A Woman's Life, As Told Through Scientific Studies
Every week brings a slew of research aiming to shed light on how women can live their healithiest, most fulfilling lives. String some recent studies together and you get a life that looks something like this.
AGE 6: Start seeing yourself as a sex object.
Sexiness is key to a woman's life, partly because its significance becomes apparent to us at the age of 6. In a recent study, girls ages 6 to 9 were shown pictures of two dolls, one dressed in revealing clothing and the other in a conservative outfit, and asked which one they most identified with. Sixty-eight percent of the 60 girls surveyed said they wanted to look like the sexy doll, wearing a belly-baring slightly Gothic Dancing With the Stars-esque look. And 72 percent of those surveyed said that doll was more popular than the other, which wore cargo jeans and a long-sleeved tee-shirt. To be fair, the possibility remains that they were just really turned off by the idea of the cargo jeans.
AGES 16 - 30: Consider keeping panty liners (or diapers) within reach at all times.
In a study of 1,002 women aged 16 to 30 who had never been pregnant, more than 12 percent experienced urinary incontinence. This suggests childless women experience urinary incontinence at the same rate as those who have given birth. I guess Snooki and JWOWW have proven as much to the world, thanks to their perplexing, continued presence on national television. Maybe all those times they peed on outdoor decks had something to do with a medical issue instead of them just being huge messes.
AGE 28: Feel your sexiest.
This revelation comes thanks to a study of 2,000 women. This study also revealed: "The body part women are most proud of is their eyes, with 23 per cent feeling that they are their best physical attribute. Twenty per cent opted for their breast, with brains coming in third (13 per cent)."
AGE 32 OR 35: Feel the most confident.
Thanks to the vast amount of research on when women, like our dear Leah Michele here, feel the best about themselves, we have conflicting information on when we peak in this area. One UK-based study suggests that confidence peaks at age 35, while the study that reported we feel sexiest at age 28 found that confidence peaks at age 32. So anyway, if you're not 30 yet and not excited about it you may feel slightly less sexy than you do in your 20s but confident enough in yourself that you probably won't care about your sexiness much anyway.
MIDLIFE: Drink to be healthier in old age.
Women who have one or two drinks a day in the middle of their lives are likely to be healthier in old age than those who don't booze. (Though the American Heart association recommends women not exceed one drink a day.) According to the Wall Street Journal, "women drinking most days of the week were more likely to be healthier than women who drank one or two days a week." However, that's only when drinking in moderation (binge drinking just twice a month could dramatically increase your chance of Alzheimer's, other research shows). However, one medical professional studying the effects of booze notes that walking for 30 minutes a day is more beneficial to a lady's health than drinking.
AGE 40: Have kids to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.
It may be harder for women to get pregnant as we near 40, but some research suggests having kids at 40 and older comes with benefits: women who gave birth over the age of 40 were 44 percent less likely to have endometrial cancer — which develops in the lining of the uterus — than women who had a kid for the last time at age 25 or younger. Also, women who have their last kid between ages 35 and 39, have a 32 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer compared with those who deliver their last kid at 25 or younger; women whose last birth occurs between ages 30 and 34 have a 17 percent lower risk of developing the cancer compared with the 25-year-old moms.
AGE 40: Mammogram time commences for high-risk women.
Various medical organizations have offered conflicting information over the years on when women should start getting regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer — some said age 40, while age 50 was most commonly recommended. However two studies that came out in the spring suggest women facing an increased breast cancer risk start getting mammograms at age 40. Risks associated with mammograms include radiation exposure and false positive tests, so women have to weigh risks and benefits that come with the procedure carefully with their doctors.
AGE 40: Start prioritizing daughter over husband.
An analysis of more than two billion calls and half a million text messages led researchers to conclude that as women age their daughters become their closest confidantes, as opposed to their husbands, who continue to communicate the most intimately with their wives. Women focus most on their romantic partners until they turn 27, roughly, and start really shifting attention away from their significant others when they reach 40 with the mother-daughter relationship peaking at age 60. The study does not explain if this has anything to do with subjects' spouses being text-phobes and the moms, being text-philes, just wanting to text someone who grasps that technology the way they do.
AGE 74: Feel your happiest.
Think about it: you probably won't be working; your Ikea furniture will have been upgraded long ago; you may get to enjoy children as though they belong to you without them actually being your kids (read: grandchildren); and you'll have time for those hobbies you printed out and never got around to when you were younger, like mason jar DIYs. Studies reveal women get happier from their teens until they reach 40, happiness levels off until about age 46, and then women get happier until they reach 74.
So despite how badly we want to be hot, sexy, and wrinkle-free all our lives, an age widely seen as not sexy at all may end up being the very best of them all. So if you're not there yet you have a lot to look forward to with age.