Monday, April 27, 2009

Too ashamed to age

Recently, I've been particularly interested in the health sections of the different online news sources that I read. When I came across this story, I already had an idea of what it would be about before I even read it: Older woman thinks looking younger through surgery will lead to her feeling better about herself, and she has these feelings validated by others who compliment her on her newly attained looks. Turns out I was right.

I can't say I'm against cosmetic surgery, because I feel that doing so would be an infringement upon a woman's right to choose what she wants to do with herself, which I believe in strongly. But I do have a problem with women in many societies having to deal with the idea that age is something to be ashamed of and youthful looks should be sought at any price.

In the article linked to above, Janet Cunliffe, aged 50, said she wanted to look like her daughter, Jane, who is 29 in order to gain some confidence about herself.
"I decided to do it because I was feeling low at the time, I'd just come out of a long-term relationship, so just to boost my confidence. My daughter inspired me at the time, so I just wanted to look like her and to make me feel a lot more youthful and to give me some confidence."
The problem of correlating one's physical appearance with one's worth is such an integral part of being a women in many societies that it's sometimes one that isn't thought about. It's definitely an issue that I struggle (often unsuccessfully) to think of ways to conquer in my life.

And this article, I feel, is not helpful. It draws attention to this woman because she has completely bought into the troubling idea that appearing youthful is the only way to feel good about oneself after reaching middle age. It validates her feelings of discontent with appearing her natural age, and helps give reason for other women to feel the same way.

So, question: How can we make this cycle stop?

1 comment:

Jha'Meia said...

My mother recently spoke about getting a facelift when I was home, and she kept asking me what I thought about it. There wasn't much else for me to say, "as long as you're happy Mum" and I kept on wondering where the pressure for her to *look* better came from, when she's already under pressure to be healthier. =/ I feel that with our longer lives, people are feeling more and more that there's a specific cutoff where they start really aging, and they can't age before then. It doesn't help that the mass media tends to portray older women as still being attractive, or humiliates them for being their age. Still a different question you asked, though.