Thursday, 28 May 2015

Product: Woman. Sell-by date: Age 22

This post is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but can someone tell me why pop culture's cut-off age for women's sexual desirability (ergo value, because everybody knows women's value is intrinsically tied to their usefulness to men, most especially sexually) is the age of 22?

I was listening to a Ray Charles song yesterday that had a line about a party with '50 girls, none over the age of 22'. This morning, it was a Bruno Mars song about a lost opportunity with a 21-year-old Brooklyn girl. Taylor Swift's ode to (White) girlhood was precisely about 'feeling 22'. There's the sweet sixteen, the finally legal eighteen, the YES GOD! 21, and that's it. Even Adele appears to have quit her career with her last album (titled, yes you guessed it, 21). Lol...

People expect (Nigerian) women to be married by 25, and they don't say 'the big three-oh' with dread in their voices for nothing. I remember saying to someone once that I felt like I'd 'wasted' being 21 because I was pregnant at the time. Where did I get the idea that being 21 was somehow the best part of my youthful womanhood?

Think about the existence of the word 'starlet' -- and about the high turnover rate in Hollywood for those women. Apply the same thought to video vixens, at home and abroad. Think about how the only supermodels over 30 still working have the bodies of teenagers. Think about every Linda Ikeji blog post about how unbelievably young-looking a woman and her body are.

Think about how Nigerian (African?) parents switch their tone from 'is that a boy I just saw you talking to?' when their daughters are starting out as young adults to 'when are you going to bring home your future husband?' in their early twenties. Or, our oh-so-popular refrain; "you aren't getting any younger, you know!"

Men are allowed to grow old; they are rewarded for it in fact. Why aren't women?