There are a lot of things that are unfair in this world and one of them is growing up, in the most general sense. Youth is certainly wasted on the young.
Speaking of youth, there are a lot of youth-related things that are projected on and expected of women more so than men, even as they age. Turning 30 is a milestone for everyone, but modern women facie so much pressure from every direction to do and be everything.
Lighten that load on the women in your life turning 30 by not saying any of the following as she enters her third decade:
1. “You look so young!”
Comparing a woman’s actual age with a remark about how young she looks as a compliment is tricky. In so many ways, it is nice to say and hear. But at the end of the day, it just reenforces the strange idea that we should look younger than we are.
2. “Do you want to have kids yet?”
Fertility is a real thing that does indeed stop for a woman at a certain age. This can be a sensitive issue for those who do want kids, but haven’t had them for one reason or another. This can sound like an off-putting assumption to those who have chosen to not have kids. And this can seem totally irrelevant for women who are focusing on other things.
3. “You’ll meet the right person soon.”
Turning 30 is not some landmark event for which everyone needs to have a date. Partners come in and out of lives no matter the age. Making remarks about a person’s single-hood at 30 just adds to the notion that we all need to pair up or we'll be alone forever.
4. “It’s all downhill from here.”
No, it’s really not. Thirties are a particularly energized and ambitious time for a lot of people. Naivety is not to be envied; the romanticization of the young and the innocent is a concept best kept in fiction. In real life, knowledge – which comes with age – is a good thing.
5. “Do you feel sad about turning 30?”
This question might as well be rhetorical because even if you’re asking in earnest, the question itself presumes that the twenties are something to be mourned. Repeat after me: age ain’t nothin’ but a number.
6. “You’re all grown up now!”
I happened to be pregnant when I turned 30. Unlike pressuring women who are childless to start tuning into their biological clocks, I received some remarks about how I was doing things in the “right order.” One friend even called me “so domestic.”
There is no right order! If you’re not married or a parent by the time you’re 30, that’s perfectly alright. Don’t use someone else’s 30th birthday as an opportunity to pretend you’re more progressive via a veiled insult about domesticity.
7. “NOW you’re in your sexual prime!”
People talk a lot about sexual peaks and primes, but everyone is different and you’re in charge of your own sexuality. And guess what? Your sexuality doesn’t need to be a conversation topic at your birthday party.
8. “It’s a good thing you did so much in your twenties!”
I did a lot in my twenties and I’m proud of that, but remarks like this one sound a little bit like, “I’m glad you accomplished things while you still could.”
9. “Do you feel like a woman now?”
Women turning 30 have been “women” for a while. To think of women in their twenties as girls is to chip away at their agency.
Wondering what you should say to a woman on her 30th birthday?
Try this: “Happy Birthday!"