Beauty is as much attitude as the way you look and it is ageless.Rebecca Lightbody
So I’m sat here watching what has become my newest obsession, ‘The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives’; a show that recently came out on Netflix. Though, I’m lowkey meant to be working on a new ‘Let’s Be Patriotic’ post👀🤫, I can’t help but binge and get a glimpse into a culture and a world that I am not familiar with. This is one of the many things I miss about being able to travel, the opportunity to get immersed into a new culture and genuinely learn about a new place is something I crave so much but who says I can’t do so with some good ole reality tv.
Okay, so the point is I’m watching an episode where the ladies seem to all be obsessed with looking young and are opting for various anti-ageing mechanisms to ensure this. It had me thinking…why are we so afraid of ageing? I’ll never forget working on a project during my masters where our group chose the elderly i.e. over 65s as our customer segment. While developing an idea for how we could re-engage them in society I remember a suggested tagline was in relation to making them feel ‘youthful’ again. I remember feeling very uncomfortable about going ahead with this because I wondered – why can’t we simply encourage them to embrace their age; to embrace the ageing process? Why is being ‘young’ considered better? These questions flew around in my mind then and though I was so happy I was able to convince my group to change our tagline, these thoughts still persist. And they’ve been made even more apparent while I watch a show that was filmed between last year and this year. So clearly, it’s still an issue.
As always, I had Google as my trusty friend to look into other articles and think pieces which have sought to cover this topic. I’m glad to find that others have posed similar questions and have also displayed a sense of disdain for this staus quo; particularly when it comes to the beauty market for women. In a past film analysis of mine, I touched on the fact that the process of ageing appears to be more of a death sentence for women compared to men as the term ‘silver fox’ is thrown around way more when it pertains to men. However, with women the beauty market is filled to the brim with the next best anti-ageing cream or supplement and it really makes me wonder, why?
“What if we revered the ageing process as much as we celebrate a smooth face? What if an older woman’s face with all its natural wrinkles and softness were as championed as a woman who ‘looks good for her age’?”Danielle Pender, Refinery29 (2018)
Now this is not to suggest that as you get older, you should become more lax and neglect your health and wellbeing. In fact, that should be prioritised whatever your age especially as your body undergoes various changes the older you get. However, my issue lies in the fact that women are almost ‘written off’ once they get to an older age and even the compliment of ‘omg, you look so good for your age’ is stained with an expectation for the age of a woman who is indeed older, to never be displayed so candidly; quite frankly it’s backhanded. And surprise, surprise it’s one that I’ve used in the past and never saw an issue with. However, the more I read up on this topic, the more I’m learning that we do not offer ample room for the full expression of a woman’s life and the lessons she’s learnt to be appreciated.
‘Unknowingly, we (all) actively participate in a cultural obsession with youth.’Rebecca Lightbody, Huffington Post (2017)
It’s almost easier to write about the fact that Jennifer Lawrence was the youngest woman to win the Oscar for ‘Best Actress’ but we suddenly ‘switch off’ when Olivia Colman takes the centre stage as an older Queen Elizabeth on The Crown. (I am quite literally @-ing myself throughout this because I was turned off at the idea of an ‘older cast’ and I will be the first to admit that that’s extremely somehow🥴) There is no doubt that young people are doing and continue to do amazing things, but over the years I’ve developed a really soft spot for the older generation. They’ve survived so much without the plethora of tools this generation is blessed to have at our disposal and although they have undeniably made mistakes, so have we – so has every generation. Why focus on one and neglect another?
“The problem with only ever championing or celebrating the next bright young thing is that we’re short-circuiting our culture and our understanding of the world by cutting out the views and experiences of older women. They can teach us vital lessons and provide a road map for navigating life, if only we would let them.”Danielle Pender, Refinery29 (2018)
I honestly think it’s high time we start to embrace the ageing process more. I think it’s time we start getting used to seeing magazine covers where we see a woman’s wrinkles on display. And I think it’s time we question our beauty standards, why we possess them and do the work of dismantling what is very much steeped in global patriarchal ideals. Because as the quote above suggests, this not only ensures every woman at every stage of her life feels represented but more importantly younger women are afforded with positive examples of ageing done right. We can go even further and seek to gain juggernauts of wisdom from these women and realise that though being in our ’20s’ and ‘adulting’ is such a hot topic right now, there is indeed life beyond it. And how amazing would it be if we cherished that life as much as we cherish our youth.
For more on this topic:
“Too often, women are sent the outdated message that life ends at middle age, but that’s just not reality.”
“In this culture, to age is to be erased; to be deemed irrelevant, disappear from magazine covers and popular films and get tucked away into facilities, managed and cared for. For women, it also means being turned from a coveted object into a disposable one.”
“Women are taught that their age is a taboo subject, and unfairly men seem to be able to continue to keep going without having to worry that their age might affect their attractiveness, career or sexuality.”
Peace & Love,