Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Timeline of Pretty

My coworker burst into tears on her 30th birthday.

"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.

8 comments:

  1. We are a society ruled by media....and some people started these erroneous beliefs and spotted them to enough people in the right places and it kinda sorta became law...I guess!

    When I was talking about dating I always said..yeah I want him to be cute but I'm more concerned with his inner beauty because his external looks can and will change and alter...his heart doesn't!!

    What??? You don't want to bring thanbamgs that took a half can of hair spray back????!

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    1. I agree...cute is good because you need that initial attraction. But a good heart is so important. And, those bangs...as a park ranger that Smokey hat was the bane of my existence! It flattened my hair, so I was always trying not to wear it.

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  2. i'll posit that it's not just the ladies who feel this way - as a recently single man in my 40's i'm hoping that i have inner beauty cos the outer stuff has gone to the dogs!

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    1. We women often say it doesn't matter for men, gray hair and wrinkles just make them look distinguished! Unfair!

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  3. That model looks amazing! Yeah it sucks that older (over 50) women are dismissed as fading beauties. But I was never one to wear makeup and do my hair, so I guess I've never cared that much anyway. As a women working in a profession mostly dominated by men, I've found that being attractive can is more of a handicap. A lot of people think that beautiful people aren't smart.

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    1. As a firefighter I never worried about my appearance at work. But lately I've seen younger women wearing makeup at work. I don't get it. You're going to get sweaty, dirty, ash on your face...Why would you want that mixed with makeup? Their poor skin.

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  4. First of all, satin baseball jackets were awesome! :)

    Our society will always have this absurd notion that female beauty is equated with youth. People have been sold on it, and too many markets profit from it. Women being insecure about their looks is a huge industry. If more women would realize that, stop buying into it, and appreciate themselves and others without cosmetic alterations, the world would be a much better place.

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    1. I had the red one with the white sleeves...

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