“Her age was hard to determine from our vantage point, a point in our lives when we could not bring older bodies into focus.” ~ Miranda July in “Something that Needs Nothing” from No One Belongs Here More Than You
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“That great lie of contemporary culture, that women are at their most beautiful between the ages of 16 and 25.” – Zadie Smith in “Hepburn and Garbo” from Changing My Mind
I started this post with a bunch of pictures of women that I love who are over 50. As I looked through the pictures, I thought to myself each and every time “damn, she looks goooood.” But what I meant, and I wish this weren’t so, was “damn… she doesn’t look old.” Looking old is apparently antithetical to looking good, just ask my mom every time she comes back from the hair salon.
When I look at pictures of Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren and think they look good because they don’t look their age, I’m condoning the idea that the only kind of beautiful is young. This is not a game I want to play. Just as I think that thin is not the only way to look healthy, I think that smooth is not the only way to look beautiful. Who do I pick, an actress that packs her forehead full of botox, or one with crow’s feet? Do I pick a big woman who can run 5 miles or a rail-thin girl who hasn’t eaten a real meal in days?
So I opted against pictures. Instead, I put the quotes from Miranda July and Zadie Smith up top, in place of where an image would be. I will probably return to my youth-obsessed, image-oriented judgmental self tomorrow, but I thought it would be nice to take a break for a bit. For the record, the women I wanted to talk about were: Susan Sarandon, Helen Mirren, Desiree Rogers, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Jamie Lee Curtis and Vanessa Williams (who is only 48, but I couldn’t resist because she’s just so fucking badass.)
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