Enhance? Own Your Age
By Karen and Erica
Debora Spar, the President of Barnard College and soon to be President of Lincoln Center, recently raised two questions of interest to us: Should women of middle age fight its physical manifestations, and should they criticize each other for doing, or not doing, so?
As to the second question, the answer seems clear. This is not a moral issue. No one is hurt, either way. Nor is the feminist cause undercut, either way. Feminism allows each of us to decide what face we present to the world. So criticism is unwarranted.
The first question seems a bit more complicated. We are a little older, in our sixties, and we don’t especially like the effects gravity has had on us. But we feel it important to be our age. We cannot, and do not want, to compete with a young face or body.
Our faces and bodies, for better or worse, reflect our long lives (for which we are grateful). But that does not mean we have to let nature take its course, without a challenge. We are living in New York City. People walk, a lot and fast, and so do we. People eat, a lot, and try to maintain their weight. So do we. People have checkups. So do we. Even very young people color their hair, just for fun, and so do we (though we have not yet gone to pink or green). Even very young people wear makeup. We try. Neither of us grew up with good makeup skills, but we want to learn. People wear elegant clothes to make them appear in the swing of things. So do we.
Our objective is not to look young; it is to look good. And to feel good. We are all living much longer than we did even a century ago, and evolution has not quite caught up. So we need to do regular maintenance. And a little enhancement. In our view, there is no feminist betrayal in that. On the contrary, feminists are strong, and flexible. We want to participate in whatever happens next. To be confident, we need a positive self-image. That means taking care of, and feeling good about, ourselves--however we feel is necessary. And talking about it.
We need to be proud of how we look. We're not fighting our age, but we're not giving into it either. We're styling it.