October 10th, 2006

ozarque figure

Still more about Nora Ephron and her Necklaments....

Women in the U.S. don't have control over a lot of things [although it must always, always, be remembered that compared to women in much of the rest of the world they have a breathtaking abundance of control]. But one thing over which many of us do have control is this cultural Old Ladies Are By Definition Ugly construct. An aging woman raising kids or grandkids and barely getting by on a minimum wage job doesn't have any choice when the boss orders her to wear makeup or skirts or dye her hair. But when it's not a matter of survival -- and especially when it's what has been described in your comments as peer pressure -- we are in charge of this one thing.

Nobody makes us buy "anti-aging cosmetics" and hair dye. Nobody forces us to buy the magazines that are devotionals for Youth Worship. Nobody makes us try to live on lettuce leaves [with any luck, e.coli-free lettuce leaves] and radishes and the occasional scrap of dry toast. Nobody drags us kicking and screaming and pleading for mercy into the offices of plastic surgeons. Nobody forces us to buy endless books and films and screeds explaining to us what we have to do in order to look younger than our daughters. Nobody compels us to buy the products made by companies who run the commercials that say, "Aging naturally is all very well -- but we all need a little help, don't we?" and then trot out the magic powders and potions.

We do all these things voluntarily. And as long as we sheepily continue to do them we ourselves are supporting and nurturing the Old Ladies Are By Definition Ugly movement, and it will continue to thrive.

And while I'm here.... there's also the Old Ladies Are By Definition Stupid movement, in which we are expected to believe that Boniva is God's gift to old ladies because they're not capable of remembering to take a pill if it has to be taken once a week -- and we get to watch old-lady peer groups in commercials oohing and aahing over the superior intelligence of the woman in the group who has managed to find her way to the doctor's office all by herself and get her Boniva prescription. Nobody makes us buy into that one either.

[Related: "Why Are Old Women Older Than Old Men and How Can We Fix That?," at http://www.seniorwomen.com/articles/articlesElginOld.html .]