We´ve heard about and even experienced the mommy wars, the career women vs. homemakers wars, the slim-versus-plus-sized wars, the journalists versus bloggers wars … and many more. Well, since I became of a certain age, I´ve also noticed that whether it´s acknowledged or not, there is also such a thing as the aging wars.
What is that, you ask? Well, the trend of women trashing other women over aging a certain way. It happens online, in gossip magazines, in conversation…
For example, women who decide to embrace their gray, cut their hair short and flaunt their wrinkles are ridiculing those who hide their white strands with shades of platinum and spend half their paychecks on plastic surgery.
And older women who spend all their free time at the gym to keep their arms looking like Michelle Obama´s laugh at the batwings of their peers, those women who would rather bake apple pie than pump iron.
The trend is to deal with our own aging by making fun of those who handle it differently.
So what if Mary Jane decides to dye her hair and wear it down to her waist way past her 60th birthday? Women have been dying their hair and wearing hair extensions and wigs at least since Cleopatra’s time.
And why does Ms. X, who has the benefit of (and budget for) Botox and fillers to make her look well-rested in her late 50´s, poke fun at Mrs. Y – her same age – who can´t bear the sight of a needle and for that reason looks a good ten years older?
Also read: Why Fifty is the New Fifty
Here´s the thing. Women who can´t afford or choose not to undergo cosmetic enhancements or even the knife, put down those who use them, like they’ve somehow betrayed their gender. And the surgery junkies turn up their noses at their friends who want to embrace the passage of time without resorting to beauty treatments beyond daily moisturizer.
As I turn 51 today and reach for that bottle of dye to cover my graying roots, I ask – what is it to anyone else how I choose to deal with aging? And who am I to criticize those who face the passage of time differently?
Consider this: if you are overweight and out of shape and find yourself putting down a woman who is toned and lean because … “well, she has all that free time to work out, so of course she´s fit,” you´ve got a problem. And if you choose to spend all your spare hours at the gym, eat nothing but lettuce and poke fun at curvy women, shame on you. What if their extra padding is due to an illness or they simply don´t have the willpower you were blessed with? What if they’re perfectly happy with the way they look! I’d say their self-esteem is healthier than yours!
Well, the same goes for the signs of aging.
People love to tear down the celebs who look damn good at 50, 60 and beyond. Yeah, well, they have time to work out, they have tummy tucks, facelifts, personal trainers and all the help regular women can´t afford. But if their surgery goes wrong (think Meg Ryan), then they´ll shred her to pieces too! I´m as guilty of that as any other, mind you.
As I get ready to blow out another candle and think about what´s in store for me in the next decade, I wonder: can´t we just let each other age however the heck we choose to or are able to? If you reach 60 looking and feeling like you just crawled away from a train wreck, why take it out on those who are getting their second wind (and look the part) at 65? And if you look like a goddess at that age, who gave you the power to put down the women who lack your kick-ass genes or hefty bank account that funds your good looks?
Supposedly we´re wiser with age, but apparently even past midlife we don´t seem to be – as a whole – kinder to our peers.
We still compete. “Did she or didn´t she (get Botox, a boob job, a tummy tuck)?” we ask with delight.
Well, really, who cares? Whether she´s a size two because she runs 10 miles a day, wears shapewear or got liposuction, what does that matter to you? And if you´re the one inclined to take better care of yourself at 45 than you did at 20, why give a hard time to those who don´t give a damn about their looks?
All I know is that we´re in this thing called life, together. We´re all getting older, no matter what our age, every single minute of every day. We´re all a little or a lot scared of the passage of time, of our skin getting wrinkled, our hair graying, our joints stiffening, our vision failing, our memory lapsing and ultimately, of death. So, if your friend decides to deal with it by getting a little cosmetic enhancement – or on the contrary, cutting her hair short and never wearing makeup again, who cares?
I say we put an end to the aging wars, stop comparing ourselves and judging others, and simply keep on celebrating birthdays however we choose to observe them. Because in the end, it won´t matter what we look like when we´re dead!