Many of us have heard the fallacy that men’s looks improve with age while women’s physical appearance diminishes as the years take their toll. This is sexist nonsense. An imaginary gobbledygook conjured by dudes who are slowly being devoured by their jowls and love-handles.
Looking at celebrities only, that maxim applies to maybe two men. First, let’s look at past “Sexiest Man Alive” winners including: John Travolta, Mel Gibson, Harry Hamlin, Nick Nolte and JFK Jr. None of whom have aged particularly great. Now, more subjective entries include Matthew McConaughey, who, I would argue is not aging alright alright alright. In fact, I’d say, he hasn’t recovered from his extreme weight loss from Dallas Buyers Club/desperate money grab that are those embarrassing Lincoln commercials (I take it all back if he donated it to charity. J/K, he’s an embarrassing sellout). Tell me, defenders of this ridiculous notion that men age better, how “graceful” is Johnny Depp aging? He adds a scarf for every year he ages and is getting a touch crankier/punchier with his paramours. All the mascara and accessories in the world can’t cover up a raging at the dying of sex appeal.
Also, how are we judging this supposed decline of the sexiness of women? The President of the United States took the time to acknowledge Helen Mirren’s sex appeal. Marisa Tomei is in her 50’s and she’s objectively gorgeous, to the point where Robert Downey Jr. (whose aging doesn’t count because he pickled himself with heroin for decades) won’t stop talking about how gorgeous she is in the latest Marvel movie. Sandra Bullock is unassailably stunning. Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani, Julianne Moore, Michelle Pfieffer, I could go on with a list of celebrity women aging like wine just as I can go on and on with a list of celebrity men who are aging like a can of beer opened overnight on a Summer day in Florida*.
Oh, and George Clooney probably had plastic surgery. That’s not a slanderous statement, it’s an acknowledgment that male beauty is as assailable as women’s. It’s feminist, George, so get off my back and tell your lawyers to chill, because I said “maybe,” which is universal for legalese “allegedly.” Besides, George, you’re named “George.” No George before or after you will ever be characterized as “sexy,” so, relax. You’re George “the only George who has ever been called sexy” Clooney, what’s a little eye-tuck surgery? Just admit it, George, and empower several generations of women, instead of what you were doing pre-Amalia, which was a ruthless, sexual disappointment machine.
Maybe we have so fetishized youth and young women that these women who are aging gracefully aren’t given the chances to be as visible. So, before we get the chance to see a woman age under the harsh light of public scrutiny, they’re taken to the same farm my parents took the family dog when I was 8. “Sorry, Rachel Leigh Cook, you broke your leg and had the audacity to turn 30, we have no choice but to let Robert Evans take you out back and Old Yeller you.”
If I had to guess, this entire fallacy was created and perpetuated by gross old dudes who wanted to date age- inappropriate women while grasping at their own fading youth and reveling in their extended adolescence. But that’s just a hunch.
*Other examples: Axel Rose, Charlie Sheen, Val Kilmer, Sean Penn, Macauley Culkin, Mickey Rourke, I could go on. Don’t try to tell me women don’t age as well as men.