Text: Daria Kosareva
A month and a half ago in the section of user blogs on spletnik.ru a resonant post appeared under the title “Why I envy Kate Moss’s self-esteem”. The publication, which caused a heated discussion and criticism of the site’s community, was accompanied by an impressive selection of photographs of a supermodel in real life and contained rather unambiguous intonation of the author’s thoughts on how Moss manages to “flaunt flabby, sagging buttocks”, “roast in the sun without thinking about photoaging “, And in general look like” how she allows herself to look “, and at the same time still remain one of the highest paid and demanded representatives of her profession. Around the same time, a discussion began on social networks around the world of Keanu Reeves’ friend, forty-six-year-old art activist Alexandra Grant, who dared to appear in public with unpainted gray hair, that is, emphatically ignore the requirement of “eternal youth.”
Unfortunately, the prohibition on the conformity of female appearance and age is embedded in the collective unconscious. Until now, a significant reason for female pride in Russia is considered to be the refusal of employees of a neighboring supermarket to sell alcohol without showing a passport, the phrase “you look great for your age” is read as a compliment, and the phrase “woman” applied to persons who have reached puberty is regarded as the most severe insult. (Young Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande use the word “woman” about themselves without any embarrassment.)
The unspoken prescription to look much younger than the years stated in the identity card is presented to modern women everywhere, and alas, this aspect of ageism is perhaps the most imperceptible, difficult to formulate, and therefore poorly eliminated.
Paradoxically, the directive “45 is the new 25” took shape in the cultural and visual canon literally over the last decade, when the patriarchal world order began to undergo a serious rethinking. Twenty years ago, women did not have a hard dilemma at all – to grow old naturally, without trying to turn their biological clock back, or, on the contrary, to follow the path of greatest resistance and use the latest achievements of modern cosmetology, plastic surgery and the wellness industry.
If a woman’s external appearance shows traces of efforts to maintain youth, all achievements are instantly depreciated, and she herself acquires the status of “desperate”
Thanks to the development of technology, the emergence of social networks, the hegemony of kidult culture and the general course towards mental rejuvenation, what was recently the standard of a narrow and very privileged segment of society has acquired the status of a generally accepted norm. Today, refusal to participate in the pursuit of eternal youth is regarded as something marginal, indecent and socially unacceptable. Surprisingly, our grandmothers had much more opportunities to look their age without being convicted of “laziness” and “passivity”.
Holders of skills and knowledge to preserve youth today have become perhaps the highest paid and popular specialists in the labor market. We open Instagram – literally in a few minutes of navigation, a huge array of information about how to look / be / become younger falls upon us. Facebuilding and revitonics adherents show how to “save the face of a 20-year-old”, stretching trainers “how to gain muscle elasticity in a 20-year-old”, personal stylists teach to dress in accordance with “youth” trends, and Instagram cosmetologists share secret knowledge about not the most obvious markers of youth and they immediately offer to become their owner: to level the “corner of youth”, “fill” the temporal cavities and smooth out the rings of Venus. A separate and growing genre of instagram blogging is the accounts of mature ladies who look like very young girls.
At the same time, on the one hand, there is no intelligible information about the threats of thoughtless “rejuvenating” hormone therapy, the use of stem cells and unnecessary surgeries. WITH the other – those who decided to work with age-related changes suddenly find themselves under the pressure of the peremptory public demand for “naturalness”. It is no secret that if a woman’s external appearance shows traces of interventions and super-efforts to maintain youth, all her achievements are instantly depreciated, and she herself acquires the status of “desperate” and “chasing youth” in public eyes. And how much financial and time resources that are spent on achieving visual ideals could be redirected to the development of professional qualities, personal hobbies or interaction with loved ones.
The universally recognized icons of eternal youth, whose images through the media and social networks are broadcast as examples of a mandatory and easily achievable standard – Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Kate Beckinsale or Natalia Vodianova – have financial opportunities and amazing genetics that are inaccessible to most of the world’s inhabitants. However, even these women cannot avoid shouting “still looks like her age” – as if this is something bad.
and behavioral patterns must correspond to a person of a certain age, gradually fade into the past
The average age of noticeable gray hair is thirty-five years, and for many Europeans it appears as early as twenty. But a full row of healthy teeth, smooth skin, and a girl’s lack of gray hair have historically been the most readily available markers of youthfulness and attractiveness. A change in one of these signs was subconsciously considered by others as the end of a woman’s fertile period, and therefore, her complete uselessness for society. Not being able to be economically independent, women gained in the social hierarchy the status of “freeloader” and “extra mouth”. Old means incompetent. And nobody needs it.
With the onset of an era when female realization ceases to be directly related to the function of procreation, her personal value also increases. Life expectancy is also growing impressively: today people live a larger and more conscious and more intense part of life in a far from perfect physical form. The existing opportunities in the field of cosmetology and wellness industry are not able to turn back the clock, visually dumping half of your life. So why still get involved in a struggle, the result of which is known in advance, and demand it from others?
The good news is that slowly, albeit slowly, age and its “symptoms” (be it gray hair or wrinkles) are losing their negative, offensive connotation. And the inveterate ideas about what external and behavioral patterns a person of a certain age should correspond to are gradually becoming a thing of the past. Someone at thirty is comfortable walking with unpainted gray hair and get involved in knitting, while someone at sixty-five is comfortable showing a neckline and riding a hoverboard.