countless journeys since their 20s that involved business endeavors, oodles of failed relationships or marriages, sometimes child-rearing, and also a great deal more travel around the world just due to having been on the planet longer. To me, it was incredibly sexy that men in their 30s and 40s simply had a more interesting story to tell than men in their 20s— and so did I. I had more to say than I did back then, because I had done more with my life. It was then that I realized that men became sexier to me with age, and I wondered if many women didn’t realize that they probably had become sexier with age, as well.
We all know that in the workplace, nothing has more value than experience. It befuddles me, however, that people don’t realize that it’s the same way in our personal lives. Most people I know in successful marriages that began in their 20s will attribute their relationship success to having grown together, over the years. I’m certain that with age, I’ve becomes a more interesting me, which is why I’m not ashamed of my aging.
Many women I know fear that their true ages might be stigmatizing when looking for jobs and men. I argue that it might help separate the boys from the men to start being truthful and unashamed of your age. If a man won’t date a woman of a certain age due to perceived fertility challenges, I can kind of wrap my head around that since the reason isn’t a shallow one. He may, however, want to explore that with her if some genuine interest or connection is there. If a man won’t date a woman, simply because he’s hung up on a number in an image-conscious way, then that seems neither reasonable nor kind. Any man I date is going to eventually see my passport, and I wouldn’t want to have to admit that I was lying about the day I came to this earth — which should be a day he is proud to celebrate with me. I’d want a relationship based on secure trust and honesty, and I can’t ask for that from anyone if I can’t deliver it, myself.
To clarify, I don’t believe that women who lie about their age are doing so to be deceitful — I think that many women lie about their age because they think they have to. If we continue to lie about our ages, however, then we may send the message to our daughters that they have to, as well. Thus, we have to stop supporting phenomena that keep us down. Our age tells the world simply what chapter we’re on in our timelines — and our timelines are nothing to be ashamed of. I think most kind-hearted people would agree with me that it’s time for women to be prouder than ever about who they are. The days of accepting sexual harassment and other #metoo events as just another part of the female experience are, thankfully, and, seemingly, dying down. These changes can only begin to take place, globally, however, when we start with ourselves. When we confront the woman in the mirror and tell her to celebrate her age rather than resent it, we are unknowingly helping other women at the same time. I think we can agree that It’s time for women to start helping each other — after all, we’re not getting any younger:).