STYLE

Is 29 The New Over The Hill?

04/04/2011 15:47 | Updated 22 May 2015

Over the last few weeks thousands of Britons have been sharing their personal definitions of happiness as part of the Government's project to gauge the nation's well-being.

Somewhat surprisingly most of the suggestions have been non-materialistic revealing the nation's deep appreciation for the simple pleasures in life: living near a park or the smell of a freshly opened jar of coffee.

However, the most striking definition of happiness was 'being content with one's situation'.

Well, according to new research from Lancaster University, that treasured feeling of contentment leaves huge swathes of women at the tender age of 29.

That's right: 29. Researchers found that a quarter of women in the UK consider themselves old at 29 and 'over the hill' at the first signs of ageing. Grey hairs, slightly droopy boobs and a few little wrinkles, are enough to kill that sense of self-contentment for a quarter of this country's women.

The same study, (commissioned by Avalon Funeral Plans you will be happy to hear), found that the majority of men tend to think they are young until they turn the ripe age of 58.

Wonderfully men still think they are youthful until they can no longer perform in the bedroom and refuse to have their mental age defined or even influenced by their looks. How old they feel is defined completely by their sexual prowess.

While in other context that mindset could be blamed for lots of ill in society, for once that type of caveman mentality should be celebrated – and actually adopted by women everywhere.

Professor Cary Cooper, a psychologist from Lancaster University, blamed women's feelings on societal and media pressures to look attractive and 'presentable'.

"Men don't have to be good looking but, for some reason, it's important for women to look presentable. Magazines are all about youth and are filled with young, attractive women," Cooper explained.

"Women then start to perceive themselves as old when they no longer feel like this, when they don't feel trendy or fashionable. Men, on the other hand, don't have to be good looking, it doesn't concern them."

He added: "At 30 women have matured, they're expected to think about getting married and starting a family. While the majority of men are much more career orientated - they don't feel old until they've reached retirement age." Great stuff.

Women need to now start connecting the dots. They can't be saying one thing to the Government about what makes them happy in life, and then fail to make sure these factors are present in their own lives.

The media's preference for younger and more desirable women is unlikely to change. However, women, like men, do have the option to throw caution to the wind and measure their youth by their capabilities.

As we get better in our jobs and relationships through the wisdom age brings, women and men alike should be embracing life beyond their twenties, not feeling hard done by it.

The Prime Minister David Cameron wants to measure the nation's happiness so that he can improve the UK's collective well-being. Regardless of how tough a task he has set himself, the job is made pretty much impossible if women beat themselves up as they enter what should be their prime.

Emma Barnett is the Digital Media Editor of The Daily Telegraph. She writes about media, culture, technology and social issues and has a monthly column in The Sunday Telegraph. Emma is also a broadcaster, regularly contributing to BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service, Sky News, CNN and LBC. Additionally she has written for The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire Magazine, TimeOut London, The Stage Newspaper and Media Week. She can be found tweeting via @emmabarnett.

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