Why All Women Should Abandon Their ‘Expiry’ Date

As a second-gen immigrant growing up in Australia, I can confidently say that I’ve felt the pressures that the Asian community places on women – directly from family and indirectly from outsiders. Watching the SK-II ‘The Expiry Date’ film resonated with me deeply on many levels because I’ve experienced it firsthand and watched others around me succumb to the societal pressures we place on one another.

From the ripe age of 4, I started learning my multiplication tables and by the age of 6 my parents had enrolled me in weekend coaching colleges. From then until my final high school examination, the focus was on achieving academic success. I was going to be a successful woman, climbing the corporate ladder and earning the “big bucks” after I graduate from university. In just my second year of completing my double degree in Actuarial studies and Applied Finance, I realised I wasn’t discovering a passion for the subjects. I asked my family if I could forego the actuarial element of my degree. The mere suggestion was out of the question, causing great uproar amongst my family. To satisfy their expectations, I kept with my degree unchanged. Three years of blood, sweat and tears later, I finally graduated. Hoorah.

Massa Lubrense, Italy, AmalfiNow it was time to chat about finding my potential life partner. He needed to be tall, at least 4 years older, handsome, no tattoos, holds a respectable career and established in life. I always thought it would be easier to get play dough and mold my own ‘perfect’ man. First relationship seemed promising when I travelled quite literally across the world to meet his family, and he mine. We all thought we would tie the knot and live happily ever after but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. On reflection, I think my family took it harder than I did. Why? It meant another year or two of waiting for the next one who could potentially be the father of their grandchildren. Fast-forward 3 years of relationships and on and off dating, I met another that I thought was the one. Without giving everyone the long winded saga, here is the abridged version – girl meets boy at a club in Shanghai, we fell in ‘love’ (or what they thought was love), got engaged after six months (at the request of mother dearest), boy relocates from China to Oz, we marry nine months later in Germany, return to Oz, and separate six months after due to irreconcilable differences.

Not surprising when the timeline of our relationship from the point we first laid eyes on each other to the point we parted ways was a total of only two and a half years. Why did I go through with it all? I had doubts even the night before I was to walk down that aisle in my beautiful Vera gown – but backing out wasn’t an option when I was going to let down a myriad of people in my immediate and extended family.

Until the age of 25 I was living the life that was expected of me by my family and the constant vocal reminder that no matter how attractive a woman is, they lose their worth after the age of 30 – and it’s game over if you go beyond 35. Heck, I still have friends who freak at the thought of being single at the age of 27 and not being able to ever find the right man.

SKII The Expiry Date Campaign

The moment in the film that got me thinking was when all three women realised that by changing the way they perceived their own worth and started thinking and living their lives for themselves was when they broke free of their figurative shackles. For me, that turning point was making the decision that I was unhappy in my marriage and decided to move away for a short period to de-clutter my life with unnecessary external pressures. I’ve never been happier with a decision that I’ve made. At first it was hard for my family to accept (I was called worthless at some point) but in time they’ve come around and agreed that I made the right decision. They’ve learnt to be happy for me because I’m doing things in my life that I would be proud to tell my children.

The past two years has been a focus for me to do things that make me happy and this included travelling to new places on my own, quitting the job that made my family so proud but was slowly draining the life out of me and started dating a man that quite literally gave my grandmother a heart attack after seeing how inked he was. I’m well into my 27th year of living and can proudly say that I don’t live with any regrets and encourage every young woman out there to leave behind this artificial storybook that they feel that they must achieve in life and just start living.

I’ve quite happily told my family that I’m more than content to live out my days single as long as staying single is what makes me happy. Of course I’m lucky to have found someone who does make me happy but there was never any pressure for me to do so.

How does everyone else feel about societal age-related pressure? 

#INeverExpire #ChangeDestiny #SKII #InPartnershipWithSKII

This post has been created in collaboration with SK-II. 

Helen

Helen Chik is a Sydney based fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle digital content creator and influencer sharing everything from unique style to her adventures around the world through her rainbow tinted lenses.

  • I’ve noticed in some of my friends the amount of pressure their families have been putting on them. Thankfully my family has been pretty laid back when it comes to me starting a family but I recently had one family member tell me I should get going on starting a family because my biological clock is running out (i’m 25). I nearly slapped him.

    https://dreamofadventures.com/

  • Marissa Pedersen

    I’ve seen my friends who are dating have a lot of pressure to get married now that they’re in their 30s because they need to buy a house and have kids now, according to society. Luckily they haven’t given in to society yet.

  • Christine

    I totally understand this SKii video and your feelings as being Asian myself we all have the same expectations set forth by our parents. I enjoyed hearing your story and your challenges and how you fought to become the woman you are today. We don’t need to live our lives for others but just for ourselves. I love this message and this campaign. xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

  • Britta Kongsdal Dobriner

    Helen the pressure you must have had on your shoulders is enormous! I am so happy you have decided to live your life to the fullest and not do what others expect from you.
    You are experiencing so much and getting married should not be the only thing we live for.
    I had been with my husband for 9 years before we got married. We did it because of love. Not because people expected it from us.
    Keep living your dream and be happy!

  • Aww, thanks a lot for sharing your story with us. That’s such a pressure, I could hardly imagine that. But you’re very brave even in this tiny gesture by sharing your personal experience. Here in Germany for example it’s kinda weird to get married before your early 30th, and to have kids before 35. I know the world is changing, so we all have to do the same. Never give up on your dreams.

    Cheers, Eliza | http://www.fashion-confession.com

  • Jennifer Quattrucci

    Dear Helen,
    Wow. I have never heard of these kind of expiry dates and it’s really brave and amazing that you shared this story. It’s similar to the Italian Culture, or the way it used to be for Italian girls. We were expected to marry young and all that. I really feel that you are such an extraordinary girl with such a creative flair and that this story will encourage so many to not fall into the ‘expiry’ trap or expectation.
    Yours truly,
    Jennifer

  • Kayla Hetherington

    I really enjoyed reading this! I totally do have this somedays and I’m only 24…. not that I want to Be married or have kids right now, burn it does kind of freak me out at the fact that I’m not dating anyone nor do I really have interest lol

  • Gina Diaz

    This is really incredible to learn about the expiry dates and what is expected. It is the first time I hear about this. Thank you for sharing your personal story with us and for being honest. Love this post very much and i find it very inspiring!

    xx. Gina

  • The expiry date is also kind of a thing in Russia. I’ve still met a lot of Russian girls whose goal in life seemed to be to get married and have a baby by age 25. I grew up in Canada so I didn’t feel the pressure as much, but every now and then my mom makes comments that make me know that she probably wishes I would get married and have a family even though she doesn’t outright say it. I think it’s awful, a woman’s priority should be making herself happy – whether that includes marriage and children or not.

  • Thank you so much for talking about this and being vulnerable and sharing your story! It is so true that we need to abandon these dates that society puts into our minds and then we put on ourselves. I’m so happy you’ve found that! Love your story xx, Erin – http://www.stylebythepeople.com

  • Jessie Li (4evajessie)

    I love SK-II collections!!! They are perfectly made for Asian skins. Love reading this post!!! I agree with you, haha… Sometimes, I feel like I’m never going to expire and I’m going to live this fab life surround by friends even when I’m 50 🙂 Age is just a number! It’s what we deeply believe that counts.

    xx, Jessie
    http://4evajessie.com/shenkin-hotel-tel-aviv/

  • Thomas Falkenstedt

    This is a subject I actually can relate to more than you think. As a gay man my expiry date has since long been gone. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I’m 36 years old, but look 22-25. So basically I look too young for those who want older guys and I’m too old (in numbers) to those who want someone younger. I’m like in a dead zone and either I should age faster than I do or then change my age in my passport, haha. As for societal pressure, I thankfully don’t give a damn. My parents nor my grandparents have never required either this or that from me and I’ve been free to do pretty much what I want as long as it makes me happy. If those choices were the right ones? Definitely not at all times, but at least the choices and mistakes in life were my own and boy have i learned from them. I’m glad to read you’re a strong, independent woman now and your story is really inspiring to a lot of people out there, especially of Asian heritage.
    Love,
    Thomas

    http://www.thomasfalkenstedt.com/

  • Bernice Abuan

    This blog post was so beautiful the way you’ve really opened up about yourself, and your perspective on how your life has been! I feel like I know you better like I never knew you were married! I definitely feel the pressure starting about having to reach certain milestones by a certain age. Ive set some expectations for myself about marriage, and children, and my career so I wonder how it’ll go.

    https://www.bunnybernice.com/single-post/2017/07/04/Gift-Guide-for-your-Bridal-Party-Customised-Compact-Mirrors-and-More

  • Wow what a raw and honest post! At 27 you’ve lived several lifetimes. Good for you for living your truth and doing it on your terms! But I hear you – I woke up nearly 40 and wondered what happened to my life – so I reinvented myself as a blogger. You’re still so young and so full of possibilities. Just take your time and be happy.
    XO
    http://www.lehoarder.com/

  • What an incredible, honest and wonderful post! Sometimes I think it’s more important to take care of your well-being and your mental health and happiness than to conform to societal “norms” and live a life that you are told is “best for you” because honestly, the only person who can decide what’s best for you is you.

    Ellie | http://www.scotchandstilettos.com

  • I love reading more personal stories about you like this one! It’s always fun getting to know more about you and your background and the more I read, the more I can relate! Just subscribed to your blog 🙂 Similar to you, my parents wanted me to become a doctor or something that guaranteed a stable/solid income, get a house, get married, etc. in a short time frame after graduating from college. Instead, after getting my degree, I worked a mundane day job for a year and decided that the 9-5 was not for me. I explored other options and finally found something that I love to do and somehow since then have been able to turn it into a career and for that, I’m really lucky. During the years of trials and tribulations it took me to even get where I am now, I didn’t have my parents’ support because they didn’t like what I was doing nor did they understand any of it really. Now that several years have passed and I’ve shown them that I can make a living doing what I love, they are happy for me, but the most important thing is that I’m happy! Now, my parents keep pestering me about when I’m going to get married (LOL) but I’m going to take my sweet time because there’s no need to rush into things like that 😉 I’m proud of you for also choosing a route that is worthwhile and fulfilling to you Helen! It’s so important to live life for you and not for anyone else. I look forward to seeing more of your fun travel adventures and stories like this one 🙂

    xo, sharon
    http://www.stylelullaby.com/fashion/desert-gypsy-vibes-macys-max-studio/
    @stylelullaby

  • I wrote a post on this exact thing as well!!! Indian culture is very similar in that way, there is so much pressure to settle down and find “the one”. I’ve been feeling so much pressure from my family and have told them that I am HAPPY being single. The problem is that they aren’t happy as long as I’m single lol Great post!

    http://www.stylebymemory.com

  • Melbourneyum

    I loved the SK11 video it was deep and moving I think as women society puts unrealistic pressure on where we should be at a certain age.
    Your story was really touching,the amount of pressure your family put you through,it must have been very stressful trying to live up to such high expectations.
    Why can’t our families just be happy that we are heathy and happy in our lives and that’s it,no you must marry this man do this career,because at the end of the day those things are not important it’s about who you are on the inside.And you are a strong independent intelligent woman and you would make anyone proud.My family is from Poland so I have had many “old fashioned ” pressures put on me,and in their eyes I don’t know if I’ll ever be there ideal of a “perfect ” daughter,I’m not married at 33,my fiancee has dreadlocks and tattoos and I work for myself but you know what their expectations don’t define me.
    Xo,
    Natalia k

  • Woah babe, you are only a year older than me but it sounds like you’ve been through so much more. I feel like I’m a little opposite to some girlfriends who freak out at the idea of being single at the age of 27. I’m 26 and pregnant with our first child and I’m a little worried I might be too young in society’s eye to be a mother. But seriously, as women, we think and care too much about what family and others think to live for ourselves. I’m sorry about your past marriages and I’m glad right now you’re just traveling and enjoying life with someone who makes you happy (no matter how inked he is hehe). I’m worried about how young I may look in people’s eye to be a mother, but I’m going to ignore it and just live happily with the decisions I’ve made. Thanks for this inspirational post and for pouring your life story out for us.

    -Lily from With Love Lily Rose

  • Tandya

    This was such a great campaign! I was so glad to be apart of it! I do not think it is right for society to put an expiration date on women! Everyone has their own timeline. Some may want to be married and have children at 20, and others may not start until their 40.
    Now that I am 25, I am starting to feel pressures from my peers and family to be engaged, get married and start having children!

    Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    XO
    Tandya
    http://www.simplytandya.com

  • Lana Luu

    Thank you for this honest post. I think you’ve mentioned very serious problem. It is so difficult sometimes to go against your family and social pressure, but definitely worth it. It is your life and no-one can tell you how to live it right and no-one can push you to make wrong decisions. I’m glad that you found your way and you can tell other girls your story.

    http://lanaluu.com

  • Hey Beautiful,
    Hows you?
    Sooo Interesting post Darling, I will turn now
    30, and to be honest I don’t feel any pressure to get married or to have kids etc.
    I feel Happy with my Life how it is now.
    I think the Most Important is that we feel
    Happy and we do this type of decision when we feel 100% Right!
    Generation changed a lot, my Mum had 2 kids already when she was 26.
    It was sooo Interesting to read your Deep and Honest post:) Thank you❤️
    Love Open Kloset By Karina
    Kisses Hugs
    Wish you Happy Day

  • Wow this is amazing! I love your story! I honestly feel like so many people can relate to this. And I agree, when I was younger it was always easy to “mold” a perfect man. Overtime, I found someone who made me happy and is now my husband. I know there is someone out there for everyone, I’m glad you found your perfect man. Thank you for sharing your story. Everyone should live their lives how ever they want and not try to reach people’s expectations. I loved reading your wonderful post!

    Vanessa

    http://thefashionstatement.net

  • Awww it was so interesting to hear your story! Because growing up in Russia I definitely experienced all sorts of societal pressures. You need to finish college, get married and have kids by the age of 25, and become a stay at home mom. It’s not like there is something wrong about this path, but there were no alternative offered for Russian girls.

    I also am a rebel as I moved to another country and picked a non traditional career. I feel like my parent still can’t agree with it. But you know what? It’s my life and I’m gonna do what works for me.

    Thank you for this inspiring piece! It was great to know that I’m not the only one dealing with the family and societal expectations!

    http://stylesprinter.com

  • I’m so proud that you say no to everyone and decided to live your own dreams! That’s so brave and inspiring. I’m lucky enough to have great family, my mom always taught me to don’t care about what society want from us and to always be yourself, no matter what. She is the best really, I’m so happy to have support from them, it means a world to me.

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, I didn’t know there was so much behind. I respect you even more now!

  • @queenhorsfall

    growing up in Central Asia, I have experienced it since childhood. When everyone tells you how to live, as soon I grow up and moved to Europe, I finally learned that I have rights to choose what I want in my life. But even being married, my family still didn’t give up and now keeps asking when we gonna have babies. And to be honest, it is irritates me! I love this concept by SKII for supporting women!

    http://www.queenhorsfall.com/

  • No matter where we grow up in, we still feel the pressure from our Chinese traditional belief! But it’s time to be free from that! We should live our own life in our own belief!

    xx Margaret
    http://www.maleemaleehong.com

  • Wow it’s like you spoke right to me babe! I’ve definitely felt the pressure from others, and from myself! I might not be where I thought I would be but at least I’m being true to myself!
    Kyla
    wanderlustkyla.com

  • Oh girl you have no idea how much I relate to this post. I got divorced before 30 as well because I got married for all the wrong reasons!
    You are doing the right thing for yourself right now and you should be proud. I did the same and it was the best thing ever!
    I do not believe in this expiry dates society puts on us anymore. Trust me, as a latina, working and supporting myself and not being married and with kids before 30 it’s not common, but I’m happy and it’s my life after all!
    Thanks for sharing!
    XO
    Aimara
    http://www.waysofstyle.com

  • I think the pressure is always there no matter where we are born and grow up! Maybe the pressure is to varying degrees but it is universal for sure. Its more persistent when it comes to getting married and having kids. Great post love!

    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com

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