What Age-Bashing Can Teach us About Positive Ageing
So many viral blog posts that get shared thousands of times on Facebook, Buzzfeed and all over the Internet are vacuous rubbish.
Shonky linkbait with headlines designed to get as many clicks as possible. Deliberately controversial angles designed to polarize people and draw us in to the drama.
I try to stay clear of it but one recent headline made me so angry I made the mistake of checking it out, and what I read there enraged me.
27 Horribly AGED Celebrities on “entertainment” site Caliser took me over the edge from anger to disgust to sadness. I’d rather not link to the post but you can find it at http://caliser.com/horribly-aged-celebrities/.
Even the headline with aged in uppercase, demonises ageing and seems to tar it with the same brush as crack addiction. But the catty remarks about ageing and ageing women (I didn’t notice any men) were the final straw.
The article reads:
“This is a list of celebrities who’ve looked worse with age than one would expect. As they’ve gotten older, these stars have become more and more unattractive. We’ve all seen our fair share of bad plastic surgery celebs, and some of these famous people certainly fall under the same category. Those that don’t create their own damage naturally.”
The premise for the article is as shallow as the grammar is bad.
Unfortunately there’s nothing shocking about magazines or websites ridiculing women for gaining weight, going grey or getting wrinkles.
What shocked me about this is that it isn’t just a personal attack on one woman, it’s an attack on all women over a certain age.
Since when did age-bashing become okay? Racism isn’t tolerated any more but ageism seems to be.
The article carries on:
“What celebs have aged the worst? What celebrities used to be hot and aren’t anymore? It’s a shame that some of these celebs are no longer recognizable, because everyone on this list actually looked pretty good when they were young. May this be a lesson for us all to watch our bad habits and not succumb to temptations of having too much work done.”
But this isn’t a lesson in healthy ageing at all. It is a sorry indication about how shallow society has become. It’s a foul reminder from a culture which so blindly worships youth and beauty that it fails to recognise the humanity that lies within all of us and the wisdom that comes with age.
Ageing is painful enough without the media attacking it and biggest lesson here is that age-bashing needs to stop.
I didn’t look at all the “horribly aged celebs” because you can get the gist about the horribly shallow and bigoted writer very fast. The post opens with side-by-side images of Brigitte Bardot aged 20-something and 70-something cruelly captioned:
“Brigitte Bardot was one of the most beautiful women that ever lived. Now she is crazy, old and looks like she smells of cat urine.”
Of course there’s the flipside to age-bashing but it’s not covered in mainstream media and I doubt that the Feminist Current article Aging while female is not your worst nightmare was as widely read. Surely the issue of age-bashing shouldn’t be of concern only to feminists?
Let’s end with some final thoughts on ageing from Brigitte Bardot herself.
Sure, she’s far from perfect with some troubling connections to far right politics and accusations of being racist, an ti-Muslim and anti-gay. I’m not holding her up as the ideal woman in any way.
Like all of us she’s a mixture of good and bad, possibly exacerbated by what practically amounts to child abuse – she was 15 when movie director Roger Vadim discovered her and married her not long after.
After multiple suicide attempts and husbands Bardot now runs an animal sanctuary and dedicates herself to to animal rights activism.
Bardot has never resorted to cosmetic surgery or avoided the cruel gaze of the mirror. She withstands ageing with dignity and says about ageing:
“I gave my youth and my beauty to men, I am now giving my wisdom and my experience, the best of myself, to animals,”
Refuses to fade into the background, is passionate and fights for a cause.
For many women fading beauty and youth is a release. Now we can move on to the important stuff.
Who or what will you give your wisdom and experience to as you age?
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Quite right to get angry about that daft article. Which I won’t bother reading. Getting older is a relief in many ways. All the evolutionary duties are over and we can get on with our own lives… well, not quite in my case, but am getting there.
It’s not about how we look it’s all about how we feel… and being active and having adventures will always keep a spring in my shoes, I betcha.
Totally agree with you about ageing being a relief and about positive ageing being linked to staying active and adventurous :)
Well said, Annabel :) This youth centric culture gets right up my nose too! Being an oldie myself I thought that Brigitte Bardot still looks beautiful, she has great bone structure, an open symmetrical face and a wonderful head of hair which I presume is her own. That she still has enough energy to fight for a cause is admirable. I wonder how the writer of the article you linked to would match up against an aged Bardot? Methinks she, among many others would most likely fall well short despite their youth.
Haha, I’d love to see the writer and Bardot go head to head. She has more spark and passion than most people half her age. I’m sure she gets such bad press because she refuses to conform to society’s idea of ageing and how older women should look and behave as they age. However dodgy her political outlook may be I applaud her for that.
I’m not sure if the writer is male or female though I would assume it is a male! The good news is that he/she is going to age too! Ageing allows us to ignore articles such as this and continue to live our lives how we want to.
I am so over age bashing, gender shaming, fat shaming…ALL of it! Unless you are perfect, which, of course, no one is, keep your damn critiques to yourself!
Well done Annabel, for calling them out!