• Wed, Jul 20 2011

Chasing Thirty: Are You Afraid Of Losing Your Looks?

Andrea is on a quest to check off a bucket list of items in her 29th year. You can read more about her adventures at her blog, Thirty-Things.

I was on a long car trip during a bachelorette trip recently and we got into the kind of long, winding conversations that tend to happen when a group of women are in a confined space. The ages of those in the car ranged from mid-twenties to mid thirties.

The friend in her mid-thirties seemed a little disenchanted with the age, which she said everyone talks up like it’s some golden era in one’s life. In talking about what she wasn’t so fond of getting into her mid-thirties, she hit on something that felt almost taboo once she’d said it, that she was worried she was losing her looks. It used to be that every head would turn when she’d walk into a room and now, it just didn’t feel like her presence had the same effect.

Not to invalidate her experience or anything but the friend in question is smoking hot so I have trouble believing she’s become invisible to men just yet. All the same it was unsettling, was I being naïve thinking that aging worries were still far off on the horizon?

Of course, I suppose how much you worry about ‘losing’ your looks is directly tied to how much you valued and/ or relied on them in the first place. I’m not going to pretend for a moment that I don’t care about my looks or what others think of them but I’ve always cared about my intelligence/ athleticism/ creativity at least as much if not more probably because I was raised to believe that things were valuable (yay parents!).

I feel like a bad feminist even contemplating the idea that I will somehow feel lesser as I age but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t scare me at all, or if I told you that I’m unfazed by finding the occasional gray hair lately. The conundrum of what to do about the gray (which comes on early in my family) is one that I know will get louder, what are you going to do about it? Let it go or start pouring money into coloring it? Is dying away premature grays a slippery slope to botox and facelifts down the line?

Off course, there is a lot of money to be made off of instilling this fear in women. The Real Housewives of Every Affluent Zip Code Ever didn’t get like that because they felt secure about aging.

And you know what? It’s bullshit. We’re all doomed to spending the first half of our lives feeling fat and the second half feeling old? I, for one, am not going out like that. And unlike the assault of diet products that started getting shoved down my throat at age ten or so, maybe I can be mature enough to see this onslaught for what it is and not give into it.

And before anybody goes all Lori Gotlieb on me and points out that we should all be afraid, that men go for young women because biology; I don’t want to be with a man who doesn’t recognize that woman are human beings who age accordingly- I didn’t want that kind of man when I was twenty four, I don’t want him now and I really don’t imagine wanting him ten years from now.

There are plenty of beautiful older women out there (Helen Mirren, Susan Surandon, Jamie Lee Curtis) and it occurs to me that it’s not so much a question of losing one’s looks as much as having them change. My mother will be sixty next year and she’s stunning ; she was always lovely but there’s something more interesting about the way she looks now, like she’s earned it.

I’m not going to say I’m completely against getting work done: it’s deeply unfair the way our society sets up unrealistic expectations for women and then judges them for trying to do something about it; they get you coming and going. But I do think it would be a missed opportunity in some ways to never see how your face would change on its own.

I’m still probably going to dye my hair though.

From Our Partners

Share This Post:
  • Sarah

    One of the things that doesn’t get talked about, too, is that people really “peak” (if that really means anything) at different points. There are always those people who are perfection at 18 and then it’s downhill from there. I’m only 24, but I’m still definitely growing into my features and my body, and I know people who look much better at 30 or 40 than they ever did before.

  • Teri

    I get more attention from very attractive men at 38 than I ever did in my twenties. I am 60 pounds lighter than I was in my late twenties and have confidence through the roof. But the weight isn’t really what got men’s attention. I have several male friends, whom, I have known since childhood and paid no attention to me. Now many have expressed interest in me, citing that I look different. I am content with my looks now but do have concerns about losing them and if I get to the point where it is making me crazy them I will absolutely take measures to preserve my looks but I am a pretty crappy feminist sometimes. How I look and feel about myself is important to me and I want to maintain that for as long as possible.

  • Crystal

    I agree with what Sarah said about “peaking”. I turn 30 in 2 months and I’m still waiting to peak, haha! I know this sounds ridiculously whinge-y, but I look freakishly young for my age and I’m kind of sick of people being shocked to learn how old I am. I know I look young, but that always makes me feel really old, if that makes sense.
    In any case, I generally feel that I’ve gotten better looking as I’ve aged, plus all my older relatives look amazing, so I’ve never been scared of losing my looks. I really am looking forward to seeing how I look as I get older, and that includes grey hair and wrinkles!

  • Lurkeress

    Afraid of losing my looks? Are you fucking kidding me? I mean, seriously. A couple of months before I turned 30 (in January this year) I said something on facebook about approaching the age and one of my acquaintances said something along the lines of “You might not look as good but you can do blah blah blah.” My immediate response to her was, “How the *&$@ do know I don’t look as good? I look better than I ever did in my teens or early twenties.”

    Losing your looks is clearly a subjective thing. I have good genes so people still think I’m 23. I’m not – I’m 30. The downside is not being taken seriously in the professional environment because people think I’m younger than I am. That’s bollocks. What I really mean to say is, no, I’m not afraid of losing my looks. Not because I’ve never traded on them – I’m an extremely good-looking woman and I’m happy to take any perks that are sent my way because I’m attractive – but because I don’t identify myself by my looks.

    What I did at 28, I can totally do at 33. Regardless of my looks. Does it help to be attractive? Of course. Is it the be-all and end-all? Of course the fuck not.

    Worried about losing your looks? What does that even mean?

  • Sarah

    Wow – I never thought this issue would affect me – EVER!!! I am now 48, but kept my 25 year old body, skin and perfect figure until 46. Good genetics, yes of course – but it is hard to transfer from the female (teens, 20′s, 30′s 40′s) looking absolutely natural and fabulous to all of the sudden, overnight, the “change” happens, (too early I thought) and my skin suddenly isn’t so supple, nor is my body what it has always been – perfect! It’s very interesting how more people (men mostly) are open and ready to help someone extremely attractive. Now I feel just about invisible , and am getting carded for the first time since I was 18 – and it sucks!!!! Of course with tons of cash, I will get the continuing Botox, and Collagen and Oxygen Face Masks, along with many other perks and tucks.

    Myself, I was naturally perfectually beautiful until the age of 46 – and woke up at 48 asking who the hell is that in the mirror?

    It is so strange, so depressing, and so sad…….Yes I still have my fabulous personality, along with my high intelligence and worldly knowledge. Now, nobody is interested ……………………..so strange…………….I never thought getting old would be bad, but in the last 2 years, it has been a far cry from being naturally beautiful all of my life until 46 – at least I made it that far! lol

  • Joseph

    I lost mine between 27-31`because I spent too much time in the sun unprotected, experimented with skin bleaching products which reduced my skin’s natural protection from the sun (melanin), and ate a very unhealthy, junkfood fuelled diet. It’s largely photo aging. At 32 my once smooth clear skin is now weatherbeaten, with very large pores, and I have adult acne. I now know more than most that you are what you eat.