“They told me ‘advertising is for dreams, not reality, and women dream to be young.’ That was their reasoning. It’s wrong of course. Not all women want to be blonde, thin, and young. But that’s the image companies want to sell. And you always have to fight it.”
–Isabella Rossellini, on being sacked by Lancome
I guess I’m odd. I think older women are endlessly beautiful. Silver hair, skin with texture, eyes that hold wisdom and secrets, and laughter laced with experience make me stand in humble awe.
Our culture, however, tells us otherwise. We are blitzed with advertising and images that preach “anti-aging.” How many “anti-aging” products are in your home? Would we be okay with “Anti-youth,” or, “Anti-woman” products? It’s so common I suspect most of us don’t even hear or see the subtle brainwashing that takes place.
To fight back, as Isabella suggests in the quote above, I thought I would share a handful of quotes about beauty and aging from admirable women who are in the second half of life. Sometimes it helps to hear our older selves lend perspective.
“It’s like two tribes. The Botox tribe thinks: ‘why doesn’t she do something?’ And the other side thinks: ‘They looked scalded. They look bizarre.’”
“Nooo. I love the gift I’ve been given. I don’t want to get to Heaven and St. Peter to say: ‘Who the Hell are you?’ I want him to see wrinkles, grey hair, double belly, double chin, arms that jiggle, thighs that rub together, big feet…it’s me.”
“I remember ten years ago a woman in America—and she was referring to me and to herself—saying: ‘Well, this is what 40 looks like! Meaning, ‘Don’t we look marvelous!’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s only what 40 looks like if you’ve had an easy life, with enough to eat and someone to do our hair and make-up.’ It’s such a narrow view.”
“We have to ask ourselves whether we really want to paralyze our facial muscles, wipe away all signs of age and accept that only by looking oddly youthful for as long as possible are we allowed any place in public life. If we do, then we’re bending to a viciously sexist and ageist ideal. And, let’s face it, obedience is never a good look.”
“Once you reach a certain age you’re not allowed to be adventurous, you’re not allowed to be sexual. I mean, is there a rule? Are you supposed to just die?”
“Old age is not an illness, it is a timeless ascent. As power diminishes, we grow towards the light.”
So tell me, please. What do you believe? I love the way older women look, and could care less if that look occurs with surgery, or life’s hands, or both. Just be you, and find your happiness. I will stand in awe.