Something has been percolating in my brain for a while, but I couldn’t find the words to talk about it on a public forum until today. Perhaps I will find the words if I simply type them into the keyboard.
It began with a syndicated episode of The Big Bang Theory. I see the scene in front of me but I can’t find it when I google it. It’s not so much the scene that made an impression anyway, it’s the phrase.
This is how I remember it (paraphrased):
Penny is sitting on Sheldon and Leonard’s couch with some or all friends nearby. She makes a comment referencing something to do with beauty, passion or sex. She said:
We have to do this now, before we’re old and ugly.
I was bothered by this comment at the time, but only peripherally. Like the studio audience, I too chuckled because it’s such a mainstream thing to say out loud, isn’t it? Society attaches so much clout to youth as a way to measure beauty and sexual vitality.
The comment tugged at something within me but not so prominently that I reacted passionately toward it, at least not immediately. It’s just a sitcom, after all, and they write the lines to appease their target audience.
But here’s the thing:
They, the writers and creators of the show, think, believe even, that beauty is manifested in youth.
And, that youthful beauty, especially in women, is sexually attractive to (heterosexual) men of all ages.
And, that all women (should) attempt to attain – prolong – youthful-looking beauty at all cost no matter what.
When Penny made that comment, she blew a raspberry immediately after saying it. She dismissed the idea that older people could still be considered beautiful, and (gasp!) have sex. She implied old meant ugly, and who wants to have sex with someone who is ugly?
You see where this is going, right?
Like many women, I go through periods of low self-esteem. The body image, the weight fluctuations, the skin blemishes or wrinkles, the saggy skin with age, the lack of tone that we all had when we were 20…it’s part of what the beauty industry picks on.
We women, especially the over 50 crowd, seem to constantly want to fix some part of us.
Off to the beauty salon we go to colour our hair, or burn away the scars, or puff up the lips and breasts. On the way home, we stop at the drug store to pick up concealer, hair spray, lotions and a million other items to help us feel beautiful.
Back to Penny’s remark.
Whatever the context was in that episode, it drew home the point that in general, the public is still obsessed with youth and its relative implied beauty. It’s what we see, and what we want to see, is the message.
Let’s turn this around for a moment.
While blogging over the years, I’ve never paid much attention to the demographics of who is following me, and more importantly, who is interacting with me and us here in the comments section. I seem to have attracted a diverse group of bloggers if all ages and cultures – I didn’t analyze the stats by gender or age.
But I did notice an influx of the over 50 crowd of women who blog. There are two types of 50+ women:
- those who are (mostly) happily divorced/separated/single/dating
- those who are (still)(mostly)(happily) married
These women are blogging about everything under the sun and it’s fabulous! I follow many of them, have mentioned some here, and you can see for yourself in some of my more actively commented posts who they are.
They have cool blog names too. 😍
One thing that seems to bind us together is the fierce support system that exists on our respective blogs. We talk about all the things that affect women today, including the “are we still beautiful and sexually desirable at our age” comment that jump-started this blog post. It’s no secret, to any of us and to the men who share our lives, that we constantly struggle: with body image, with weight fluctuations, with hair and skin dilemmas, with hormonal irritations…
And yes, we sometimes pick on the men, too…💙 😛
As you can see, the comment made by Penny hit a nerve, but didn’t really transform into all of these words until recently which is why I hurled ithem out into the blogsphere today. (Sorry-not-sorry) I must have picked up on it peripherally and stored in some deeply recessed cavity in my brain and let it fester…
But now it’s out.
And I’m ready to think about it more, with your input. Those of you who have read me for the past few years know I struggled with esteem issues as well. I’m better now than I was in my 40s. Honestly, I am enjoying my 50s way more than my 40s (reference point: I was still in the toddler trenches in my early 40s and then perimenopause hit and ugh…)
At the time, while chasing diapered humans, I felt old, probably also ugly, but I didn’t give a shit. I was too exhausted, struggling with house and relationship inadequacies to worry about beauty regimes. I think that was the time I became more of an introvert than I already was…
Now though, in my early 50s I take time to dress up at times, colour and style my hair, apply a bit of makeup… which then gets hidden behind a mask 🙄. I also lust over shoes and boots, wear jewelry, streak my hair…
Who am I doing this for?
It’s a tricky questions. Mostly I do it for me. But I admit it doesn’t bother me when I attract people’s attention as I walk by and I get a look or a smile, or an acknowledgement… It’s nice, you know?
Here’s the shift in perspective though:
It is obvious I’m not young.
Which is why Penny’s comment is so irksome.
Yes, people may look at young people for their obviously displayed youth as an attractive feature, but women in advanced years, they exude something beyond, in addition to, physical beauty: self-confidence, grace, wisdom, and often (not always) a “don’t give a fuck” attitude about trivial things.
They (we) exude life experience. 🎉 And that, my friends, is nothing to shake a (hockey) stick at. 🇨🇦🏒🇨🇦😉
And if they are bothered by trivial things? Well, some of them (me) go home and rant about it on their blog. 😂
So what do you think? Do you pick up comments like this and nitpick them to death like I do? Does this topic make you think, want to explore, or run off to the next beauty salon for a hair and facial treatment? Or do you just not care?
See you in the comments.