From the dizzying heights of ineptitude falls this statement: “You look good for your age.”Now, how foolish must you be to think this is a compliment in any way? I hear it at least once a day, which means foolishness abounds.
If you were Clever, you would say “You are NOT 40. How old are you really?” This subject got me thinking. When did aging become ugly? Oh, I guess when we started living beyond the age of 30.
Why are we so obsessed with youth? And further, why is there a perception youth and beauty are inextricably bound? Personally, if I had to go back to being 25 to look 25- NO THANK you. I have a friend who is 45 and more beautiful than nine of 10 20-year-old women I have met. She takes care of her hair, her skin, her figure, and just happens to be stunning. Being young does not make you beautiful. Being older than 40 doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful. Beauty comes in all ages.
I see beauty as I see art. It’s an intersection of repertoires. Think of walking into a museum or someone’s home- the art they love, are moved by, are enchanted with may not speak to you in anyway. The appreciation or love of that piece of art is an intersection- between the piece itself and the viewer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a cliché because it is vastly relevant. Beauty is ageless. It just needs to be identified and appreciated.
I have a friend who is 65 and easily one of the most striking women I’ve ever seen. If I’d just met her, I would think she was beautiful and not really think about age. Do we qualify our thoughts? “Wow, she’s gorgeous, too bad she’s old?” I don’t. Instead I think, “Wow, I don’t look that good in my 30s!” When I’ve been with her, I’ve heard the following insults (masquerading as compliments to the fools who issued them forth): “You must have been a real knockout in your day,” “You must have been quite the heartbreaker in your 20s,” “How old did you say you were again? You look great!” “I hope I look as good as you when I’m 65!” OK, Clever Tribe. None of these are compliments- to anyone. All they say is- you don’t look as good as you probably did. You look OK- but you’re old.
I think beauty or even physical attractiveness requires one to be Clever at any age. You must put some effort into your appearance if it matters to you. However, we are all victims of the media portrayal of beauty, according to which one must be slender, fit, tall, have a full head of hair, have perfect skin, be wrinkle-free, and if at all possible, be no older than 24.Never has the pressure been so high to be young and beautiful- which is odd, because we are all aging. Shouldn’t instead the pressure be on to be comfortable with the process? To see beauty for what it is? You are not any more or less beautiful a person because you are 20 or 60- right?
One of the aspects of “Sex and the City” I truly enjoyed was the age of the women. Not just because I was watching it in my 30s, but because it was proof there is life, love and beauty after the age of 30. The show raised the hem line (which is acceptable at any age as long as you have the goods), showcased women between the ages of 33 and 53 three as vibrant, sexy, active and Clever.
How much time are women spending trying to achieve or maintain beauty? A great deal.Could that time be spent better elsewhere? Most likely. There is a theory Naomi Wolf touched upon in her book “The Beauty Myth” I find so interesting. Just as competition was created in the homemaking era- to keep women focused on doing their best in the home and continuing to value that place (thereby not threatening the work place), beauty and the obsession with it was created (after women took to the work place) to occupy women and maintain the patriarchal system. Food for thought. Of course, I love feedback.
The point is- if you want to compliment someone on their looks- don’t slap them in the face instead.