The truth is that older women are more beautiful than conventional wisdom would have you admit. Time makes the contours of a face more pronounced. For many, it becomes easier to grow the gorgeous lumps defining the marble statues of idealized women in museums. Veins on hands begin to tell stories with or without a pen.
Most of all it’s the sheer fucking luckiness of having made it, of being alive, that makes older people, and especially older women, more beautiful.
This is convenient for me to say at age 34, when I have become an unmistakable target of the drug store creams to fix the nature. It is growing increasingly clear on Facebook — where pictures replace shared experiences as the currency of relationships — that some of my age peers have begun to use plastic surgery. Seeing this is a struggle.
Like everyone else, I have grown up in a culture where we devalue women who don’t live up to impossible ideals, and then dismiss the women who take extraordinary measures to do so as shallow. Aging presents one of these most classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenarios, and from a modern feminist point of view that honors the individual lived experiences of women rather than attempting however earnestly to provide a blueprint that everyone must follow to sidestep oppression, I think I’m not supposed to care about another woman’s plastic surgery. And really, as it pertains to that other woman, I don’t. Making value judgements about someone else’s beauty regimen is one bad jam.
The struggle comes in elsewhere. Like everyone else, I have grown up in a culture where women are encouraged to compare themselves to one another in superficial ways. So seeing all this plastic surgery makes me wonder: Yes, I’m comfortable aging in place today, but will I be tomorrow? I would like to think that when gray hair comes I’ll embrace it. But I say that a time when my appearance gives me no real reason to fear being written off as yesterday’s news. So I am sitting with this ambivalence and uncertainty and honoring it.
The longer we live, the more we know people who have died. If you have made it to a point when aging is considered a concern for your age group, it means that you are supremely fortunate. I wonder why that keeps getting lost, especially for women, and what we can do about it.