On Wrinkles and Love Your Body Day

Today is National Love Your Body Day, which is fitting because I was going to write about wrinkles anyway! Hoorah for convergence! Use the hashtag #lybd on Twitter to participate in the conversation.

Last week, Sociological Images pulled an awesome example of “wrinkle washing” of female celebrities:

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Smooth vs. wrinkly, right? I think it’s particularly stark when you annotate like this:

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SocImages pairs this image with an excellent Susan Sontag quote:

The great advantage men have is that our culture allows two standards of male beauty: the boy and the man. The beauty of a boy resembles the beauty of a girl. In both sexes it is a fragile kind of beauty and flourishes naturally only in the early part of the life-cycle. Happily, men are able to accept themselves under another standard of good looks — heavier, rougher, more thickly built…

There is no equivalent of this second standard for women. The single standard of beauty for women dictates that they must go on having clear skin. Every wrinkle, every line, every gray hair, is a defeat.

A few other examples:

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That is not to say you shouldn’t attempt to take care of your skin. For the love of God please wear sun block. Moisturize. Drink a lot of water. But, you know, but don’t let a laugh line or crow’s foot be a defeat. The men certainly don’t. On the other hand, it’s not just a question of internally changing perceptions of self, is it? Here’s something by Gloria Steinem re miley Cyrus that seems relevant:

“I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed … But given the game as it exists, women make decisions. For instance, the Miss America contest is in all of its states … the single greatest source of scholarship money for women in the United States. If a contest based only on appearance was the single greatest source of scholarship money for men, we would be saying, “This is why China wins.” You know? It’s ridiculous. But that’s the way the culture is. I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists.”

This stuff is damaging for so many reasons. The pursuit of youth (and beauty, if you’re already young) is distracting us, literally, from all the other things we could be doing with our minds and hearts. It’s part of the reason that we’re behind, because “they” (and by “they,” I mean the “industry,” the advertisers, the media, our friends and family too, sometimes) have convinced us that how we look is related to what we can do. And to Ms. Steinem’s point, playing along isn’t weakness or vanity; in its own way, it’s smart. The appearance game is the only game in town so what the fuck else are we supposed to do?

So… yeah… sorry for the bummer, but it’s a bummer kind of day. Go do something nice for yourself. Buy a book. Take a walk. Eat something delicious. Call someone you love. Write a nice note. Make plans to look forward to. Listen to good music. Look at yourself in the mirror and be like, Yeah, it’s pretty cool that I get to have this body, because this body enables me to do all this other stuff that makes being human pretty fucking cool.

Related Post: Love Your Body Day in years past

Related Post: Why I will not be joining your gym

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6 Comments

Filed under Body Image, Hollywood, Media

6 responses to “On Wrinkles and Love Your Body Day

  1. Great post! This is so interesting. I want more of these photos with the ages on them! I could look at them all day–not sure why. It must be similar to when you posted the real photos of models.

    Joe is 30ish and takes pride in his grey hairs and wrinkles. He even calls them “the source of my power.” I, on the other hand, am in my 20s and already dying my hair regularly, I have been experimenting with wrinkle creams since I was 24. I’d say it’s unfair, but technically (or maybe arguably) those were MY choices.

    • Right, I know? It’s like.. yes, it’s my choice, but I don’t make my choices in a vacuum. Do I shave my legs because i like the way it feels or because i’m afraid I’ll be shunned if I don’t? Your choices and his choices aren’t inflected by the same pressures, but at the same time, maybe there’s value in picking battles…

  2. Here is another interesting tidbit…Only 12% of women aged 50+ are happy with their bodies. Time for action beyond Dove ads!
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131014131334.htm

  3. Pingback: The Short Haired Lady | rosiesaysblog

  4. Pingback: Even Skinny Girls Deserve Compassion | rosiesaysblog

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