September 19, 2019

40 is the New 40

“Open your browser. Start typing, “40 is the new…” and what do you imagine pops up? I’ll tell you. It’s “30,” with 87 million results, and “20,” with a shocking 121 million results. Click on any number of the top articles and you’ll read bloggers’, columnists’, and health experts’ exultant claims about how and why 40 is no longer old. Of course, implicit in this argument is the perennial bias against aging, the assumption that everyone — if given the choice — would stay forever young.

I’ve been pondering my own 40th birthday, which arrives in a matter of days. I’ve talked to a number of people at all ends of the age spectrum and read dozens of articles like those I mention above. And based on this highly unscientific research, I admit that in some ways, I’m convinced: To be 40 now is certainly very different than being 40 at any other time in our history.

As a white, cisgender, more-or-less middle class American, I have the privileges of a longer life expectancy and better health outcomes than previous generations. I, like many others, have reinvented myself professionally, and to some degree even personally, more than a few times in my adult life. I have the freedom to choose my career, my spouse, and what I do with my time — a freedom most women in all of recorded history did not have. I have the benefit of access to information about nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. I even have a little disposable income for things like moisturizer and eye cream. Taking all that into account, 40 for me feels unlike my mother’s 40, or my grandmother’s 40. It’s certainly different from what I might have imagined as a kid.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."

"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."

"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."

"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."

"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."

"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."

"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."

"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."