Wissot: Women held to different standard than men when it comes to the beauty of youth (column)
Time is a hard taskmaster and an even stingier paymaster.
There is a reason there are no 60-year-old quarterbacks in the NFL or that Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxer, is the only man older than 40 among the 10 highest paid athletes in the world (“Forbes top 10 highest-paid athletes,” USA Today, June 6, 2018).
When it comes to the movies, both gender and age play a prominent role. Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson were the two highest paid actors in 2017, making a combined $133 million. Wahlberg is 47 and Johnson is 46.
Emma Stone is the highest paid actress at age 29. She made $26 million last year. No. 3, Jennifer Lawrence, and No. 6, Emma Watson, are also in their late 20s. Mila Kunis at No. 5 is 35. Only Jennifer Aniston, the second highest paid actress, and Melissa McCarthy, the fourth, break the age 40 barrier. They are both in their late 40s. The only actress older than 50 to crack the top 10 was Julia Roberts. She made a paltry $12 million.
The combined annual income of the six highest paid actresses, $122 million, falls short of how much Wahlberg and Johnson raked in last year (“Full List: The world’s highest-paid actors and actresses 2017,” Forbes, Aug. 27, 2017).
Hollywood places a premium on looks for both men and women. But men are paid much more for theirs and get to keep their huge paychecks longer as they age.
All is fair in love and war and sports and movies. I say that because these celebrated athletes and entertainers knew what they were signing up for when they entered their highly competitive and highly age-sensitive professions. They knew what the rules were from the get go, even if they didn’t like them or found them unfair.
The same cannot be said for the approximately 168 million women in the United States who are all not destined for careers in the movies and entertainment.
Women at all ages are evaluated and valued on the basis of their looks. The scrutiny worsens as they age because the comparisons begin to be made with how well they look when judged alongside younger women.
There is nothing quite like the freshness and radiance of youth. It’s not just that their faces aren’t wrinkled and their bodies naturally toned. It’s that they glow. They look to me like the wonderful Palisade peaches we purchase at the Vail farmers market. Just before they ripen, they glow with a natural luster that is sensually arresting.
I have photos of myself in my 20s and 30s, when my face had that same glow, that same luster, that same vitality. I don’t want to say that I look now in my 70s like that same peach does after it has sat out too long and has begun to soften and discolor, but I’m getting close.
I’m getting close, folks.
I’m a man in my 70s, and it doesn’t matter to me that I look old. But that’s because I’m a man and I’m not judged harshly for having aged. But women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond are not given an aging pass.
What’s wrong with a woman looking her age as she ages? Most women aren’t movie stars. They’re not professional athletes. Time shouldn’t be their enemy. They aren’t being asked to perform on the screen or on the field.
Women who I knew and were beautiful when they were in their 40s and 50s still look beautiful to me in their 60s and 70s. Not 40s and 50s beautiful. Not 60s and 70s beautiful — just beautiful; flat-out beautiful.
The glow may be gone. But the same facial architecture, sensual smile, irrepressible charm, soft touch, emotional warmth, playful manner, soulful eyes and mischievous smirk are still present.
Glow looks great on peaches and young faces. But all that sparkles does not glow. As the classic love song reminds us “the fundamentals still apply as time goes by.” I don’t want to lose sight of the fundamental sparkle that sticks around after the glow is gone.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.