25 and past it? Miss World thinks so

BORN before 1986? Here’s some bad news – you’re over the hill.

That’s right. You may feel young, fit and healthy, but you’re already sliding into old age.

Marie Hughes rudely discovered this in recent days. She was Miss Ireland for all of 24 hours before it emerged that she was 25, too old to take part in the Miss World pageant. The beauty queen forfeited her title, with the crown going to the far more age-appropriate Rebecca Maguire (20).

Now not all of us take sociological instructions from a blinged-up Lovely Girls’ Contest.

But the Miss World rules are the latest example of our society’s obsession with youth. It’s clear that many people (99pc of them under 25 I bet) feel that hitting the quarter century means you’re past it.

For those of us long past the salad days of our mid-20s the point is moot. Thirtysomethings like me are – in pop culture terms at least – about as on trend as Victor Meldrew.

‘Who’s he?’, the kids ask. Never mind..

But the Youth of Ireland shouldn’t start celebrating just yet.

Medical journal The Lancet last week reported that adolescence may go on until 24. 

This all means that adulthood now lasts 12 months. What used to span a generation is now crammed into the 365 days between your 24th and 25th birthday. Blink and you miss it – and most of us probably did.

Now we struggle on, battling infirmity, into our 30s and beyond. Some of us – whisper it – even reach our 60s and 70s. Even more incredibly we still manage to lead normal lives. Who’d have thought it?

But as we get older we live and learn. And one of the things we discover is that nonsense rules laid down by beauty pageants are just that – nonsense.

Mind you, you don’t have to be over 25 to realise it.

This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, May 2, 2012.

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