Is Ageing Really So Bad?

Increasingly the above question keeps popping into my head. What is it that is so awful about ageing? Why is it seen as more of a crime for women? And why the hell at nineteen am I thinking about this? I read an interview with Charlize Theron in Psychologies magazine this week just gone, where she spoke of the ageing process difference for men and women: men age like fine wines, and women like wilting flowers. She hit the nail on the head. And then went on to explain why this idea is completely and utterly wrong.

Okay, so when women age they get wrinkles, the boobs so south, the hair goes grey, and the menopause happens. When men age they get wrinkles, the crown jewels go south, the hair goes grey, and their sperm die off faster than dodos. So far, I am seeing no particular difference. Just as gender (not biological sex, but gender- there is a difference) is a construct, so is the idea of men aging better than women. If people are keen to use fertility as an argument for the hostility towards women ageing, bringing in the need for a mate that is biologically ingrained into us- then what is their excuse for men? If it is appearance they wish to use as the excuse, then I believe society needs to shift its perception of what is beautiful. People age. It’s natural. It isn’t a loss of beauty; it’s an entirely different type of beauty. But it’s also a type of beauty that isn’t included in many of the media outlets we currently see- that isn’t to say it doesn’t exist. If a man can be a silver fox, then I’m sure that there is a female equivalent. Just look at Charlize Theron, Salma Hayek, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Hurley, Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Oprah Winfrey, Judi Dench, Queen Latifah…

As women get older they also become more comfortable with who they are. They know their bodies better, appreciate their strength physically and mentally, gain experience- give better advice. But much of this advice is lost, as when women in the public eye hit a certain age (with the exception of the queen maybe) they just seem to…disappear? In The Beauty Myth Naomi Woolf (read my review here: . I highly recommend giving this book a read) speaks of our fear of aging pitting young women against the more mature women; older women see the younger ones as their replacement, and the younger women see the older women as a threat and source of hostility due to this. Ultimately, this means we never benefit from the wisdom of these strong female figures. Whereas traditionally in films the young male figure is seen as having an older male guiding them, we rarely see this with women.

The interview with Theron brought it home to me that we should be embracing the aging process of women as well as men. How many anti-wrinkle cream and hair colouring adverts do you see aimed at men compared to women? Just because we are female, doesn’t mean we are any less like fine wines. When women age they gain so much- and if equality is ever going to be a reality, then we need to address the little things too. One of the things we need to understand is that ageing is not a sin.


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