40 is NOT the new 30

Forty is not the new 30. Shut up, liars.
40 is 40.
I know this because I AM FORTY.
Last week, I turned 40 entirely against my will. I couldn’t stop it, or avoid it, or ignore it, or bribe it to go away. 40 came at me like the Grim Reaper on a bullet train filled with “Over The Hill” mylar balloons and reading glasses. It sucks, too, because I really want to be the kind of woman who ages with dignity and grace. I want to be cool about it, easing into each new year with a sense of pride, welcoming the days that lay ahead. But I am soooo not cool about it. Instead, I am aging in more of a dumpy, clumsy sort of way, flopping around in a fight against the forces of time and nature as if those are things I can actually change.
Needless to say, 40 hit me hard.
As my 40th birthday approached, people kept trying to make me feel better about being almost dead. They kept saying encouraging things like “40 is the new 30!” or, even more ridiculous, “40 is the new 20!” And I just smiled back and nodded with a look that I hope said, “YOU ARE EFFING DELUSIONAL.” That’s a damn dirty lie, that’s what that is. And we need to talk about it, because A) You have been the victim of this lie, and you think something must be wrong with you because when you turned 40 you definitely DID NOT feel 30. Or B) You haven’t turned 40 yet, but you think you might someday, and you’re clinging to the hope that 40 is the new 30, or preferably the new 20.
Friends, Ladies, Countrywomen, lend me your ears…
40 is just 40.
You can act like you’re 30 and dress like you’re 20, but you will still be 40. And I just wish someone had been straight with me, so I could have been better prepared. I wish I had been told the truth, which is that I would have a 40 year old body and a 40 year old brain and that this is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. So, because I love you, here are some important facts about 40:
  • You will grow a lady-beard. This vampire facial hair sparkles like diamonds in the sun. Occasionally, a single hair on your neck or face will grow quite long, and when a loved one attempts to brush it off, you will both be horrified to find IT’S ATTACHED.
  • The cottage cheese on the backs of your thighs spreads like a virus, and it’s now on the fronts of your thighs. And your arms. The noonday sun is a 40 year old woman’s Kryptonite. 
  • Something frightening happens to a woman’s chestal region at 40. It’s like flipping a switch. I mean, like, literally flipping a switch; things are pointed up, and then all of a sudden they’re pointed down. This happens so fast, it’s actually confusing. I’m serious. You hop out of the shower one day and catch a glimpse of your goodies in the mirror, and you’re like, “Wait a minute. When did those melt?”
  • Sometimes your hips make noises when you don’t want them to make noises. Repetitive hip-popping? Not sexy.
  • People say super nice things, like, “Wow. You look good…for your age.” Don’t stab them. Forgive them. They know not what they do.
  • Even when you look really good, you don’t look that good. You can get dressed up and your makeup can be flawless and you can be having a great hair day and no one will even notice. The grocery store checker who would have flirted with you at 30, will call you “Ma’am” and ask you about the weather. It’s almost like being invisible. But not.

So here’s the kicker – All the crappy outer beauty stuff, and the interior moaning and creaking that makes 40 miserable is the same exact stuff that makes 40 kinda kickass…

  • You become more than a pretty face. I know that’s sexist and dated and old-fashioned, but as you are less often defined externally by your looks or your boobs or your sexuality, you discover the freedom to share the more significant parts of who you are and what you have to offer the world. Plus, as people stop looking your way, you stop caring if people are looking your way, and that’s powerful.
  • You really do look good for your age! Rock on, Lady. But don’t forget you are smarter, and kinder, and more generous, and more capable, and wiser, and cooler and better because of your age. In fact, you almost feel like a real grown up. 
  • Your hips pop during sex and you don’t even care because you know how to laugh during sex. And you know all the other sex stuff, too. YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT SEX because 40 makes you THE QUEEN OF SEX. OR NOT! Does not matter. 
  • Your body is a wonderland…of lumps and bumps and wrinkles and stretch-marks and scars and depleted muscle mass and droopy tits and turkey skin and tufts of fur, and you are actually coming to grips with it. ‘Coming to grips’ is a very mature thing to do, and you can do that because you’re 40 now. You can look at your body and feel proud of all it has accomplished, and also relieved that nobody else is really looking at your body. Because you’re 40 now.
  • Cottage cheese arms make you sad, but they don’t make you put away your tank tops. You like tank tops, and dammit, you have the right to bare arms. Let your bingo wings fly free, my friends – 40 don’t care.
  • You can’t stop the beard, but you do not have to take that shit laying down. I was with a group of women commiserating about our facial fuzz situations, when the oldest of us – the GORGEOUS, stylish, classy chick I want to be when I grow up – shrugged her shoulders and said cooly, “I shave.” And we all stopped talking and our mouths hung open and we stared at her, and she was like, “I shave my face once or twice a week.” This was the most liberating thing EVER. Shave, pluck, wax, peel, sand blast. Whatever, man. We’re 40. We do what we want! So if you just want to go with it and let those chin hairs free? Shine on, sister! I support you.
In the interest of community and sisterhood and being on the same imperfect, shriveled up, squinty eyed, forgetful, granny panty team, can we please just let 40 be 40 from now on? Can we quit pretending that 40 should be something other than 40, and instead welcome the next 40 year old woman into our doughy arms, by putting a stubbly cheek against hers, and gently whispering something encouraging, like “I tweeze my chest hairs.” or “I pee when I sneeze.” or “I’m going gray down there.” 
Can we spill all of our not-so-old-lady secrets, and let the next woman in line know it’s ok to be 40, and to look 40, and to act 40? 
Because, honestly, I’m too damn tired to be 30 again. 
I’m 40. All I want to do is watch Gilmore Girls and take a nap. And that’s ok. 
How do you feel about approaching 40? 
How will you welcome the next woman into the 40 year old fold? 



  1. Annika on April 30, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    40 was great… I turned 40 in the mission field learning that Jesus saves despite missionaries, not because of them, and that being called to missions probably means you needed to be dealt with more directly by God…. but I digress. At 40I still felt I had time to do everything and people were finally treating me like an adult (outside the mission field) instead of like that woman who was too young to have 4 kids…. but 50….. 50 turns the world over. It’s not depressing, not scary…. but perspective changes…. boy howdy but it changes.

    I had one friend who was always lecturing me about needing to not worry about making changes to my career etc as quickly as I can… you’re only just over 50, she’d keep saying, you have loads of time, calm down with all this planning, etc…

    So a few weeks ago she turned 50…. now she’s emailing me saying, “I feel like I have to make a change soon or it’s going to be too late; I’ll just have to hunker down and make the best of it and wait to die whether it’s good for me for the rest of my life or not…”

    And I’m, “Welcome to the other side of 50. I’ve been trying to tell you that it isn’t about being afraid of the age or feeling like you’re already old or being ashamed that you’re not 20-something…. it’s just that your perspective changes and your priorities shift.” She asked me why nobody told her this before, lol…. they did, I said, you just weren’t ready to actually listen to it yet… it’s one of those things you have to get there to really appreciate….

  2. Katherine on May 1, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    This – “You can act like you’re 30 and dress like you’re 20, but you will still be 40.”
    And this – “I wish I had been told the truth, which is that I would have a 40 year old body and a 40 year old brain and that this is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. ”

    I’m turning 40 in two months – with open arms and a hearty laugh – because this is who I am now. (and because my husband is already 45 so there’s nothing to me being 40) =)

  3. LorriecBaird on August 15, 2018 at 4:38 am

    The Daily Bread has truly disappointed me with this article. Swears and innuendos do not belong in a Christian (?) article, on a Christian page. There was nothing uplifting ot inspiring here. I am over 3 DECADES older, and every day I walk in strength, grace and beauty because the Lord shines through my wrinkled face. My countenance is His…snd He is BEAUTIFUL.

  4. Meade Haufe on February 2, 2020 at 12:41 am

    40 may not be the new 20, but it is s definitely different than it was 40 or more years ago. People really are still young at 40. I think middle age starts at 50 and it’s also up to the individual. With this kind of attitude if believe 40 is old, you will be old before your time!

  5. Shah on April 9, 2021 at 1:29 am

    Well the way I see it if you feel you are 40 then you are 40 I always see age as a number. I still feel young at 40 and feel I could do things I was doing when I was in my 30s. I run fast as I could I still feel strong and I still wear the clothes I used to wear in my 30s and have same physique. I think it’s how you keep yourself preserved and maintain yourself. I believe in looking after your health is equally important as you want to feel. May be some don’t like the idea of turning certain age because you have lived four decade, but many years ago people made it sound 40 is a middle age norm when the fact of the matter is it is not.

  6. Siobhan on July 7, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    I am going to turn 40 in 3 years and articles like this make me scared first and then angry.
    Even WHO already officially shifted middle age to 45 and even that is arbitrary. Some grow old at 28, both physically and mentally, some are still kicking at 48. People now retire at almost 70 and every third person will probably reach 100. Yet so many people still feel the need to tell 30 or 40-year-olds that they’re over the hill (I already got a coffin cake at 30). At 31 I realized how young I still was and I don’t intend to change now. Also funny to read how the writer apparently turned all saggy and ugly overnight, when out of the photo, a beautiful young person is staring back, that could be envied by many a 30-year-old.

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