It’s been a month since I turned 33. As I cruise towards middle adulthood and a probable midlife crisis with increased anxiety and body aches, I can’t help but flashback to my teenage and early 20s.
I distinctly recall considering 30 and beyond to be officially old.
I even remember how most women in their late 20s and early 30s used to get hurt or offended when I referred to them as “aunty”.
As I’m now officially an “aunty” myself, I completely understand what made those women go wide-eyed with shock.
I also want to go back in time and give my younger self a smack on the head for not being more thoughtful.
Anyhoo, my life back then was pretty much like the kids of my generation who grew up in India in the 90s. It circled around studies and watching teenage dramas and movies (more of books in my case). One such series that was really popular among schoolgoers and college kids was Remix.
It circled around the lives of school-going children with two lead pairs.
Though the content and plot were pretty much predictable, as a teenage viewer, it was appealing because one could easily find themselves in these characters.
I rolled my eyes at most episodes, but I hung on to it because of two major reasons:
A. It made me feel inclusive. Most girls in my batch discussed this series and I felt I just had to watch it in order to feel more accepted and become a part of their group discussions.
B. The show had really good music.
Now, the thing that caught me by surprise about this show was, one of the female leads was in her early 30s.
When a girl from my batch said, “You know the girl who plays Tia Ahuja is 32!” I was shell-shocked.
Yes, someone I (or rather we) would typically call an ‘aunty’ was playing the character of somebody belonging to our age group. This became a hot topic of discussion for many days.
All of us, even those who didn’t follow the show, wanted to know:
How does she look our age?
How is she able to pull off the role so convincingly?
We were so judgy and eager to jump to conclusions that none of us, even for a second realized that the women around us (our mothers, aunts, teachers, et al) were the same age as the actor. Not to mention, they were all quite fit and beautiful as well.
In a few weeks, as would be typical of teenagers, our interest in this topic dwindled. We got over the shock and continued being fans of the show, nonetheless.
Now that I am 33 myself, I look back at these memories with a certain regret. I’m left wondering about two things:
1. How old do I look?
At this point, I only have admiration and respect for that particular actor. She was not only beautiful but also enviably fit for her age. For that matter, I now have a newfound respect for any actor who can manage looking younger than their actual age.
(Disclaimer: I am not talking about male actors here. Certainly not male actors in their 50s and 60s who are still portraying characters of college going students. And quite unconvincinly so, I might add)
I find myself thinking about my own fitness and appearance. How old do I look? This question often hounds me. But it soon passes away when I realize how tough it must be for the actors. They must be under constant stress to look or dress a certain way. And I feel fortunate that I’m under no such pressure. Yeah sure, I want to look and feel young. But don’t we all? That brings me to my next point.
2. Were we conditioned to believe that the life/youth of a woman is potentially over once she hits the age of 30?
Men aging makes them look more authoritative, accomplished, distinguished. Sadly, it’s not that way for women, and they will tell you.
– Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
Women have always been made to feel that they need to look attractive. I remember being advised to lose weight and dress more girly almost every day, and by almost everyone. So, a character like Tia Ahuja, who played someone my age, but was double my age in real life, and yet looked and behaved more like someone my age, was hard to digest for me.
I envied and admired her simultaneously. Was I wrong? Or was society wrong? I still wonder!
My childhood self is sorry for falling prey to such norms, that I now realize were wrong.
Whatever one’s age, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you are fit, and happy with yourself the way you are.
Do you remember such instances from your childhood? What was your favorite show growing up?
Thank you for reading.