Sunday, July 13, 2014

Aging and beauty: On praise of 42-year-old-women


It's interesting, this debate about middle-aged women and desirability, because an article that didn't seem all that offensive to me inspired not one, but two angry responses that I also agreed with, though I thought they missed the boat in dealing with the real way we forty-something women feel about our bodies and our looks, whether or not we "should" feel that way.

Sure, the Esquire article focused on women's value as sex objects, but hello, what did you expect in Esquire? A sincere examination of changing gender roles and a call for a new definition of masculinity that wasn't all about conquest?  I suppose that you might also expect that Hustler would put clothes on the women in their magazine, arrange them in non-gynological-exam positions, and ask them about their deep-seated hopes and dreams.  In the context of Esquire, a sincere appreciation that women in their forties are now commonly-accepted sex symbols is exceeding expectations, at least mine.

The truth is that some forty-something women (and beyond) do, in fact, want to still maintain some sense of desirability, even if they are in committed relationships and have no intention or interest in going out with anyone else.  Especially because we still feel so young on the inside, we might not want to be resigned to being past all of that.

At the same time, I don't arrange my life around being pretty like I did at 19.  I'm not expecting to be the center of attention when I walk in the room -- and if I were, I'd figure I had spinach on my teeth or had my dress tucked into my pantyhose.  I do some things to maintain my health and fitness.  These would also, happily enough, would allow me to address many of Lisa Solod's other 8 things.  I feel the truth of Coco Chanel's quote:
“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve.”
And to be honest, I also look with surprise at some of the forty-something men and women I know and wonder how we all came to be middle-aged so fast. It's easy to get used to my own aging face because I see it in the mirror every day, but when I see someone I haven't seen in years, I see the passage of time more clearly.  I never understood my parents and aunts and uncles and their talk about how time flies when I was a teenager who thought that high school's tortures would never end.

Is it anti-feminist to admit that I hoped that I could somehow manage stay young and beautiful forever? All I can do now is try to expand my own definition of beauty, and I'm not surprised that it's hard for Esquire writers, because it isn't easy for me either.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't think original article was offensive either. And honestly was a little embarrassed for the two angry response writers. Angry just never seems to come off well. . .

    ReplyDelete

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07