Age is just a number...not

(Image from here. I bought this card for a relative's 50th. She still has it in display)

I finally got around to reading the interview with Anne Hathaway in this month’s Elle (one of my favourite cover girls of this year) and my love for she of the improbably large eyes and mouth was affirmed by the fact that, despite her cutesy teeny-bopper origins as Mia Thermopolis, she’s a smart, sophisticated yet mercifully human girl with a brain cunningly concealed behind the immediately likeable persona of Bambi eyes and ready smiles. She’s not the first girl you’d pick as the most beautiful in the room, but that’s what I think the Elle girl is about. Vogue gets the classically, conventionally beautiful girls, but Elle picks the growers, the faces to watch. They gave Emma Watson the cover last summer, all big hair and '60s eyes, and she’s doing a stellar (ahem) job on the cover of Vogue this month (the first issue of Vogue that I’ve bought in a good few months. Incidentally, Anne has the US Vogue cover this month too. The girl done good.

But she’s not really a girl any more is she. She’s a woman, though the interview opens with her firmly affirming, via a rousing rendition of the Britney Spears classic, that she’s still in between. They casually mention in the article that she’ll be 28 this year, and she muses that she would like to settle down with a family one day.

The number 28 struck me. It’s been floating around in plenty of circles for the past month. Our dearly beloved royal Winklevoss twin, Prince William (observation courtesy of iFlicks) is finally engaged to his beautiful brunette girlfriend, the Charlotte York of St Andrews, Kate Middleton. She’s 28. She’s (supposedly) put her life on hold for this guy, foregoing a traditional career path, or real job, to stand around looking like the epitome of good middle-class breeding in tweed, Ralph Lauren and pastels, with her glossy brunette locks as shiny and smooth as the mane of the horses she is no doubt fond of.

I like Kate. She seems nice, normal and sensible, despite being a tad dull and, let’s face it, rather uninspiring (Chelsey Davy may have been a tad chavvy in appearance, but at least she had a career), and she’ll no doubt make a beautiful bride. A lot of the media doesn’t seem to think so – one paper published a damning article about her lacklustre character and the fact that no future King of England could possibly do with marrying a commoner. I hope it was a joke. I’m unsure.

But I’m off-topic. What interested me was how the angle most often played was that the true tragedy of the Waity Katie scenario was how old she is. Her life is flashing by. She’s practically an old maid. The Evening Standard has a piece about how her younger sister, Pippa, is going to be the oldest bridesmaid of recent times. The poor girl is 26.

While all the big name monthly magazines are tripping over themselves to print life-affirming, ‘throw those rule-books away, girls’ articles about how box-ticking your way to your thirties is the worst possible way to live, certain others are undoing all their good work by constantly printing the ages of their journalists next to the features they publish. Like a badge of honour. ‘Look what this girl has achieved by 26’, ‘pity this poor girl who is still struggling with one tiny aspect of her otherwise perfect life at 24’. And so on and so on. The psychology behind this idea can only have these two possible interpretations. Neither of which make me, 23 in less than a month’s time, feel good.

A friend of mine is 28. He is, by all accounts, massively successful, having risen to almost the highest peak of his professional career trajectory and achieved financial security. But, as he pointed out, it all depends on how you measure success, citing a relative of his who may not have the dream career, but has a loving partner and a healthy baby. I didn’t realise men had to choose between the two as well.

All this life-affirming nonsense about throwing the rule book out of the window is not helping anyone, and neither am I by bringing it, I suppose. But while the rest of us are struggling, there’s nothing I need less than an article about a massively successful 26-year-old with her dream job. Because that’s only three years away. And though a lot can happen in three years, I’m not sure how I’ll find the time to fit it in in between finding my dream man, burning all the rule books and having my eggs frozen.
(Image from here)


  1. You are distracting me from doing work! But I'm very glad you are :).
    Another well written, thoughtful and insightful post Red.
    If I read another article about freezing my eggs I will scream. I want to be like Miranda, in that the only thing in my freezer is vodka.

  2. Big fan of this piece. Especially because it's something I've been worrying about for a while. Every week, Facebook notifies me that another of my old school/college friend has 'got engaged' or is flaunting pictures of their new babies. This makes me slightly panic. I thought I was the one who 'did good' because I moved to London from a slightly backward South-west England town and am trying to forge a good career/life for myself but I still feel like I'm behind in the race!



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