How many times have you heard the compliment “She’s beautiful for a woman her age“? I can not even count how frequently I’ve heard the phrase tossed around in the past weekend let alone the past week. As americans we are obsessed with youth especially when it comes to youthful women. Though the phrase (and similar phrases) are meant as compliments the articulation leaves a generally bad taste in my mouth. It’s a bit back handed, no?To call a woman beautiful in and of itself is a genuine compliment but to add “for her age” implies that she is inherently less beautiful than a woman of a different age. Why must this distinction be made?
Biologically speaking there are various reasons men and women alike find a specific age range desirable and it all has to do with fertility and reproduction. Yet we’ve adopted so many standards and measures of beauty that have little to do with biology so it seems strange that this variable (age) must continually be hindered upon such a rigid standard. I don’t wish to perpetuate the idea of a “cougar” or “cradle robber” for either gender by suggesting older women are attractive but rather to cease shaming women for their humanity. It is human to age! Men age and we commonly begin to refer to them as “distinguished” and “refined” while women’s looks are belittled and compared to their younger counterparts.
It takes one short glance at the Google search results for “Anti Aging Creams” to realize that most anti aging products and procedures are marketed towards women. For a woman to age without attempting to prevent the visible signs of aging is societally considered “letting herself go” even if she remains healthy by other standards. Do most men even moisturize their faces on a daily basis let alone lather on serums and skin creams and masks? I think the answer is apparent!
I’m not suggesting we stop striving for youthfulness, by all means lather on the SPF, drink plenty of water, cut back on alcohol and sleep on silk pillow cases. I’m certainly not attempting to speed up the aging process or wishing for wrinkles any time soon but I am suggesting a consciousness regarding the way we discuss beauty and age particularly. I’m suggesting we stop pushing women to look like they’re perpetually 25 (from ages 16-55) and rather adopt an “age gracefully” policy that allows women to showcase their beauty at every age. I look at myself at age 5, age 14 and age 23 and see the same girl showcasing beauty in three drastically different ways. While I hope to be healthy and radiant at age 40 I don’t expect to look the same as I do at age 23. To strive for that ideal would erode me, it’s exhausting and frankly unrealistic. Let me be beautiful as an adult woman who has gained 17 years of experience. If true beauty radiates from the inside outward (as I believe it does) shouldn’t the grace and character and acquired wisdom we develop over time add another dimension of beauty?
I’m attempting to embrace beauty at all ages and stages without stressing a specific look or stage in life as the ideal and for god’ s sake I never want to tell a woman (age 7 or 77) that she is “beautiful in spite of her age“. Is my idea crazy? How do you view age and beauty?