Raise your hands if you have ever used the age prediction app which would determine your age based on your photograph. If the age predicted was less than your actual age, did it make you giddy with joy? You don’t look your age, you look too young to be a mother/grandmother. You don’t look a day over 30. These are some very common ‘compliments’ that are paid to women who look younger than their real age. But in this day and age, when even celebrities are embracing their greys, when wrinkles and creases imply natural ageing, is looking “young” a relevant compliment? And why do we still fall for it?
- Designer Vera Wang is being lauded for not looking her age in the latest photos she posted on Instagram.
- While Wang’s fitness level at the age of 70 needs to be lauded, why does looking young still count as a compliment in 2020?
- Why must a 70-year-old or a 45-year-old woman not look her age? What exactly is wrong with looking your age?
- So many women are championing ageing for us today, by living their life to the fullest and chasing their dreams and passion. All the while wearing their wrinkles and greys with pride.
I seriously don’t get all the fuss over Vera Wang not looking 70! Is that some kind of validation?
Fashion designer Vera Wang recently took the internet by storm when a series of her photographs in an orange dress, that the 70-year-old had shared on Instagram, went viral. Her luscious black hair, washboard abs and flawless skin have mesmerised many. “How is she 70?” An Insta user wrote in the comments section under one of her photographs. “I could have sworn she’s in her late 20s,” wrote one Twitter user. Good for Wang that she is so fit at 70. I’ll perhaps need two pairs of hands to just roll me over into a sitting position at that age. But having said that, I seriously don’t get all the fuss over her not looking 70. Is that some kind of validation? Does it make Wang more relevant than she already is?
A designer renowned for her bridal wear, who has worked with celebs like Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys, Victoria Beckham and Ariana Grande, does she need to be applauded for something as vain as “looking young”? But then this is a fashion designer that we are talking about. How far is vanity from a fashion designer, or a model or a social media influencer? One can say that it is a part and parcel of their job to look a certain way.
Closer to home, in these last few months we have been talking a lot about many 70 plus women who have proved that age is indeed a number, and not a deterrent when it comes to chasing your passion or leading your life on your terms. Asha Parekh, 77, in December last year, endorsed singlehood saying that she was completely put off by the “whole premise of marriage.” At 81, yesteryear actor Waheeda Rehman took up wildlife photography, while Surekha Sikri won her third national award at the age of 74. Just a few days ago, Judi Dench graced the cover of Vogue, becoming the oldest cover girl for the UK edition of the magazine at the age of 85. What’s common in all these women. That they do not shy away from looking their age. They sport their greys and wrinkles with pride. And while I may get criticised by a faction for saying this out loud, but these women inspire me more than Wang on any given day.
I do not desire washboard abs, thick black hair or a toned crease-free body when I am seventy (Not that I have had that in my 20s or even 30s). But I definitely desire the spunk that these women have. The right attitude to embrace my life and work around the limitations of what ageing may do to one’s body to live my life to the fullest.
Regular work keeps you healthy, treating yourself to a spa is a step in self-care, but all the positive and healing aspects of these actions stand negated when you resort to them purely to challenge ageing.
Which brings me to my second problem with the “You don’t look THAT old” discourse; it sets up false expectations and pushes women into denials towards all the changes their body may go through with age. When you tell one woman that she doesn’t look forty, it sends out a message to other women in that age group they are doing something wrong with the way they are ageing. Colour your hair, mind what you eat, workout for sixty minutes every day, resort to facial treatment if you have wrinkles.
Regular workout keeps you healthy, treating yourself to a spa is a step in self-care, but all the positive and healing aspects of these actions stand negated when you resort to them purely to challenge ageing, out of anxiety of looking like a“buddhi”. Shouldn’t the focus be on happiness and health, no matter what your age?
The views expressed are the author’s own.