Why Age Really Should Be Just a Number

There are -- at minimum -- a handful of societal rules and rituals that I find preposterous, puzzling or both. But there's one in particular that vexes me a little more with each passing year.

Since I was a small child, I've known never to ask a lady her age. "What's the big deal?" my 6-year-old mind wondered, and my almost-40 inner voice still asks the same question. Female empowerment quotes flood Pinterest like the rain that prompted Noah to build that boat. Still, we're afraid to admit that we know with certainty the remake of Annie was total crap because we are old enough to remember the 1982 version on the big screen.

It's the same mentality that drove Julia Roberts's and Dermot Mulroney's characters in My Best Friend's Wedding to agree that if they were not hitched by 28, then they would marry one another. Really, Hollywood -- 28? Every gal pal who has made that pact with a guy (remember Phoebe and Joey?) knows 30 or 40 is the age for that sort of deal. Perhaps 28 was pegged for the film because setting it any higher would make Julia Roberts (who was 30 at the time) seem too old? If so, wow.

Is it Tinseltown or polite Southern Belles we have to blame for determining that anyone north of 29 should be ashamed to admit the digits on their drivers license? How can we tell our daughters (and granddaughters) to be proud of exactly who they are if we ourselves are afraid to admit to something as rudimentary as our date of birth? Shouldn't we be teaching them that with age comes wisdom, strength and beauty? Promoting positive body images among young girls is the female crusade du jour. Shouldn't embracing your body as it changes with age be a part of that message, too? How can we tell them to be fearless, and yet be afraid ourselves that someone might figure out Gerald Ford was president on the day we were born? I would love for mine to be the generation that turns this antiquated "don't ask, don't tell" policy on its asinine ear.

Let's be honest here. You look -- approximately, at least -- your age. (You also look -- approximately, at least -- your weight, and I bet I can guess about how much money you make, too. But those are a whole other discussion.) The bottom line is we should discredit the power of outdated tenets of decorum -- we're not fooling anyone. And if you have managed to keep it a great secret, one "comment" misstep by a high school friend on Facebook is going to totally blow your cover. So save that nosy co-worker (who is bound to log on to your LinkedIn page and do the math) some trouble. Don't make your age something to be guarded like the Vatican Secret Archives (yeah, that's a thing) or a whisper uttered in senseless shame.

Every wrinkle of worry on your forehead and every smile line on your face has a story to tell. Own it. Love it. Teach your daughter to never be ashamed of anything that is a part of who she is. Teach her that who you are has been determined by the moments, the memories and the years that you have lived. Own them. Love them.

Here. I'll even go first. 39. Your turn.

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