< Back to front page Text size +

Is 27 the Perfect Age?

Posted by Josh Rothman  September 5, 2012 03:30 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Writing for The Awl, Adriane Quinlan contemplates being twenty-seven. According to the culture at large, she argues, twenty-seven is the “perfect” age—a moment when you’re just mature enough to be interesting, but still young enough to be glamorous. Her list of idolized twenty-seven-year-olds is pretty striking:

[E]verything America mythicizes and celebrates and destroys is twenty-seven and has always been twenty-seven: Ingrid Bergman, in Casablanca; Heather Graham, in Boogie Nights; Marilyn Monroe in Gentleman Prefer Blondes; Jemima Kirke, in “Girls”; and every other actress expected to be a sexual prize for the first 89 minutes and believably settled down in the final frame…. The twenty-seven-year-old can accomplish anything: Yuri Gagarin orbited at age 27; Flannery O’Connor published Wise Blood and Hemingway The Sun Also Rises—their debuts. Think of Ryan Lochte v. Michael Phelps just last month when both were 27, or LeBron James, 27.

An entire article in Esquire, she points out, was devoted to the twenty-seven-year-old woman. Ben and Jerry founded their ice-cream company when they were twenty-seven; Christian Grey, of the Fifty Shades, is a smoldering twenty-seven; Lisa del Giocondo, the model in the Mona Lisa, was likely twenty-seven when she posed. Perhaps because twenty-seven is the height of perfection, Quinlan writes, it’s also been mythologized as a moment of self-destruction (Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Robert Johnson are just a few of the musicians who’ve died at 27).

As a proud thirty-three-year-old, I can say with great certainty that twenty-seven is not the prime of life—though there’s plenty of room for debate about what the perfect age might be. Read the rest of Quinlan’s excellent essay at The Awl.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category