Haaaay laaaadies: Perhaps you have seen this Glamour list, “Turning 30: 30 Things Every Woman Should Have And Should Know”?
Originally written by Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997, and recently reposted online, this two-part guide covers all the important aspects of being a functional member of adult society and also a female person, from making sure you own “a bag you're not embarrassed to carry” to having a working knowledge of “why they say life begins at 30.”
That’s not to say that women are less ambitious (obviously false) or don’t value guidance on how to build confidence and define their goals (other points on The List). But maybe presenting life advice in the form of a 30-point checklist — one that assumes that if you’re not in a position to purchase your own expensive furniture and occasional “ridiculously expensive” treats, that you’re not doing this whole being-a-woman thing right — maybe isn’t the best way to reach their target demographic.
So: Is this a helpful list to assist ladies approaching the dreaded 3-0? A super handy compilation of all the ways we should be comparing ourselves to our apparently more-put-together peers? Backhandedly empowering spins on substantive points?
This list could not point out more that being 30 (and the dynamic, turbulent road to that age) today is far different than it was even 10 years ago.
First and foremost, why is there nothing on this list about the value of education? If there's anything I could credit for my self-awareness and way about the world, that has helped in both business and relationships, it would be my education; the investment that my schools, my parents and, ultimately, that I myself put into my learning.
Real talk? While it’s fun, easy, lighthearted reading intended for the masses, to me, the list reinforces the largest insecurity that I want to render impotent in the short time remaining before I’m 30: Comparison. Stop stacking yourself and your successes (or failures) up against those of your coworkers, your partners, your partners' exes, your parents, your idols or your friends.
Do I panic that I don’t “know how I feel about children” yet? Sometimes, and mostly because of generalizations like this list. But am I glad I have real-life women that I respect (love you, Mom) to remind me I’m allowed to make my own decisions? Definitely. So, take the few solid points you want from it for bathtub reading (“When to try harder, and when to walk away;” “One friend who always makes you laugh, and one who lets you cry”), but leave the I-am-a-woman-thus-I-fit-one-mold garbage behind with your scrunchie from 1997.
I don’t hate the entire list, just the tone of it. To me, it’s a Pinterest-perfect perpetuation of the societal ideals that I’ve been trying to escape since I was 17. It’s also a reminder of why I don’t subscribe to Glamour and spend my free time with The Hairpin instead.
There’s definitely merit in aiming to broadly empower a near-30 female generation, but does that empowerment really come in the form of lingerie and a decent piece of furniture? I guess for some it does, but I remain perfectly content with hand-me-down furniture (and bras for that matter).
I don’t own a cordless drill (mine has a cord and I stole it from my mother) but I do know how to use it. And each time I move, alone (with my old, used furniture in tow), I use it — by myself! — to hang curtains and the occasional (also family-owned) painting.
And that to me is a more accurate measure of being an independent woman — something never outwardly stated in The List — than any “something perfect to wear” or purse that I’m not ashamed to be seen carrying.
I don't feel particularly equipped to comment on what women my — or any — age should or should not be doing. An only child who's always tended to have more bro than lady friends, and an almost-28-year-old who pretty much juuuuust figured out what really makes me happy, I've always felt a little out of the loop w/r/t where I stand on the road to 'real' adulthood.
After initially reading the list and knowing its original context, I wasn’t too bothered by its broad-stroke generalizations and somewhat hokey benchmarks of adulthood: “By 30, you should have a decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.”
Let’s just take, for example, #3: “By 30 you should have something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.”
Come on now — we aren’t just dolls, waiting to be groomed for the approval of a boss or a man. And it’s 2012, shouldn’t we be encouraging one another to be that employer, not simply to know how to impress them? Maybe it’s a verbiage nitpick, but I think the underlying assumptions are skewed and outdated. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion and everything it stands for – but at its core, it’s a mode of self-expression and individuality.
However, despite the gripes I may have with individual mandates, there is a consistent message that I am 100 percent okay with supporting: Be confident in who you are, what you stand for and what you want out of your own journey.
I had a hard time connecting with this Turning 30 list. Probably for the same reason I don't usually read Glamour, or Cosmo or any other women’s magazine where the cover usually reads: “4 out of 5 Guys agree….” Or “29 Things he’s thinking when you’re naked.”
I come from immigrant parents who worked tirelessly to give me the life I have. They’ve instilled in me the value of hard work, though that may seem like the biggest cliché. But I honestly believe if I work hard enough — both in my personal and professional life — I can be where I want to be. So it’s not necessarily an age thing for me, and it’s not something I feel like some list should tell you —where you “should” or “shouldn’t” be.
That’s not to say I don't have my own list. I do and I worry about it. I plan on how to accomplish my goals and where I think I should be at any given time in my life. But you can bet owning an umbrella I'm not ashamed to have will not be on it that list — if it works, I'll be proud to carry anything around that keeps me dry.
I do see the value on certain points on the list, mostly the ones that revolve around being happy with yourself, your past and knowing what you want in your future. But “having a black lace bra and a set of screwdrivers”? Come on. What about knowing what to do with those screwdrivers, how to fix things and be self-sufficient?