From Cleopatra to Jane Fonda, women of all times seem to have caught the youth and beauty bug. That race is not a new concept, but is without a doubt becoming way too excessive in the current culture. Wrinkle creams and 9 step make up routines, plastic surgery and dermal fillers, laser treatments and vitamin infusions, no surprise the beauty industry is worth billions. If a woman is pushing 40, or God forbid, over 40 and she doesn't look at least 10 years younger, then she is worthless - modern values one on one. Obsolete and marginalised 'the women of a certain age' should be spending countless of hours on exercise and diets, and tens of thousands of pounds on beauty products and treatments if they want to be relevant. Parallel with the quest for eternal youth and beauty, 21st Century society is stressing the issues of equality and women empowerment. Somehow, I can't help but to feel conflicted about the obvious contradiction. On one hand, we should feel great in our own skins, love who we are and focus our energy on education, emotional and personal growth, and financial stability, but on the other, we should recognise how our half wrinkle needs some nip and tuck, feel ugly unless our bosoms aren't on our chin, and centre our lives around just being sexual objects?
I tend to agree with the views of the journalist and activist Naomi Wolf (1991), who theorises that the “beauty ideal” was established to “distract” women when they gained power, legal recognition, and professional success—essentially rendering the “feminine mystique” obsolete in the process.(1) The mature woman is not a victim of her age and looks, and society treating her like one, should not be acceptable. However, fighting the ageist stereotype should start with not becoming one. Looking and feeling great at the age we are, should be an internal process of beautifying and if in our own view the external needs tweaking, than we should go for it, but first should learn what our own view really is, which comes back to the internal again. Certainly popular culture and immediate social surroundings are influencing us consciously and subconsciously, but what we choose to admire and believe is our very own decision.
I don't have to be perfect or conform to any ideals of beauty to be ravishing and charming. Standing in-front of an old masterpiece or reading some wonderful poetry doesn't require any physical beauty, and surely delivers much more joy than an expensive wrinkle cream. Knowledge and success have no age restrictions or beauty requirements. Inner piece and balance could be achieved by anyone, and happiness is free of judgement. I refuse to accept that I am not vibrant and attractive, unless I aim to look 25. I will not endure weeks of pain after and under the knifes of the plastic surgeons, just to look like a genetically modified Barbie doll. Taking care of myself does not translate into Bottox injections for me. I reject the idea of spending monthly few thousand pounds of my hard earned money just to be considered beautiful by people I can't care less about. The way I see it, being beautiful comes from being healthy, feeling great and having a positive attitude, and I guess, couple of thousand invested into travelling and some delicious, wholesome food would do me better than few unimportant gazes from random dudes on the street. I will not evaluate my self-worth and beauty based on a popular belief, and will not feel guilty or insignificant because I've had the privilege to be as old as I am. Being in my 20's is in the past, and I want to look in the future and experience fully my present. I want to be Me and different from any other woman. I want to be lucky enough to live a very long life and learn what ageing is, doing it gracefully depends only on me and not on social norms.
Feel fabulous at any age and don't forget to smile!
1) 98 — Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, Vol. 7, No. 2 • Fall 2016