Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"'Vanity is a great motivator,' he said, between sips of jasmine green tea with cinnamon [...]"

27 really is that age. It's a number that always sounded adult to me growing up - possibly because that's the age my mother was when she married my father, possibly because it's not an age at which I ever imagined I'd still be in school. ('All-but-dissertation' is still 'school.') Quirks of the New Yorker aside, anything you accomplish at 27 is the achievement not of a precocious genius but of a full-fledged member of one's chosen field. It's an age at which no one's calling Lifetime on you if you choose to become a parent. (This example brought to you by the fact that, despite the window being closed, I can hear a deep-voiced man yelling "WHEEEE" at the top of his lungs in the playground downstairs. I can only hope a child and a swing are involved.)

27 is also, it seems, two years too late to start worrying about wrinkles. "Seems" because this is a NYT Styles invent-a-trend piece. There is, alas, one of those "Enlarge This Image" features on the accompanying photo of a 27-year-old "dating blogger from Brooklyn." "Alas" not because there's anything wrong with the way she looks, but because, given the topic at hand, the option to "enlarge" all but forces the curious reader to check out her skin elasticity. And she looks... 27. A tragedy, I know. How do we 27-year-old women even get out of bed in the morning?

This 27-year-old woman gets out of bed because of such a thing as Oren's Daily Roast Viennese Blend, a miraculous anti-aging product if I've ever encountered one. Also sunscreen. In that entire article about preemptive war against wrinkles, not a word about sunscreen? Sure, even the non-acne-causing ones cause breakouts even in the not-acne-prone (and old - have I mentioned old?), but a) the occasional zit gives us a youthful air, and b) I'll take Neutrogena SPF 85 over "Supermodel Legs, a cream with chili pepper, [...] meant to be applied whenever 'you need runway-ready legs,' according to the box." Meanwhile, if you're over 25, you can rest assured you don't need runway-ready anything.


Britta said...

I am always curious about this, mainly because I am 27 and have 27 year old skin (fine wrinkles forming around the eyes, creases on the forehead that take longer to go away, etc.). I also have ok skin, but not great skin otherwise. I don't have blotchy or acne prone skin, but I also don't have tiny pores and super soft smooth skin either. But anyways, even though I pretty much look my age skin-wise, people always assume I am much, much younger. If it's the case that you can have 27 y.o. skin and be 27 but people still ask you if you are 19, then what is the point about worrying if your skin ages you? Is there a critical point where your wrinkles suddenly cease to be irrelevant and then suddenly add 10 years to your age? If so, I would like to know when.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Aging/the age people imagine you to be is only partly about wrinkles. There's also hair/hairstyle, body shape, clothing choice, etc. Dressing in a way that signals "student" takes the years off... to a point. The straight-up-and-down look younger than the curvy, because curves can read as "matronly." Also anything "mom" - mom jeans, mom haircuts - signal a life stage associated with 30-and-up. But I even think things as simple as stress level enter into it - if I'm under a lot of stress, I get more ma'ams than if not.

Anyway, as for the why-care issue, I guess because one day the wrinkles aren't there, and then they are, and any change that signals aging (first gray hair, but even, albeit not to all girls, puberty) can be cause for alarm in a youth-oriented society. The greater mystery to me is why women are supposed to care about cellulite. This is a feature that's a) unavoidable, and b) irrelevant to a woman's attractiveness unless she's so famous that paparazzi are photographing her lounging at the beach. Barring extreme cases, why is this something anyone would get worked up about? Because OMG a man might notice in bed? Assuming this man's previous partners/possible alternatives are also women over the age of 18, it's something he's long since accepted (or simply never noticed), if heterosexuality's going to be his thing.

PG said...

But I even think things as simple as stress level enter into it - if I'm under a lot of stress, I get more ma'ams than if not.

Agreed. The first time I was horrified rather than pleased not to be getting carded for a drink was in my first semester of law school, during exam period, when I was out with a (non-law school) friend who is actually a year older than myself. We both ordered margaritas; her age was checked, but mine wasn't. It's the only time that's happened while I've been hanging out with her, or anyone else my age or older, so I chalked it up to my looking older from stress.

Britta said...

Because cellulite is a way to get even very thin women to spend money on being less "fat"?
If you fall in the small fraction of women who can't be fat shamed based on overall body shape or weight or measurements, you can still feel inadequate for having cellulite, or inner thigh fat (my personal least favorite thing to worry about), or anything else that any post pubescent women who is not a famine victim has.