Mid/late 20s bodies change
January 26, 2015 8:31 AM   Subscribe

When I was about 20 I had an performing arts teacher who told me that my body was going through some important metamorphosis, and that another important transformation will occur when I am 27. Well, I'm now 29, and I think I have observed that transformation in myself and in many of my close friends...

The transformation, as I observe, is really quite spectacular, and often makes the difference between a kid and a fully-fledge, beautiful, radiant adult. Usually people's faces change a little bit, and the really skinny kids fill out or the chubby kids lean out. I watch friends go through this, and am just in awe. Is this a thing? Where do I find more information (what search keywords)? I am so fascinated!
posted by redwaterman to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
That's when you achieve peak physical fitness because you are producing optimal levels of hormones (some social/time-constraint reasons as well.) Based on googling, those terms aren't terribly helpful, but they do get some results that explain more.
posted by michaelh at 8:39 AM on January 26, 2015

You'll maybe find more on this in endocrinological literature. In the grand cycle of reproductive life, this is the point where puberty has finally completed. You see it about every 10 years, though various factors start to intervene more as we age.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:49 AM on January 26, 2015

Best answer: Well, I don't know if this is a hormonal change, but perhaps there's a lot of lifestyle factors that accumulate by this point. More work hours, less energy and drive to exercise in some. Fat people could decide to start taking better care of themselves. Thin people might stop being inherently thin. You might move to Belgium and find it difficult to resist eating chips with mayonnaise after work every day, because your new job is stressful but well paid, and you love chips. So there's a lot of factors knocking around.
posted by The River Ivel at 8:52 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know exactly what you are talking about! I find women are their most gorgeous in their 30s because they lose the "kid look" and really grow into their faces in a way that is both mature and radiant. But my guess is also its a growth hormone thing - people's faces grow all throughout their lives, especially nose & ears.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:00 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, the skin on our faces gets thinner and lends to more angularity than when we have our kiddish puppy fat.
posted by discopolo at 9:41 AM on January 26, 2015

I think it happens at several times in our lives. There's a change about 45. There's another at about 60-65. Another at 80.

I think I've heard this kind of thing called the transitional ages.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:42 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hit my peak attractiveness a couple of weeks before my 27th birthday. I was secretly dating my now-wife, who was a coworker at the time, and a guy bought me a drink right in front of her at Oktoberfest.

September 12, 2007. Never forget.
posted by Oktober at 9:44 AM on January 26, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I definitely hit my peak attractiveness between 27 and 31; with some variation in the specific years, I've noticed a similar trend in most of my friends. Also, after being a kind of doughy teen/young adult, when I hit 27 I suddenly had the stereotypical "teen" metabolism for the first time ever! I ate nothing but ice cream and pizza for two years and *lost* 30 lbs. Sadly, that part went away pretty much the minute I turned 32. Sigh.

For whatever reason, the dudes I know tend to skew 2-3 years later but they definitely do the same thing--my brother recently turned 30 and looks, suddenly, markedly different and more adult. For the first time I can't look at him and automatically superimpose his 9-year-old face. Pictures of my boyfriend from 3-4 years ago look like a teenage person; he definitely does not look adolescent anymore.

Another weird thing: around 29-30, I also went abruptly from resembling my father to resembling my mother. Which wasn't bad--she's a lovely woman--but it really did a number on me to look at photographs from college, when my father's face was staring back at me, and then at recent photos, where it's definitely my mother's face (albeit with my dad's dark hair and eyes).

I dunno what causes it; some of it certainly must be biological and/or hormonal, because all the lifestyle changes in the world won't alter the shape of a person's nose, and my nose is definitely different than it used to be.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:08 AM on January 26, 2015

Anecdata from the other side: I'm 35, and look about like I did at 22 with slightly older skin. I got hips when I was around 20, but I've been about the same since. My collarbones are a little less prominent, but I attribute that to bad posture. I think this does happen in a number of cases, though. I certainly noted it in my ex-husband.

(As regards hormone changes affecting nose shape: my trans former roommate and I were looking through old photos of her from before she started transitioning and were fascinated to discover that her nose had indeed changed pretty drastically. I think she'd been taking hormones for a year or a year and a half at the time. That is definitely a thing.)
posted by Because at 10:27 AM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

//I think it happens at several times in our lives. There's a change about 45//

I hit that change last year, at 46. Your metabolism slows the fuck down and you suddenly gain 20 lbs in a year when you didn't do anything different than the prior 10 years. So now I have to do lots of things differently, like eat better, drink less, exercise, etc.
posted by COD at 10:33 AM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes! I noticed this about myself in the past couple years, where there's a very subtle change in how I look - but a change nonetheless, and one that gets me more compliments than I used to when I was 28-30. I'm 35 now.
posted by Everydayville at 3:58 PM on January 26, 2015

I think this is more cultural or circumstantial than you are perceiving. By mid/late 20s most modern Western people have completed education, probably have some solidified career direction, and are likely looking for a long-term mate. Dress changes accordingly, as does the way a person carries him or herself. Taken together, this makes it seem like a sudden change has occurred, but it is much more likely due to changed cultural identity. We look and act like society expects us to.
posted by deathpanels at 7:06 PM on January 26, 2015

Best answer: I mean, just consider how fluid the idea of adulthood has been in history for copious examples of how our notions of maturity are socially constructed. Childhood is, for example, largely an invention of the industrial labor movement; children worked the fields in the 16th century, and girls as young as 13-14 were considered marriageable women.

It is also a common myth that people's bodies change radically, as in some of the anecdotes given here. Metabolism does generally decline with age but not in sudden cliff-drops that correspond with socially important birthdays, e.g. 25, 30, 40, and it tends to be a result of a cumulative effect. I.e., people who eat lots of pizza and beer have a slow metabolism because duh, you will have slow digestion if you eat pizza and beer all the time; likewise, people who choose this diet are less likely to get regular exercise or train as athletes; and people who choose high fat diets often have sedentary jobs, which correlate with age, older people being more likely to have a desk job. So there is a kernel of truth, but it's mostly all smoke and mirrors. The "my metabolism is slowing down" line is a common defensive refrain to dismiss loss of general physical fitness caused by diet and lifestyle choices. Sorry, that's the truth. Take it from this former "slow metabolism" sufferer, you have way more control over your body than you think!
posted by deathpanels at 7:32 PM on January 26, 2015

people who choose this diet are less likely to get regular exercise or train as athletes;

Ok, not to be a smart arse or anything but I just had to link this here: Michael Phelps diet, 2008.
posted by glasseyes at 4:18 PM on January 27, 2015

Comparing an average person to Michael Phelps is like comparing your 2004 Toyota Tercel to a space shuttle.
posted by deathpanels at 11:33 PM on February 5, 2015

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