No one knows what a 37-year-old woman is supposed to look like.

Think of a 37-year-old woman.

What does she look like? Does she have smile lines? Does she have acne? Grey hairs? Crystal clear skin? 

The correct answer is... probably yes.

But it seems people are verrrry confused about what a woman this age can look like. 

Especially when it comes to Nicola Coughlan

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Video via Netflix.

The actress is starring in the upcoming (and most anticipated) third season of Bridgerton where she plays Penelope Featherington in her early 20s.

She's also in the new Stan series Big Mood where she plays a 30-year-old and stars in Derry Girls (my favourite) playing Clare, an extremely funny high schooler. 

And while Coughlan is on a global press tour for one of the biggest Netflix franchises in the world, her age has become the focus. 

It all started with a tweet: "The other day I looked up her age because I was rewatching Derry Girls and I assumed she was 19-21 when they filmed and maybe in her mid 20s now. This queen is 37 years old." 


This information sent people into a frenzy. 

The general consensus is that people can't believe Coughlan is 37 because she looks so "young." 

There's, of course, no issue with thinking that a woman is younger than her actual age. Personally, I'd welcome that assumption and I'm sure others would, too. 

The issue is that no one actually knows what a 37-year-old woman is supposed to look like these days. 

Carey Mulligan is another famous actor who took people by surprise when they found out she was also in her late 30s. For her, however, it went the opposite way with people assuming she is now much older. 


As harmful as the above tweet sounds, the influence of Hollywood has conditioned us to think that we should all be striving to look like we're perpetually in our 20s. When we don't abide by those rules, people get confused. 

In Nicola Coughlan's case, it's now evident that if we abide by those rules but don't look like we're trying to abide by those rules, people are still confused.


Basically, no one in their 30s looks like they're expected to look anymore. 

It's also important to note that the way a woman looks in her 30s is also heavily influenced by the stage of life society expects from her at that age. 

Coughlan has never publicly spoken about being in a relationship, doesn't have children and has only "made it" in recent years. So it's very likely the public's shock of finding out her age doesn't just stem from the way she looks, but from an unconscious bias about the lifestyle we expect from 37-year-old women. 

Couglan herself has even been surprised by the discourse. 

"It’s super funny to me to see that [reaction] because I’ve never hidden my age," she told Teen Vogue while on her publicity tour in Australia. 

And funnily enough, the actress missed out on roles early in her career for the opposite reason. 

"They said I was too old, and I was in my late 20s then, which is so sad that that would be considered 'too old'," she said. 

"In acting it’s all about suspension of disbelief. I always use the same comparison: Ian McKellen isn’t a wizard. I’m not a 19-year-old aristocrat from the 19th century. It’s all made up." 

It's no wonder we're all confused about getting older! 

Feature image: Getty/Netflix/Stan. 

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