So where do you think these cultural ideas about 30 come from?
Well, I was thinking about my mom’s generation, and like – my mom got married at 29, which in that time period was old to get married. She didn’t have me until she was 32, which was also old for that generation. So I just feel like, historically, women were married with kids by the age of 30.
And people still sort of think that’s what 30 means.
Yeah, Jezebel just had this post about “mom haircuts,” and how moms are unsexy. People just think 30, you get married, you have kids and then you’re just immediately off the sexually desirable list. You’re just, like, an untouchable.
There was a great comment on this XO Jane article I read the other day that said the media basically only portrays three ages: “Kid, SEXY SEX MACHINE, and Old.” And so people have no idea what different ages actually look like between kid and senior citizen.
That’s one of the things was trying to show with my silly Tumblr – what 30 actually looks like. And of course that 30-year-olds can still be attractive, despite what this weird myth is. But I had a few people push back against me, saying that it was a negative or anti-feminist message, because it’s focusing on this sort of youth-based standard of beauty. I didn’t know how to respond, because I can see their point, but ..
Anything you do somebody’s gonna say something. I’m sure somebody’s gonna see my project and be like, ‘Well, just by talking about turning 30, you’re reinforcing this pressure or stereotypes.’ And I thought about that before doing the project, but you know what? I’m just exploring whether or not these misconceptions still exist, you know? People are all over the board about it — it’s like some people believe in it, some people don’t. It’s interesting to find out how people feel about things.
Overall, with your interviews, what impression did you get about how these women felt about turning 30?
I would say overall it was positive, but I don’t know if that’s because I provided a really positive environment; I feel like (because of that) some people wanted to present their feelings in a positive way.
I did get some people that I feel were brutally honest, about ‘I’m not where I thought I would be with my life’ and things. And I mean, that’s kind of how I feel, too. When I was a kid, I thought ‘Oh my god, 30, that’s so old! I’ll totally be married and have kids and have this amazing career and all these things,” and I mean … I’m okay with where my life is, but it’s not where I thought it would be when I was 18.
Because 30 seems so old when you’re 18!
Yeah. I mean it seemed like I should have all my shit figured out by 30, and I definitely don’t.
Okay, so there are two quotes that I really liked from your project that I think go along with what you were just saying. One woman said:
“All my friends said 30 is when your life starts to change for the positive, and it has.”
Did you get a lot of people that felt like that?
I did get a lot of people who were just trying to be, like, super 30-positive. I couldn’t tell whether they actually felt that way or were trying to convince themselves that they felt that way. I do think some really felt it. The girl who said 30 is “just the beginning” — she just got married, she has her own business that’s really taking off. For her, thirty is fine because she’s really making stuff happen.
I kind of feel like at 30, I know more about who I am and what I want, where at points in my twenties I was definitely more unsure and all over the place. But I really don’t think you can ever really have it all figured out.