The woe of being an aging woman


Carolyn Tran

Women are often encouraged to appear as if they’re freshly out of high school, no matter how old they actually are.

If you’ve ever been down the skincare aisle of any store, you probably know all about the anti-aging craze. There are serums that claim to make you ten years younger, creams that will apparently straighten out all your wrinkles, and face masks that seemingly inject your face with collagen.

It’s not surprising to learn that youth is idolized by society, especially youth in women. Calling somebody “old” is an insult, while saying that somebody looks younger than their age is usually a compliment.

There are many reasons as to why this is.

MCHS counselor Janet Montes said that “People may want to appear younger because when you’re younger, you tend to have fewer troubles, both external and internal. You’re healthier, don’t need to worry as much about the real world, and are generally happier as a result.”

However, this doesn’t quite explain why aging women are viewed more negatively than aging men. Scientific studies have shown that men of all ages find women in their early to mid 20s to be the most attractive, while women prefer to date men that are their own age. 

This is not to say, of course, that men don’t also struggle with body image issues related to getting older. However, it cannot be denied that women bear the brunt of ageism due to societal beauty standards and norms. Hollywood actresses are often seen as undesirable after they turn 30, and, in movies, men star opposite women who are often much younger than they are. Olivia Wilde, for instance, was considered “too old” to play Leonardo DiCaprio’s love interest in the film “Wolf of Wall Street,” in spite of the fact that she is nearly a decade younger than him.

All this leads to a growing fear of aging among women, and sometimes even teenage girls. An article published by CNN claims that, in 2012, less than 20% of women aged 18 to 24 were concerned with anti-aging skincare compared to over 50% in 2018.

On a more personal note, I would consider myself to be quite young. After all, I’m in high school and don’t even have my own driver’s license yet. Despite this, I often find myself worrying about getting older. When I was in 10th grade, I even invested in an anti-aging serum after hearing claims that it would protect me from wrinkles. I was only around 15 years old at the time but already believed that aging was something to be prevented and looked down upon.

Senior Alexis Tlilayatzi, age 17, says that “I’m honestly scared of developing wrinkles and sagging skin, which is ridiculous considering that I’m in high school. It’s unfair how older men are called sophisticated for salt and pepper hair and smile lines when women are shamed for those exact same features.”

Women in general are held to higher standards than men are when it comes to beauty.

“In order to be considered conventionally attractive, women have to put a lot of effort into their appearance, whether it’s putting on makeup, getting their hair curled, or waxing off all of their body hair. Men can just kind of roll out of bed and be considered good to go. If you watch those red carpet behind the scenes videos, you can see that women spend so much time on outfits and makeup while men simply pop into a generic suit,” said senior Albert Huynh.

Overall, it’s quite unnerving how the worth of women tends to be tied directly to their looks. There are much worse things than aging gracefully, a concept which both Hollywood and society can’t seem to wrap their minds around.