Ecks and the City: How to age gracefully

Next month, I’ll be celebrating my 41st birthday and the fact I made it through the big “4-0.” I’ll also be celebrating because, as it turns out, I made it through 40 and nothing really happened. Wasn’t I supposed to have a mid-life crisis or something?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how living as a woman in your 40s nowadays is much different compared to being in your 40s as a man.

I think this has made for a competition between two loving partners. Whether we like it or not, we’re constantly (and maybe even subconsciously) trying to outshine one another.

Sometimes it really sucks being a female who is aging. In other generations, 40 would indeed be considered old for both sexes. But generally, men over 40 are called “distinguished” (refer to the likes of Brad Pitt or George Clooney).

But when a celebrity female turns the big 4-0, she gets plastered in magazines wearing bikinis and is always asked, “So how does it feel to be 40?” as if it were an incredible accomplishment that no one in the entire world had ever experienced before. Well, thanks to celebs such as Demi Moore, nowadays, women in their 40s can and will sleep with 20-year-old bartenders.

Still, I think all women wonder if we are aging gracefully or just starting to look old; for women in their 40s, there are so many options out there now for how to look and feel young.

At my gym, almost all the women in their 40s have bodies of 20-year-olds. As Track Fitness trainer Laine Martenfeld told me, “All women in their 40s should be doing squats and lunges, which is the foundation to having a nice bum, nice legs and a great core.”

Men in their 40s, he notes, always want to work on their upper body, so they have nice chests and shoulders.

I ask about abs, because, when you are 40, well, the word “gut” makes its way into your vocabulary.

“Good abs aren’t made in the gym,” says Martenfeld. “Good abs are made in the kitchen.” Meaning us 40-year-olds need to eat healthy foods. He says that women do worry about the flab under their arms, but says if they are doing dead weights (heavy weights), tons of lunges and squats and are eating healthy, it shouldn’t be a worry.

“You never see someone with great legs, a great butt, flat stomach with loose flab under their arms,” Martenfeld notes. “That’s why lunges and squats are so necessary.”

To humbly brag, I do not have a gut, but my fiancé, 42, has started to worry about his.

Also, I have started to go grey. At my last hair appointment, which included a colouring and trim, I coughed up $180. “At least you have hair,” Niro, who is part owner, said to me. “That’s true!” I responded. Just yesterday, my fiancé came home with a new haircut. Our toddler now has more hair than my fiancé. I asked him how much his haircut cost. “Twenty-five dollars,” he said, “including tip.” Sigh.

My man spends $25 a month on upkeep, but in this last year of being 40, I got Botox twice in my frown lines and am now getting my upper lip waxed, along with my monthly bikini, underarm, leg, and eyebrow wax. I’m not very good at math, but in this one year of being 40, I’ve probably spent approximately $5,000 to “age gracefully.”

I suppose we all worry about getting older — but men worry about beer guts while women worry about how gravity will affect our butts and breasts. In a recent article in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, there was this headline: “Good news girls … we are finally aging better than men (but one in ten women still worry that their partner will leave them for a younger model).”

The study, of 1,000 females and 1,000 males, found that nearly two-thirds of females said they were aging better than their partner, and even men seemed to agree. So maybe that age-old generalization that men age better than us females is now extinct — like dinosaurs.

Because we women are bombarded with anti-aging products and procedures, we must be more aware then men when it comes to aging. For one, I don’t tell my fiancé all the things I do to “age gracefully,” like put on suntan lotion (even in the winter) or go to spas for facials. I just tell him I’m interviewing someone.

And, who knows? Maybe when he says he’s going to the office, he’s doing 20 push-ups three times a day. Men, the study found, start worrying about aging at 42, while we females start worrying at 40.

This is my last month of being 40 and I’m going to make the most of it! And I’m sorry if I age gracefully. I can’t help it. (Without a lot of help and money, ahem, that is.)

And if you know my fiancé, please don’t show him this article.

Post City Magazines’ columnist Rebecca Eckler is the author of Knocked Up, Wiped!, How to Raise a Boyfriend, The Lucky Sperm Club and her latest book, The Mommy Mob.

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