Monday 23 June 2014

Aging Women Are Ugly...

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: "It's a girl.” - Shirley Chisholm

Driving to work this morning listening to the radio I heard a disquieting discussion between the breakfast hosts.  I am the last one to take things too seriously – anyone who knows me can attest to that.  But this really pissed me off. 

It was a discussion about hot actors who had “let themselves go”.  I've always thought “hot” to be a distinctly relative term, and don’t even get me started on the definition of letting oneself go.  However I’m not here to argue semantics.  My day started with Kathleen Turner:

                “I think she’s the spokesperson now for Winnie Blue.  And Bakewell pies.”
                “Spokesperson!?  I think she’s the taster for Bakewell pies”
                “Have you seen her lately?”
                “I think her last role she was playing a bloke.” 

 Then Carrie Fisher:

                “I finally watched the original Star Wars movies.”
                “See what we mean?”
                “Yep – saw her in the gold bikini – I DO see what you mean...”

And then Brenda Vacarro:

                “Yeah, she’s another one.”

                “What’s that film she was in where she was hot?”

What irritates the shit out of me is this expectation that women will remain preternaturally attractive despite age and all of the accoutrements which naturally accompany aging.  The things which are forgiven if one is male – weight gain, wrinkles, thinning skin, grey hair.  To name but a few.  That aging in women is seen as an ugly failure, rather than a rite of passage indicative of a lifetime of experience and enviable wisdom.  All of the women mentioned on the radio this morning, and in this Blog, are beautiful.  And guess what? – Marlon never came up once...

“Lines trace her thought and radiate from the corners of her eyes as she smiles. You could call the lines a network of 'serious lesions' or you could see that in a precise calligraphy, thought has etched marks of concentration between her brows, and drawn across her forehead the horizontal creases of surprise, delight, compassion and good talk. A lifetime of kissing, of speaking and weeping, shows expressively around a mouth scored like a leaf in motion. The skin loosens on her face and throat, giving her features a setting of sensual dignity; her features grow stronger as she does. She has looked around in her life and it shows. When gray and white reflect in her hair, you could call it a dirty secret or you could call it silver or moonlight. Her body fills into itself, taking on gravity like a bather breasting water, growing generous with the rest of her. The darkening under her eyes, the weight of her lids, their minute cross-hatching, reveal that what she has been part of has left in her its complexity and richness. She is darker, stronger, looser, tougher, sexier. The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold.” 
-        -   Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women

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