The other day I was watching the View. I’m on leave from work, and I guess when you are on leave watching ladies chat about pop culture and American politics is a thing that just happens naturally. Honestly, they kind of drive me crazy (because I’d like to argue with them, but end up arguing with the TV screen. Then my mother, working in the other room, says ‘who are you talking to? And I have to admit that it’s no one.), but if I don’t watch something I have trouble remembering to eat my banana for breakfast.
Anyhow, Sally Field appeared on the show to promote her film Hello My Name is Doris. Apparently it’s good, according to her and the ladies at the table. I believe them. From this chat, Sally Field was asked about gender and age in Hollywood. She shared some insightful remarks about trends and actions and ideas without follow through. I was impressed with her experienced perspective. But one little thing really caught me, and it continues to make me think.
While discussing age and Hollywood, the ladies of the view were letting Sally know how darn good she looked – ‘You look 35!’ says Joyce Beher, a View host. I know that is meant as a compliment, but it immediately strikes me as a sad juxtaposition against the words that Sally had literally just spoken. Sally Field is smart and productive and beautiful.
“What the heck was that?” I say to the TV screen.
Does she look 35? No.
Should she look 35? No.
Does Joyce’s comment inadvertently imply that whatever age Sally is at this moment isn’t an age to be honoured?
And what’s sad is that is really how our culture has been trained to think, not just Joyce Beher. We attach beauty to age – with an emphasis on ‘anti-aging’, when the two things needn’t have a damn thing to do with one another.
People who are beautiful in my life:
My mother; my father; My mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my brother’s partners, my brothers, my best friend and her husband, my sister and brother in law, the inspiring library ladies who I worked with in both Southampton and Rosemount, the women of my old book club and writing group, the children of my cousins (and my lovely cousins too!), all the babies I adore to see on Facebook, my husband, my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother….
There are so many beautiful people in the world, and the more I come to meet and know them, the more incredible they are in my mind.
How old are all the people I just listed? It doesn’t matter one bit. They are a range of ages and experiences. They are a rainbow of eye colours, hair types, tan lines, wrinkles, scars, and smiles.
Beauty is not age. And the moment we say ‘you look half your age’ I think we discount the value of perspective, wisdom and credit earned within a lifetime, as well as how wrinkles add kindness to a face, and grey hair is lovely, and stretch marks are accomplishments. (etc)
Age before beauty? Beauty before age?
In my mind the two do not compete.
Beauty is as beauty does.