In the 2008 Sex and the City movie, Carrie Bradshaw, 40 years old, gets engaged to longtime love Mr. Big. The editors at Vogue offer to photograph her in various wedding dresses. Enid, her editor at Vogue, tells her that the feature will be called “The Last Single Girl.”
“Well, I’m hardly the last single girl,” Carrie exclaims.
Editor Enid replies “No, but 40 is the last age a woman can be photographed in a wedding gown without the unintended Diane Arbus subtext.”
Is Enid implying that the last age a woman is able to wear in a fluffy, tulle-skirted wedding dress is at 40? Should brides mute their celebratory looks for something more matronly?
And what if we’re not even close to being ready to getting married? What if we’re over 40 and there’s no proposals on the horizon? Should we just erase any current Pinterest hopeful board of wedding dresses and begin a new one entitled “the older bride”?
(By the way… this is what a screenshot of an “older bride” search looks like on Pinterest. It looks quite Vogue-worthy to me. And none of these women look like “Old Maids” or “Last Single Girls.”)
So…Does Any of This Matter?
Let’s step away from weddings because I’m sure many of us reading this aren’t ready to get married in the immediate future. We wonder if society thinks that single women over 40 have transition themselves from vibrant young women to “Old Maids”. We often inappropriately believe ourselves a rare breed because we didn’t conform to society’s limited expectations and marry before 40.
Yes, there have been times when I feel like I’m the LAST SINGLE GIRL – especially before I met my current boyfriend. I celebrated my 40th birthday dateless, surrounded by fabulous friends, and filled with a spirit that was well-younger than 40.
See… This is not a girl who was ready to move into the Old Maid category.
I do look at the lives of my friends, and I’m definitely one of the few never-married single girls. To see and embrace yourself as one of the LAST SINGLE GIRLS is a difficult realization. Maybe you’ll think to yourself “When did this happen? What did I do to arrive at this place now that I’m over 40?”
And, if you’re anything like me, you may look around most churches you’ve attended and feel like the LAST SINGLE GIRL in the church and most contexts in your life… most of the time at least.
I imagine that there will be some of you reading this who feel like the LAST SINGLE GIRL in the world, in the church, in their group of friends and in their families.
It goes without saying… in reality, you are not the LAST SINGLE GIRL. Hardly! We are out there in steady numbers! We are no longer old maids. We are no longer alone. We are valid just attempting to live life as fully as possible. No one is worth any less because of their marital status.
As a clergy member and person who often writes about being a single progressive Christian, I will meet people who have never been married or married around 40 or later. There are people in our churches who are single of all ages – from 22 to 40 to 65. And each person is where they are right now for better or worse. They tell me their stories of meeting their spouse a little later down the road and the bliss of finding a healthy relationship when the time – and their lives – were just right.
It’s not our job as churches to segregate THE LAST SINGLE GIRLS from the rest of our church. But it’s our job to walk along side of people to bring them comfort in their current status. It’s our responsibility to integrate them into church life, worship and activities. And it’s our call to hope with our unmarried sisters and brothers if they yearn to meet a partner in the future.
In the near future, it’s my intention to read the book All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister. For more reflections based on the book and how it may impact the way communities of faith relate to unmarried persons, follow me here at michelletorigian.com.
In the meantime, join the conversation on being unmarried and a progressive Christian here.