Women who want to empower teenage girls tell them not to focus on their looks because the world will see their inner beauty.
But for some reason, lots of smart women don’t practice what they preach when it comes to themselves or their girlfriends.
“Come back and see me when you’re 50.”
That was the response from the president of one of the nation’s most prestigious women’s colleges to a friend who voiced her concern about women turning to plastic surgery and Botox to compete in the workplace.
Debora L. Spar, president of Barnard College, penned a recent oped in the New York Times titled Aging and My Beauty Dilemma, that got lots of women debating the issue of aging and work, including many of my friends on Facebook, many of which are accomplished, brilliant women.
I was surprised to see how many friends gave Spar kudos for acknowledging her Venus myth acquiescence.
If a woman, Spar wrote, “ignores the process of aging and eases more honestly into her inevitable wrinkles, belly fat and gray hair, she is liable to stand out as an anomaly within her personal and professional circles.”
If the women’s movement was about anything it was about standing out and standing up so women could level the playing field.
Women are discriminated against for a host of reasons – they get pregnant, they aren’t seen as leaders, or as deserving equal pay. Yes, age discrimination is an issue. I’m not denying that.
It turns out, we’re also fighting the perceptions of other women who are embracing the warped “fat and gray” narrative. We should be empowering other women to be themselves, and believe that they’ll succeed based on their proven track records.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be nervous if I was 50 and looking for a job at Barnard College. Spar is acknowledging her age bias, but not trying to rise above it.
We need to start respecting women and men more as they age, not less if we want our society to be the best it can be. This is about more than just entitled women who can afford to spend money on tummy tucks.
By setting an example in our own peer groups and embracing maturity, including the belly fat and gray hair, we can have a far-reaching impact on society at large.
A report put out last month be the World Health Organization found that ageism is hurting the health of many people around the globe.
Negative attitudes about ageing and older people have significant consequences for the physical and mental health of older adults.
Older people who feel they are a burden perceive their lives to be less valuable, putting them at risk of depression and social isolation. Recently published research shows that older people who hold negative views about their own ageing, do not recover as well from disability and live on average 7.5 years less than people with positive attitudes.
By 2025 the number of people aged 60 and over will double, and by 2050 will reach 2 billion globally, with the vast majority of older people living in low and middle income countries.
“Society will benefit from this ageing population if we all age more healthily,” said Alana Officer, WHO Coordinator of Ageing and Life Course. “But to do that, we must stamp out ageist prejudices.”
Stamp out, not give in gals!
How do we expect men to see our inner beauty if we can’t?