Is 40 really the new 30?
I've heard it said that 40 is the new 30. I disagree. I think 40 is the new 40. The generation of women and men currently turning 40 have outlooks and attitudes to life far removed from those of a generation ago. They look different and they act differently.
A great number of today's 40-somethings are at a different life stage to the 40 somethings of yesteryear. I remember when my parents' generation started turning 40. The most likely lighthearted comment scribed on a card was "Life begins at 40!" And for many of them the idea, if not the reality was pretty spot on; if not grown up, the children of the Baby Boomer generation had children who were well on their way to being grown up. 40 really did signify a time for new beginnings. A time to move on from the all-consuming role of parenting young children.
The new 40-something parent – or non-parent
This isn't so much the case for the generation currently arranging their big four O celebrations. With nearly half of all births now being to mothers over the age of 30, many 40-somethings have children still at primary school or nursery. Then there's the growing number of parents having their first child at 40+.
There's also a growing number of 40-somethings who, either through design or the way life has panned out, don't have children. The number has almost doubled since the 90s, with one in five 45 year old women without children, according to ONS statistics in 2013. Another reason 40-somethings can't be pigeon-holed into the middle aged mould of generations gone by.
40-something is a marketeer's dream
Marketeers are starting to home in on the 40-something market in the same way that the 30-something market became a prime target almost 20 years ago. I remember that time well. I was fresh out of college and working on a magazine which was at the time being repositioned to target 30-something women – 'women who juggle their lives' was the magazine's strapline. Everyone wanted a piece of the 30-something consumer pie.
40+ celebrities aren't fading away as they once would have. 40-something men are still playing action heroes and female 40-somethings are positively young upstarts next to 50-something Madonna. It isn't just down to cosmetic surgery and injectables allowing them to 'get away with playing younger'. It's down to the fact that these 40-something celebrities still hold relevance for a vast swathe of consumers hungry for great entertainment.
40 not out
A life used to be counted as three score years and ten. It's no longer the case. Life expectancy is going up and up. It's not so crazy to imagine huge numbers of us living healthily well into our 90s and beyond. 40 no longer defines a life stage, it's just another birthday, admittedly one with plenty of birthdays that have gone before it. But also one with plenty of birthdays ahead of it.
So, if 40 is looming large in your near future, fear not. 40 is something to be celebrated, not commiserated.
Luci is London blogger and a full-time mum of one daughter aged 3 and a half and also a WAHM - yes, that's right, there aren't enough hours in the day to do both.
Blogs at: Mother.Wife.Me