Dear Woman, Do You Know You Will Always Be Beautiful?
What I've always been told is that a woman's beauty is one of the first things she'll lose.
That my beauty will fade, but a man will be forever young. But none of it is true — my beauty will not fade since it comes from within. Nor will a man remain young. We will all age beautifully. None more than the other.
Someone told women that their beauty and charm have an expiry date, and they believed them.
‘’ Do you know that fat girl’s ages faster?”
“Those skinny girls wrinkle early.”
“Tall women have to watch the way they move”.
Short women grow shorter with age.
Do you know that a woman ages faster than a man? That life taints her, and she becomes unable to make a man happy.
No matter who you are as a woman, the rod of criticism will always strike you.
In my first year at university, one of my roommates got married. We were over 20 hostel classmates that attended the wedding. When I first heard of her wedding, I thought she was too young to marry because she was barely 18. Most of us in that hostel of the private university were not even 17 yet.
During the church ceremony, the Reverend prayed for us, the bride’s teenage friends, to find our own husbands soon because a woman doesn’t have time. He said that we needed urgently to find a way to land a man quickly before we got old. ‘A woman’s beauty doesn’t last long’ he added, and the church murmured in agreement.
Allure Magazine conducted a survey that found women reached their peak at 31. While men reported feeling their most confident between 50 and 69 years old, the survey didn’t ask when men started to lose their looks.
Why are we so hard on women?
I remember my paternal grandmother had gray hair in her 60s. By the time she died in her 80s, she had a full head of white hair. So when I started graying at 32, I didn’t think much of it.
However, when I went to the salon, some hairdressers would ask me why I was graying, as if it was a very bad thing that I was responsible for, as if my body was failing me in a way.
The first time I was asked, I felt ashamed. The question would take me aback, and I would explain that some members of my family grayed early, not that I owed anybody one.
We are also hard on unmarried women. I know women who have married men they shouldn’t be with because they dread the curse of being 30 and unmarried. I like to think I am brave, but I remember when a friend brought her Aso-Ebi (this is a uniform fabric all her friends are supposed to buy) that day. She told me I shouldn’t be a fine girl for nothing. “Please quickly bring a man, let us attend your wedding. God forbids you to get to 30 and there is no man to marry.” Of course, I am paraphrasing here. But I got the point and I was not even 30 years old.
Another set of people we are harsh on are middle-aged women. A middle-aged woman is regarded as too old, is not sexy, and is not expected to regard herself as beautiful. Comments like, Mama, it’s daddy’s time to feel young, please face your grandchildren.
Even if she doesn’t have grandchildren, she will still be expected to retreat to the background. Her new preoccupation will be praying for her children, and acting her age around her husband.
The husband, who is typically older, is regarded as more vibrant and forgiven should he cheat, because men will be men, and as they say, ‘Take a look at his wife, she is old and cannot make him happy in bed. Let her leave sexual satisfaction for the younger women’.
One woman received a message from her husband’s much younger mistress. The mistress called her an old witch who had enough love from the man and should graciously accept defeat. Her time is up. When she showed the message to her pastor. He was dismayed, but agreed with the mistress. ‘Madam, you have to ignore this girl, face your children, they will bring you happiness. The pastor said this with a touch of impatience.
There is Pressure to Never Age
We have been conditioned to believe that old age for women is a burden.
In this same survey, 84 percent of men and 91 percent of women say women are under more pressure to appear younger than men. And perhaps logically, while 56 per cent of women are worried about the physical signs of aging, only 34 per cent of men are
Also, even though sex for women gets better in old age, the pool of willing partners dwindles as women age. According to a survey, only a third of baby boomers still find women their age attractive.
According to this WHO report, women have more reasons to fear age than men. From not having access to health security to vulnerability to STI women, who live longer than their spouses, they suffer more disabilities that come with old age.
Women still have no control over how they are perceived. They still get laughed at for forgetting they are old. For even daring to think they can compete with younger blood. Growing up, the derogatory term “old mama youngy” was used to describe older women who wore makeup, dressed stylishly, kept up with the trends or were considered besties with their partner. The most laughed at who didn’t accept the stereotypes and tried to live like they were young.
Everywhere you turn, there is someone somewhere waiting to remind you that old age is calling.
You can be beautiful no matter your age
Physical beauty is relative, but as women age, changes in their looks push them farther away from the widely accepted beauty appeal. Her arms are no longer toned, wrinkles and age spots have started to appear, gray hair and less hair growth, a more prominent stomach in some, all these are signs of aging. And the dilemma of women around me is that, on one hand you are expected to accept it, age and the notion that the sun has set for you - and on the other hand, you are also expected to fight it.
Some of the changes that come with age can be cosmetically or surgically managed (in extreme cases). Some require lifestyle changes and a shift in mindset. And some changes, nothing can be done about.
Whatever the case may be, a woman is beautiful regardless of what time does to her body. Her beauty does not fade because it comes from within.
Beauty doesn't fade.