Age. Why is it such an important issue? Or rather, why is youth?
I don’t feel like I’m getting ‘old’. I don’t really think I look it, but lately the slew of advertisements and movies starring people born in the eighties, and (gasp) even the nineties is striving to prove me wrong. Everywhere I look, teen appeal is pounding into my brain the fact that youth has somehow crept away from me in the night as I slept, and I’m well over the age where hippies of old insisted I could no longer be trusted.
As I blame society and The System for most things, I think I’ll stick to my usual for this as well. Someone, somewhere along the line said, “Youth is where it’s at.” And everyone followed. True, there can be arguments made about evolution and the drive to reproduce with the youngest, and thereby most virile, of the species. Yet, I can’t hold our base nature responsible for the total disregard our society has for those who’ve crested the ripe old age of twenty-five.
Young people are dumb. It’s not their fault. They just have no experience. They run out in the world thinking they know everything, and find out they know nothing. I know; I’ve done it myself. Even though I’m lamenting my fate as an initiate of the wrinkled set, I really don’t know how far back into my youth I would go to reclaim that former idyllic visage. Being young was the hardest thing I had to do. So why am I in such a huff about its demise? And why, when most people recognize this fact, is youth so revered?
I think it’s all about ideal. An unlined face. A supple body. A muscle-to-fat ratio that isn’t tipped crazily in the wrong direction. It doesn’t matter what’s under the hood, as long as the looks are there. Take Anna Nicole Smith (I know, we’re all sick of hearing about her, but she’s a prime example, so bear with me). Anna was dumb as a bag of bricks. But, she was beautiful. She graced the cover of Playboy and became a Guess model (something, I’ve heard, that’s difficult to do). Her beauty outweighed her lack of mental ability. Whatever she did, whatever she may, or may not have injected into her system, she was beauty incarnate — and all was good. Then, age began to creep up. That bright red lipstick only served to coarsen her tanned, slightly weathered face. Her mouth sagged just a bit. Even thin again, she wasn’t the Anna she used to be. She was ‘old’ and her looks no longer buffered her from those who sought to exploit her deficits. She became the media’s clown. That’s my theory, anyway.
Unfortunately, I’m not immune to this societal disease. I’ve made Resonance twenty-three (of course, if I were to make her any older the fact that she still lives with her mother would start to veer away from irritating and dive straight into creepy). Still, I could have made Quinn much older. Instead, he’s twenty-five — shouldering just enough years to appear mature without having him suffer the burden of all those gross wrinkles. The characters in my next book are also young (physically, at least). Why? Why am I feeding into this misconception that those who’ve reached over a quarter of a century are nose-diving into the grave? Maybe because I know what sells, and, in the end, I’m still society’s bitch, whether I want to be or not.
I do admire the fantasy writers who’ve broken free of this chokehold. Kelley Armstrong has Paige, a thirty-something witch with a few extra pounds gracing her frame. A. Lee Martinez’s Duke the Werewolf and Earl the vampire were well into their middle years when made immortal. Even Laurell Hamilton’s Anita Blake storms through her thirties with way more vigor than I can muster.
Maybe this is all a bout of hypersensitivity because the face I see in the mirror is no longer the one I remember. Up to a point, every year brought positive changes — the chubby cheeks and the diminutive features morphed into a larger head, more defined jaw line and adult-sized bits and pieces. Then, the changes seemed to stop. For a few years it appeared that time had indeed ceased to march on and I would remain in that state forever. I was fooled. Robbed. The first lines began to appear at the edges of my eyes. The creases of my mouth sagged a little more. And I realized that time was nowhere near finished wreaking its havoc on my face.
Even more disheartening is the never-ending parade of youth marching behind me. For a while I could pretend we were the same age — almost. Now, though, there’s no getting around the fact I’m no longer carded in most establishments. Luckily, I’m in a profession where my brain is more important than my appearance. And, when it comes time for that headshot, well, I’ll be happy that some time-reversing prodigies invented filtered lighting and Photoshop.
March 6th, 2007 at 6:10 pm
Yeah, I find it amusing to note how old I appear to my daughter and her friends. Logically, I know it – I remember being that age and how parents looked to me – yet inwardly, I can’t believe it.It’s also funny how the older I get, the younger everyone else looks – both those younger and older than I. 60? Still wet behind the ears. 😉
March 6th, 2007 at 4:16 pm
You’re right, Kate. I have older friends who think I’m still just a baby. The problem is, I have nieces and nephews who think I’m a fossil.I’m young enough to remember how old everyone looked to me even fifteen years ago. But, I’m also far enough beyond it to be indignant about it.
March 6th, 2007 at 2:48 pm
It’s funny, isn’t it, how we never expect it to happen to us. 🙂 I’ve recently had to accept the fact that no matter what I do, the bags under my eyes are permanently packed and bulging at the seams, and no amount of make-up is going to disguise them. But just as I want to shake the 30-somethings who talk about how “old” they’re getting, I’m sure there’s a fifty year old woman waiting to kick my ass. And a 60yr old behind her, and so on. It ain’t over til it’s over.
March 5th, 2007 at 6:30 pm
I always wonder if a vampire approached me and offered to make me immortal if I could ask him or her to come back in a few months so I could do some maintenance work.It’s true about how well we’re aging as a society. I’m thankful every day I live in a time where it’s possible to be my age and still have all my teeth.
March 4th, 2007 at 11:57 pm
I think the appeal of supernatural beings, like vampires, lies largely in the fact that they don’t age. If I could go back to any physical age, but keep my life experience, I’d pick 25 in a heartbeat. I’d even go 28 if I could just get back my pre-baby metabolism.But it is tough to see little lines start to appear. And I’m lucky, I was carded until I was 34! The worst part though is feeling the physical aches. I never used to have sore knees or get a kink in my neck from doing a somersault. I can’t even sleep in the same positions I used to because my arms aren’t as flexible as they used to be. I really hate that!On the other hand, we are lucky that we live in this time. Youth will always be envied, but people are ageing better than ever. Who would’ve have thought 40 and 50 could look so good? I don’t like ageing, but I’m trying to give it as much of a fight as I can. I never plan on having plastic surgery to “fix” me so lifestyle is key. I just bought a new bike today in fact. I used to run every day but it was taking a toll on my knee’s — another lovely side effect of age. So now I have a bike to exercise on. But I’m trying, which I guess is all any of us can do.