I want to thrash the hour glass, I have learnt as most women do, that youth’s elixir accounts for so little of who you turn out to be – a discovery so often made with dwindling sexual attention. Ageing men, on the other hand, in making similar self discoveries are elevated to elder statesmen (and their gaze turns to younger women). But older women, knowing who they are, and with things to say, feel their volume fading.
I am sure many women who are older than me are reading this, thinking as I did when I read Crabapple’s piece, “don’t worry, you still have it easy.” I’m loathe to guess how I’ll feel about reading this myself at 50. Resigned to the fact that this is just how it is? Lamenting my 30s as the last of my female visibility? I hope not. I feel the issue is deeper than the $88bn anti-ageing industry and compounded by much more than consumerism. It’s tied up with feminism and how we value women – as if our worth was based on an expiry date. Society’s ear tuned in according to our age, our usefulness attached to our fertility and appearance.
This is about much more than our sagging breasts, our pickled skin and our marching cellulite – it is about our growing voice, extinguished at the moment it has the most to say. And yes, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep might be great “older ladies” role models, but there are only a handful of actresses in similar positions, compared to their thousands of male counterparts.
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