Back when I was an irksome, irritable teenager, I used to take issue with the fact that my mother would talk about “the girls at work” when in fact most of them were approaching 50. To me, a 14-year-old with copies of FHM stashed under his bed and enough testosterone and sexual frustration to make his eyes water, a “girl” was either someone my friends and I would whisper about at school or whichever scantily clad celebrity happened to be on the cover of said cheeky magazine each month.
Thankfully, now 31 and my hormones having settled down a bit, I’m able to appreciate that whether or not we label someone a “girl” really depends on the person in question, and dare I say it some of my mother’s (slightly younger) colleagues would no doubt get the nod of approval from both me and my old school friends if we had the pleasure of meeting them. But a recent question posted on Japan’s Oshiete! goo, a Q&A site not unlike Yahoo! Answers, asking where we draw the line between “girl” and “woman”, or rather “joshi” and “josei” in Japanese, has sparked quite the debate online, with some proposing that age 40 is the cut-off point while others believe “joshi” ends at 20.