Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

It’s a beautiful thing to mature. As life goes on and we keep pushing, it’s astounding to see how the body perseveres and adapts to our needs. For women specifically, we go through so many physical changes in life from puberty, to menstruation, sometimes childbirth, menopause and even other conditions life may throw our way; women continue on extraordinarily.

This point-of-view, or the more holistic understanding of what it is to be an aging woman, isn’t the common narrative heard today, though. The beauty industry, society, and the male gaze have all contributed to the overarching rhetoric that women are not allowed to age peacefully in this day in age because if so, they are deemed undesirable, unattractive and unwanted. 

The beauty industry has strayed away from its main intention and purpose— to give confidence and power back to women through their looks— and has backstabbed women into thinking something is wrong with them naturally. Women are subject to makeup trends, skincare fads, and even permanent cosmetic work in order to blend into this “desirable woman” status quo. In this idea of the “desirable woman,” she must be youthful even despite her age and lived experience, body plump and tight in all the “right” places, free of any physical aging like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, graying hair, etc. 

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Anti-Aging Skincare

This all stems from what society deems as attractive and what individuals in our society perpetuate to be correct or right. From this reasoning, women are given a shelf life, in other words, an expiration date. Once they’re past their 20s (some given the leeway until their 30s), they are considered old and undesirable. Like a banana that is thrown away for getting just too brown, our “ripe” days are behind us. 

Men, on the other hand, are allowed to age gracefully. In fact, society has accepted that men grow better with age. Beauty standards like silver foxes or dad-bods have been so normalized that men are comfortable aging in the public eye, which is perfectly fine. People shouldn’t be criticized for something normal and a part of the human experience. The problem lies in the double standard in which men aging is perceived as more sophisticated, comparing men to aging like whiskey. 

The beauty standard in aging for men is the direct inverse of that for women, distinguishing what society holds and expects from both sexes. While both will age, one will be held so closely to what aging isn’t at all, pressuring women to look even more youthful than they did in their adolescence. 

Related: Grow as I Grow: How I Realized That We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Aging

This raises other important questions to society and the individuals within it. Why is this expectation put on women to look youthful forever? Are we pushing a narrative, either consciously or unconsciously, that only younger-looking women are sexy? Why is it normalized that men only mature in their 30s and above? When did we accept ideas and furthermore when did they start to dominate society’s beauty standards? 

Ultimately, I would argue that society has once again prioritized men in their decision making and let women slip through the cracks. To be clear, I don’t want to argue that men should be afraid or be put under the same pressure women face in aging, but rather that the bar should be set at the same pedestal. With the bar set so low, any change is a step in the right direction for aging men, which just isn’t fair. Women shouldn’t have to feel like a public spectacle when aging, no one should. 

Aging should be embraced as a welcoming into a new season of life where we can finally take a deep breath and be accepting of ourselves and our bodies.

Fiorella Izquierdo

George Mason University '23

Fiorella Izquierdo is a senior at George Mason University currently studying Communication with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in Graphic Design. She is happiest when she is has a magazine in one hand and a chai latte in the other. Music, film, and fashion are some of her other passions, although she can bake like no other. In the future, Fiorella hopes to work as a creative director and travel the world doing what she loves!
Similar Reads👯‍♀️