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becoming lady

One day, the information hits you like an anvil. I don’t know if it happens the first time you walk into a grocery store and the salesman, who is twice your age, tells you, “I have the sweet potato on sale, ma’am.” Or when you see that in the series Stranger Things, Winona Ryder, the rebellious girl from the movie Generation X, is now the tired mother of the protagonists (a somewhat real mother, luckily).

It is likely that this information reaches women who are teachers sooner, in the manner of a cruel and precocious privilege, when they go to a bar and meet their students, who greet them from afar while mumbling to each other.

The truth is that in a moment you understand that the girl you were when you were 20, if she met you today, would think that you were a grown-up lady.

In the comedy Welcome to 40 (perhaps Judd Apatow’s last great work, definitely actress Leslie Mann’s best), there is a scene in which an older woman says to the protagonist something like this: “One day you blink and another one is 80 years old.”

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Lie. You are not Gregorio Samsa one day and an insect the next. You don’t become a lady overnight, although you may notice it suddenly. You become a lady, you become one, happens through several chapters, like the narrative arc of the character of a series that renews seasons. And the metamorphosis does not have a gruesome result.

Describing the biological process is quite boring: the first gray hair (and the confusion between showing it off with pride or deciding to enter the endless loop of dyeing), the intolerance to certain foods, the titanic epic that involves going out for drinks and surviving the next day. .

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Phrases like “40 are the new 30” and nonsense like that have already been discarded. 40 is 40, then and now.

Mutations

There is something much more interesting in the path of mutation. Without wishing to create a self-help manifesto from a women’s magazine from the 1990s, there is a discreet charm in becoming a lady.

Firstly, you begin to travel (and enjoy) the dizzying path of impudence and impunity, the maximum degree of which comes in old age, with women who are little affected by the gaze of others. Wise advice that nonagenarians often give: “Do what you want.”

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Afterwards, you acquire a certainty: there is still time, but less than before. Therefore, why lose it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you want to use it to do something productive, but rather something important (on your new scale). This is how, little by little, the plants that previously did not grow even if you spoke to them now surround you, you learn their names, you steal segments to multiply them and you can spend hours contemplating your reign: a splendid garden.

You will also save yourself courtesy formulas and detours to select friendships and events. And the most wonderful thing in the world: you get rid of that disgusting anxiety of youth that whispered in your ear that you were always “missing something” (which invariably happened at the same moment, but in another place).

You discard the FOMO (fear of missing out) without much thought and it can be just as tempting to go to a concert on a Saturday or stay at home with a 1,500-piece puzzle.

It’s not like “You’ve already seen everything”, but at least you know that you’ve already seen enough to choose what to do and how, without getting carried away by the fleeting moments of the time.

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It is also a great time to appropriate terms that were used pejoratively. Resignify them, pierce their meaning until they change it, make them say something else.

For example, forgetting the infamous song Lady of the Four Decades that was popularized by a man of six decades to whom no one has yet written a song telling him how he should feel.

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You can, on the other hand, and to name just one thing, enjoy hearing the response “Yes, ma’am.” Music for the ears.

Brotherhood

Now you understand that the ladies’ brotherhood (defenestrated by stereotypes, commonplaces and derogatory comments) cared very little about all of this. Because they took refuge in this secret pact of Freemasonry. The rollers and the cart with wheels to go to the store were nothing more than clever tools of mass distraction.

That explains why you start to feel sorry for those kids on TikTok who explain how to become a millionaire in three clicks and, instead, you prefer to start following a group of three friends who are over 60 and create choreographies on the supermarket shelf.

Or why you look with maternal condescension at the girls and boys at the gym who still believe that you only have to develop strength, because you already know that strength without flexibility and balance is useless. It is the true transition from a padawan to a jedi in a parallel Star Wars universe.

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So you can accept the sweet potatoes from the greengrocer even if you don’t really know what they are or how the hell to cook them (in the combo of becoming a lady, Dona Petrona’s date doesn’t necessarily come) and you can continue watching Stranger Things to admire that Winona’s face has a subtle map of folds and wrinkles, but no acne.

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