"I only have five years left of being pretty," she wailed.
Being five years older than her, I tried not to look annoyed. Although I knew it was illogical, I fought the urge to find a mirror. Was there a sudden shift at age 35? Had it happened to me and I didn't know it? Realizing that we were in the Alaska wilderness and there was no way to check, I merely remained irritated.
This was years ago, and yes, my former coworker is still pretty, well beyond the five years she gave herself. Everybody is entitled to a freak-out now and then, and she probably felt silly later. But still, this viewpoint continues: young is beautiful.
I read a blog where the young writer talked about unwelcome attention from men, but went on to blithely say that middle age was a cure for that. A magazine article in Marie Claire, a publication that claims to empower women, a few years ago extolled Demi Moore's beauty, but then went on to say, "but sooner or later, her body will turn to mush" (that's when I stopped reading that magazine). A friend, on the phone with one of his buddies, was describing a woman to him. "She's attractive," he said, and then went on to utter the fateful words: "she's an older woman." She wasn't much older than they were. Does her age matter?
I found an article about a 57 year old model online. I thought she was gorgeous. But when I started to read the comments, I was amazed at the level of animosity that was directed toward this woman, from people who didn't even know her. Most of the comments were from men. Why? Did they feel threatened? Were they upset that their wives didn't look like her? If they didn't know she was 57, would they have felt the same?
We'd all (I think) like to believe that inner beauty is the only thing that matters. And really, it is. I know some people who would not be considered conventionally attractive who are incredibly beautiful because of what lies beneath, and others who look like models but are ugly for the same reason. But everyone cares about the outside, even if it's just a little bit. Otherwise we'd still be sporting our overalls and satin baseball jackets from the '80s (why for the love of all that is good and holy, did we wear these things?) and the bangs that looked like a cresting tidal wave (again, why??). The makeup industry would go out of business, and plastic surgeons would only do reconstructive surgery. You wouldn't see 30 year old actresses as the romantic interests of 50 year old men in movies.
I happen to think that pretty-on-the-outside doesn't have a half-life or a time stamp. I don't think you have to be a millennial to be gorgeous. Maybe that's wishful thinking, since I'm no longer a young person. But I really don't see my friends' wrinkles or gray hairs. I only see their beautiful smiles and their beautiful souls.
|Yazmeenah Rossi, 61 year old model.|