“Men age like wine, women like milk”.
Although aging is the natural process of life, it is avoided at all costs. And this is mainly due to the fact that we bump into our finitude at its first signs. It is difficult to dissociate aging from the disease, limitations, sagging skin, memory loss and addiction. After all, until recently, this was the reality of our older generations. Therefore, we tried to hide it at any cost, as if this attempt had the power to postpone it or prevent it from establishing itself.
But why are we women the most affected?
From a natural standpoint, a person unable to reproduce is useless biological material. That is, when we stop reproducing, we lose our value! When a woman reaches her 40s, she becomes invisible. And then we ended up following this concept, invented by I don't know who, To the letter, which says that “women need to grow old with dignity”. Translated, we cannot look our real age. We always have to resort to mechanisms that allow us to appear at most 35 years old.
What is this madness?
Let's go back in time a little bit to understand the story behind this.
As history tells us and archeological studies prove, there was a time when a “matrifocal” culture ruled our civilization. Such a culture is called “matrifocal,” and not “matriarchal,” due to the fact that it does not allow, mainly, hierarchical distinctions between men and women. There being no relationships based on power, individuals were related to the principle of collective work and community life where there was no room for wars, threats and destruction of their fellow men. Life was totally governed by the relationship between the individual and nature. Women, by their menstrual cycles and fertility and gestation, were directly related to the cycles of nature. The land itself was considered the “great mother,” the one who nurtured and sustained those who depended on her, hence the importance given to the “feminine” aspect, both of the human being and of the land she inhabited. The individual was totally absorbed and integrated into nature, its cycles of life and death, and care when dealing with the land, as its existence and continuity came from it.
Bruno Vinicius Kutelak Dias e Regina Helena Urias Cabreira.
As American scholar Joseph Campbell explains: “There is no doubt that at the earliest times in man's history the magical and mysterious force of the female was as wonderful as the universe itself; and this has given women prodigious power, power that has been one of the greatest concerns of the male part of the population - how to break it, control it and use it for their own ends.” Disagreements caused between the feminine and the masculine have been present in our civilization since 4,000 BC.
In the Middle Ages, women known as witches were nothing more than older women, experienced and who had the necessary knowledge to deal with life and death. They were the healers and counselors of the time. They were seen as wise women and participated in common life.
At the end of the 14th century and the middle of the 15th century, at the time of the inquisition, wise women became the target of the then inquisitors. The witch hunt, as it became known, was supported by a series of theoretical justifications invented by priests across Europe, who constructed a new narrative about these women. They were transformed into the personification of the forces of evil and were associated with the practice of black magic and devil worship. After all, they were contradicting Christian dogma. This has only increased the tensions that already exist between men and women. And even with the end of the Inquisition, even in the 18th century this image remained. "The image we have of witches are constructions that emerged with the sole purpose of maintaining a power structure that subjugates the feminine and maintains the supremacy of the masculine. They are remnants of an institutionalized criminalization of the free, wise woman who owns her own path", explain Waldyr Imbroisi and Lucas Miranda.
Do you know who this free woman is, wise and owner of her own way? A mature woman! The woman who, unlike men, does not have her aging associated with her experience. Her value was simply reduced to her physical appearance.
“Men's old age is more positive, because it's not so focused on the body's appearance. Men can get old, have wrinkles, get fat and have white hair that is not so charged”.
Miriam Goldenberg, anthropologist...
And accepting this condition, we live in a relentless search for the youthful image, for the healthy appearance and for the beauty linked to social models, trying to fit us into the standards that are imposed by the media and industries, which, by the way, are fully interested in seeing us insecure, because insecurity sells a lot! Having smooth skin, without blemishes, wrinkles or expression lines, having straight, dyed and hydrated hair, having a youthful and thin body, without cellulite, stretch marks, varicose veins, without localized fat and silicone breasts and always having a wardrobe updated with the latest fashion trends cost dearly!
We are able to spend what we don't have just to be accepted. We are terrified of judgments! Therefore, everything that goes against the ideal of beauty in this social context causes us embarrassment. And so, we followed the herd. After all, maintaining a natural appearance in old age is synonymous with sloppiness.
But after all, what is this maturity thing really for?
Aging needs to be naturalized. And there is no stage better than ripe old age for us to put this into practice. At this stage of life, we cannot afford to waste time on what adds nothing to us. We understand that the signs of time and marks on our bodies are the result of our experiences and even our struggles. We really should be proud of them. Imagine if I want to erase the signs that the birth of my children left in my body! Imagine that friend who has a scar from a war won against cancer!
Photo: GC Images
It's time to make peace with our appearance and appreciate all these changes that time brings us. This concept of beauty associated with youth is outdated and it's up to us to spread it! There is beauty at all ages and to see it we may have to open our minds, train our eyes and stop judging. Starting with ourselves. It is not easy to get rid of mass concepts for an entire existence. This is a matter of training! Let's reprogram our concept of beauty.
“If the image is strange to us, it is because the mirror is mistaken about the reflected image and does not represent all that we are; it only represents us imaginarily and, thus, allows the appearance of what one does not want to see, something that is particular to each one of us. This perception of strangeness is influenced by the mass diffusion of current aesthetic standards, which causes a decrease in our self-esteem and quality of life.”
Eliane Jost Blessmann
Photo: Instagram @madonna
Let us be free to live this new phase of our lives as we wish. The important thing is to feel good about the person we are becoming, after all we are still under construction. Beauty will be present in our essence and will be expressed through our attitudes and behaviors. Age is not a barrier for us to continue discovering, learning, evolving, realizing and maintaining our essence. As Madonna would say, "The outdated, patriarchal idea that a woman needs to stop being fun, curious, adventurous, beautiful or sexy after 40 is ridiculous."
It's not about getting older, it's about continuing to do what you used to, staying active and creative. “I never think I'm fighting age. I'm just getting on with my life like I always did. I was never complacent. I've never felt comfortable (…) If you keep putting yourself in new and challenging situations, then you stay alive and young”, declared the singer.