"Are you 40 yet?" the woman asked.
"My friends and I call the 40s the effit years."
"The effit years. You know, 'Eff it, I'm wearing what I want,' or, 'Eff it--I want to eat that.'"
Fair enough. Except it's only been in my late 30s, early 40s, that I've paid any attention to what I wear or eat. Just last month I figured out that if I wear these undies with those pants, an unsightly pantyline will ensue. If I eat that, I'll walk around with it between my teeth unless I brush. Yesterday, for example, I drank a protein shake during a staff meeting, and a seed took up permanent residence between my front teeth. But at least I knew it.
So the effit years, not so much. It's more like the "ohshit" decade...there aren't enough years left.
In her essay Fighting Time, champion Australian boxer Mischa Merz writes about older female boxers she's met:
What an extraordinary way to play out the narrative of female ageing in this society. The standard options are to sink into a torpor over what you have lost, lamenting some illusory power that came with your attractiveness to men. Or else you can reclaim that lost allure with plastic surgery and turn yourself into a Cougar. Or just vanish. Become a soccer mom and retreat to the sidelines.Although I've recently chosen this warrior's way, I still do some lamenting over what's lost; it's not such the bad thing Merz makes it out to be, as would wanting a body worth its weight in drool. She's right--the path is unconventional for women my age, but I'd like to think this is not a separate path; rather, the fight is part of a larger battle on all fronts, instead. For me, it's not an either/or situation--I box because I've given up my looks, or I'm going to work on my looks and not risk a broken nose. It's "Eff it--I'm doing what I want" with a touch of "What I want is good for me." The confidence and athletic prowess gained from boxing can produce an attractiveness the Cougars can't buy.
What defiance, then, to transgress the conventions of both gender and age and remake yourself as a warrior, demanding attention and standing alone. Here was a group of women heading in a new direction entirely, finding means of exerting power and expressing themselves that seemed to be more sustaining than whatever might be gained from the ability to make men drool. In the era of the middle-age sexual predator, the ‘glam-ma’ now were some genuinely courageous individuals who, as women, didn’t want to go over the same old ground, didn’t want to bat eyelash extensions at busboys or buy enhanced cleavage.
So I'll continue to spend about five total minutes on my hair each morning, and slowly work my way through those 24 bottles. But if none of them helps me step out of the Before photo, I might just buy some more.