16 Women Share How Their Life Changed (Or Didn’t) After 40

At the age of 20, the bathroom was the place to prepare for a party while applying body gloss to your décolleté. At the age of 40, you can go there to check your gray or hide from your children while reading Twitter. At least Pop culture makes you believe this: 40-year-old women basically have one foot in the grave and the other in balance on a Bosu ball trying to hold on to their rapidly declining muscle mass.

The truth is that while some things will certainly change in four decades, many of these changes are for the better – and they are certainly not universal. One 40-year-old may stop coloring his hair, while another finally gets the platinum-white shampoo of his dreams, maintenance is hell. Due to childbirth, pain tolerance may be higher and less emotional than vampires. Here’s what 16 women said about the joints they made, the products they started buying, and the changes they experienced – or didn’t experience – at age 40.


I created an offline room – puzzles, vinyl records, books, etc. – because I longed for more solitude and quiet space. And I bought more hair thickening products than ever before, and spent a ridiculous amount on Olaplex and Ouai. I would never have panicked about thinning or leaving my hair a few years ago. –Rupal P., Westchester, NY


Turning 40 years made me allergic to complicated schedules and I felt the rush. My time and serenity feel more valuable than ever. I politely decline more invitations, spend time, and apologize less for my deliberately slower pace. –Morgan R., San Diego

I let that shit go.

I stopped shit about things I didn’t care about. – Katie R., Portland, OR

My “milestone” birthday wasn’t really a big deal.

Honestly, I feel like nothing has changed. I was pregnant at the age of 40 with my second child in the middle of a pandemic. Normally we would have made a big trip on my birthday; instead, we celebrated in the park with friends, and it didn’t feel important. The plus is that I still feel so young that it didn’t depress me. –Alice O., Chicago

I put sex first.

When I let my sex life stay in the background for a long time, I finally switched to some anxiety medications that I suspected were causing me libido problems. I also stopped caring about my abdominal muscles: I have a very cheeky and rather fluffy belly, and I will always be. And I stopped following anyone – even friends – whose Instagram accounts made me sick. –Elizabeth K., New York City

I stopped dating covers.

I found a wonderfully mature love with someone I would never have been with when I was 20-30. I was looking for excitement in my relationships and I always fell in love with men I had to take care of or who needed something from me. Now I’m dating some very stable person who has evolved through life experience – dare I say “square” – and I feel a lot more relaxed. –Summer W., Sacramento, CA

I got over my knees.

I’m a lot more about makeup, not because I try to cover myself up, but because I pay attention to myself and how I want to present to others differently. I enjoy eyeshadow much more now than I was 16! Also, finally – after years and years of hiding my “plump” knees under long shorts and pants in the summer – I wore surgery for the first time at the age of 40, and it felt amazing. –Whitney G., PA

My life stayed Mining.

I stay happy burdened by children or men. –Sara H., Sacramento, CA

I stopped drinking.

About eight years ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD. Then I had a baby. Then a pandemic broke out. My solution was to drink a couple of glasses of wine every night. But between ADHD, stress, and alcohol, my brain just stopped working. Then I got a very high job in a very performing culture, and I knew someone had something to give. So I left out the alcohol. Without it, I could embrace grace in all its forms: a sense of silence, creative inspiration, and most importantly, forgiveness — for the ways in which my brain works differently, a hard-working mother is difficult, and failure is sometimes inevitable. –Jess G., San Francisco

I had my own wedding.

I married for the first time at the age of 49 after 26 years of dating with my current husband. We did it our very way – a small private ceremony with 10 of our closest friends at an inn in Vermont, followed by an eight-course private chef’s meal – and it was great. –Noelle W., New York City

I had to curb fatty foods.

I started to notice that I can’t eat what I want, especially fried food, otherwise there will be nasty stomach aches! –Kelly D., Appleton, WI

My perspective changed.

I have enough experience to understand that everyone is on a difficult path in life, and replacing condemnation with kindness — toward others and myself — is a long way to go. I have a much greater ability to empathize, and it has really made my life better. –Jennifer J., New York City

I let go of my body BS.

It didn’t happen overnight, but I turned 40, I learned to appreciate my body based on how it allows me to experience life in the world instead of measuring it against some low and arbitrary measure of desirability. I saw how age affected my mother’s physical health, and it was like looking at a crystal ball. I realized that one day I would look back and wish for the body I have now. –Danielle C., Portland, OR

I put myself first.

It was always hard for me to distinguish between self-care and selfishness. Now I know that taking care of yourself is never selfish. I’m much better at prioritizing myself – I sleep more, I set boundaries, I know it’s ok to say no – and people who are really important to me than before. I feel like I’m also a lot less self-aware when I was 40, which is one of the reasons I started playing ballet again for the first time after college. –Lynne G., Lake Arrowhead, CA.

I didn’t become a stereotype.

I had my fourth child when I was 42 – while working as a partner in a law firm – and “bounced back” just fine. So many of those 40-year-old stereotypes are BS. Two years later, I feel pressure to do something wrinkled and gray, but I’m also, fuck, I’m a lawyer, and it’s not my job to be beautiful every single day! I bought Frownies and Retinol Cream, but I forget to use them. –Elizabeth M., Allentown, PA

I moved to Paris.

Forty seemed to have the deadline to get married and have children. And when I reached that milestone as a single and the world wasn’t over yet, I had the opportunity to rewrite my future. That summer I went on a trip west with my dog. And that fall, I moved to Paris to satisfy a desire that had grown over the past several years. Turning 40 years really helped me start my life for me, not based on social impact. –Jessica C., Tulsa, OK

More lifestyle guidelines for and from 40s:

16 Women Share How Their Life Changed (Or Didn’t) After 40 Source link 16 Women Share How Their Life Changed (Or Didn’t) After 40

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