You might think I’m a bit loopy, but it’s true. Why do I love wrinkles, you might ask?
I recently won 50% off a facial at a local spa. I remember feverishly tweezing at my eyebrows before going to see my old hairstylist, because I was always afraid she would make some comment to me about “my look” (based on a friend’s experience). So, in preparation for going to a spa specifically about my FACE, I’ve been greasing up my feminist armour to protect me from whatever anti-aging ideology may confront me there.
So here goes, friends. Another feminist rant about beauty:
The dominant beauty standard in our culture suggests that women are most attractive when they are meek, mild, naive, inexperienced… basically, when they are girls. Kind of creepy, no? But look at any beauty or fashion mag, and you’ll see it: all women, of a frighteningly similar appearance, and all of them in their teens. Freshly mature, these poor little vixens. And not one of them appreciated for more than their looks.
Also a part of this standard is the message that wrinkles are BAD and that you need to work hard to keep them at bay, as long as humanly possible. Turns out, despite what all those asshole commercials tell you, fighting off wrinkles is NOT humanly possible. At least, not without hugely invasive procedures, which really only delay the inevitable, and risk making you look more like Michael Jackson (too soon?). It’s a fruitless struggle against time, kids, and one that leaves women feeling inadequate and defeated.
Let me suggest a radical idea to you: wrinkles aren’t ugly. In fact, they are beautiful. Even though we never hear this message, I think it’s an important one. Because wrinkles represent something that isn’t actually a bad thing: a natural product of age.
And what’s so bad about age? Anyone over the age of 30 might want to snap my neck like a twig, since I’m all still-in-my-20s and I don’t “really know what I’m talking about” and all that. But I’ve thought a lot about this, ever since I wrote a dumb thesis about beauty. And here’s a little secret I want to let you in on: aging is natural. It’s not bad or wrong. It might even be good. Because it represents the journey of our lives, which is NOT simply about how closely we can emulate an image in a magazine.
Disagree with me if you like, since it’s also true that every day we live we’re one day closer to death and such. But think about it: isn’t it good to learn, and grow, and love, and laugh, and cry, and all of these things that make up the complex pieces to the puzzle of our lives? I think this is particularly salient for women, because aging and wrinkles represent experience; the story of one’s life. Even if we cease to be trophies with each “fine line” that blesses our face, think of everything we gain! Think of the emotions that lead us to make those facial expressions, to bend our bodies and skin in any given way, that leave us with evidence that we have lived. Isn’t that better than being an empty-shell mannequin?
Now, I’m not saying I always believe it (cause I’m only human), but I think it’s an important message to promote. This is one of those battles I choose to fight, because I refuse to accept that youth equals beauty. Maybe in some creepy, reproductive imperative kind of way, but not in terms of depth of character and experience, and all of the things that make us who we are.
Having said that, I ALSO resist the stereotype that all young women are vapid ninnies, empty vessels perpetuating the most awful aspects of our society. On the surface it may seem that way sometimes, and sure, youth often goes hand-in-hand with naivete. But as damaging as the anti-aging epidemic is to women in our society, so too is the objectification of young women – made much easier when we honestly believe they are shallow, uninteresting, brats. THAT is a whole other subject, for another day.
But for today, I challenge you to be radical: love your wrinkles.