"Forty is the new thirty" origin?

Does anyone know this expression’s origin? I understand the concept, I’m just wondering who said it first.

It’s just a specialisation of “X is the new Y”, which AFAIK began with “(color) is the new black”, in fashion magazines etc.

It’s such a hackneyed expression that Private Eye magazine has a column called “The Neophiliacs” devoted to sightings of this kind of thing in the media.

I just saw an article on MSN that said FIFTY was the new 30.

I’d guess the root of it has to do with better health and longer life expectancies. If life expectancy increases by 10 years, then I guess it’s fair to say that 40 is the new 30 in the sense that they are both the same distance from the end of the road.

US and European life expectancies have not increased by 10 years in my lifetime.

When I was a teenager, in the 1970s, an athletic and handsome late-30s friend of mine once gave me a ten-minute life lesson on what it was like to be his age. It was spot-on, though -as he warned me at the time- I wouldn’t “get it” until I approached that age. Part of his lesson was that people enter “middle age” at vastly different times (the terms “young”, ‘middle-aged’, “old” and “elderly” had somewhat different meanings back then -at least in my eyes, and what I gleaned from the media). Some people marry, gain weight, lose hair, become complacent, or turn permanently rigid as early as their late 20s. As a young, wealthy 38-43 year old, clinging to his combat military self-image, this frightened him in ways I didn’t understand until I was a similar age

[My father was an old fossil by 30. If anything, he loosened up slightly in his 50s and considerably around 60, but as his mental abilities degrade in his 70s, it’s remarkably evident that his underlying “grumpy old man” fossilized early, and his later loosening up was a mrere add- on. Even he seems sometimes surprised by how his formerl “grumpy old man” emerges as a default value under stress. He also often expresses shock that I am so much more capable than he was at the same age, and yet ‘younger’. To him, and perhaps his generation, getting old (mentally and physically) was a mark of growing up and becoming mature. I call them “the Oscar Madisons” after the “never grew up” hard-drinking, womanizing unfit irresponsible thirty-something character in the “Odd Couple” TV show – played, not coincidentally, by a fifty-something actor who looked fiftyish. Oscar Madison was my childhood glimpse into adult expectations of aging back then)

Even then, the sentiment that “40 is the new 30” was well established. The catchphrase back then was “life begins at 40”. We had MILFs, to be sure, but there seems to be a difference. Many more look younger or attractice to younger eyes than 30 years ago, but the number who look old or unattractive really hasn’t changed much. T change seems to lie mostly in he fraction in the border region (other factors, like the decrease in chain smoking, and attention to UV exposure may also have played a role.)

Increased functional health and social options are major elements – their increase is well documented in the literature. It’s also useful to note that those who came of age inthe 1950s were pressed into marriage half a decade earlier than their counterparts in the 1930s – or 1830s! This slavish adherence to false “traditional values” that would have been alien to their parent’s generation (and earlier), is the real root of the divorce boom in the 1970s (Numerically most divorcees in the late 1970s/early 1980s were empty nesters, not young people seduced by the “sagging morality of the 1960s”. “Middle age attitudes” were expected early, too, which is why “Never trust anyone over 30” was a youth motto in the 60s/70s.

Demographically, most people in their 30s-50s are indeed middle aged, but a highly visible and sizeable minority are not, just as a majority of Americans are somewhat overweight (and about a third are medically obese) but a large and visble minority pay serious attention to diet and fitness, with highly visible results. In both marketing and medicine, we make distinctions between the “young old” and the “old old” at every stage of the late adult life cycle.

It may be less of an empty slogan than it was 30 years ago [I think that few people are completely shocked by “GILFs” (grandmas) anymore, but “grandma” was once almost an irrefutable marker of old age.], but too many people still age prematurely. The life expectancy the morbidity tables may not have advanced by a full decade, but the dichotomy is starker between the well-preserved and the aging seems starker today.

I encourage everyone to keep an eye towards the commonsense measures that slow aging. I can’t imagine that you won’t thank yourself later for it


Bolding added.

Let me try to get this thread back on track. The examples that KP gives, “life begins at 40” and “MILF,” aren’t anonymous, untraceable catchphrases. Life Begins at Forty was the title of a book by Columbia professor William Pitkin, published in 1932, which contained this memorable passage:

Life Begins at Forty was also a song written by Jack Yellen and Ted Shapiro, recorded by Sophie Tucker in 1937; and the title of a bestselling book by Ann Burkitt, Life Begins at Forty: How to Make Sure You Enjoy Middle Age, published in 1977.

“MILF” comes from (or at least was popularized by) the movie American Pie (1999), as this thread explains.

I’m looking for a comparable citeable source, preferably a seminal one, for “forty is the new thirty.”

Excellent. Took me a minute, but I gotta remember that one!


Probably “Sex and the City”