Why is it that when we talk about someone of age, meaning over 40, we always say things like, “Wow, she looks great for her age.” Why does her age have to enter the picture at all, why can’t she just look great?
I was looking through an old People magazine the other day and I came across an article where Christie Brinkley was mentioned; “Plus, Christie Brinkley steps out in NYC looking effortlessly gorgeous for 57 years old.” Well, yes she looks gorgeous. Not many people look like Christie Brinkley, no matter what their age. But what does that mean, for 57 years old? Can’t a 57 year old, or any age for that matter, just be gorgeous? Obviously, terms like beautiful, gorgeous, and hot, are reserved for those who are in a certain age bracket and can then be used without additional explanation or comment.
The for her age exists because we are expected, and have accepted getting older as a bad thing, a negative thing, an unfortunate circumstance of living a long life. It’s as if we have a use by date and after that, people must use a qualifier. What I’m sure most intend as a compliment, can leave one feeling as if they are being graded on a curve. It doesn’t have quite the same positive impact.
We all know, and have accepted, that men on the other hand become more distinguished, more dignified with age. And why is that? Why is it that graying hair and deep character lines work so well for the male gender, but for us females, they are as undesirable as fleas on a dog.
The answer is simple, of course. It goes back to the beginning of time; women are attracted to men for their strength, their capacity to provide, to protect, to lead; whereas men are basically attracted to youth, sex appeal, baby carrying hips, strip clubs, just good ole’ T&A, so to speak.
Ok, I’ll be a bit gentler here. They are supposedly wired to be on the lookout for females of reproduction age. You would think that might come to an end as the male ages, but apparently not! Others say that this is learned behavior, learning what is deemed attractive and desirable by their culture. Personally, I think that is closer to the truth.
I started writing what was intended to be a rather humorous book about the plight of women and aging when I turned 50. Ten years later and I’m still working on it! But, that’s not the point. The point of the book is that behind all the joking and making light, we are wasting decades of our lives worrying about not looking or feeling like we did when we were 30. Isn’t it time we cut the crap, embrace our lives, and quit playing the numbers game? Stop with the limitations (at least the ones placed on us in our minds or by society) and live without constantly being haunted by the mirror, our dress size, another gray hair, another character line on our face, and the number of candles on our birthday cake?
Years ago, the Dalai Lama said something that echoed around the world. He stated that he was a feminist, and that in his opinion, Western women would be the ones to save the world. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? But what about this? Why don’t we start by saving ourselves first? Let’s begin by losing the qualifiers. By removing the “use by date.” By giving ourselves permission to live fully, for our entire life, not just a portion of it, full of grace, in a Wabi Sabi sort of way.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Isabella Rossellini. She said, “In interviews, the first question I get in America is always: What do you do to stay young? Well, I do nothing. I don’t think aging is a problem.” Brilliant! I’m with you, Isabella. Aging isn’t the problem, our conditioning and self-limiting beliefs are the problem. Gorgeous comes in all shapes, sizes, ages and forms. Beautiful has a home outside of the young, and Christie Brinkley. Our journey through life, if we are lucky enough to live a long one, becomes like a treasure map, which when unfolded, is revealed on our faces, our bodies, and etched into our souls. We then have a life that is rich and compelling, a beautiful story to tell, and one worth reading.