How gorgeous is Monica Bellucci??? And how thrilling is it that, at 50, she is to become the newest Bond girl? Youth is beautiful, no doubt. All slim limbs and smooth skin. And it has its place. Like Dubai. New and shiny and sleek. But Bellucci, like Italy, the home of her birth, has a richness and beauty that cannot be matched by brand spanking new.
I am so delighted that women closer to my own age rather than my lovely niece’s are increasingly perceived as sexy and attractive despite the fact that they are not 25. How wasteful and unreasonable to have just one barometer of beauty. Happily of late, mature actresses like Julianne Moore, Helen Mirren and now Belluccci are all the rage at the cinema.
Amy Zimmerman in the DAILY BEAST sums it up this way. “Bellucci’s casting, with its added implication that a 46-year-old action hero could actually be attracted to a woman his own age, is a great step forward.”
But old biases remain.
Following the death of a handsome 60 year old acquaintance, a female friend said about his widow, “It is so awful for her to be left alone, especially at this age.” Hey, I know 30 year olds who can’t get a date. But the fact that another woman would comment so pessimistically about a member of her own sex shows the pervasiveness of the perspective that an older woman is somehow doomed to a life of diminishing value.
More telling was the dire prediction of financial ruin by another mature, beautiful, smart friend of mine who had lost her job in broadcasting and was unconvinced she’d find another. “I am pretty much clinically depressed over my job search,” she wrote. “And I’ve heard other stories from people my age. There’s a nasty little trick online applications use. While we know they can never ask your age, they always ask what year you graduated from college. Bingo. So I’m screwed.” she said. She went on to tell me about another position she wanted to apply for. “But my best friend said ‘don’t bother’. In a million years they would never hire a person of retirement age.”
Really? In the UK they are trying to push retirement to 70 so people will not have to depend on the state for pension payouts. Why wouldn’t you want to hire someone who had years of experience and really wanted to work? How about signing a waiver that reads “When I become unfit and drool and cannot see the computer anymore you can let me go? No lawsuits. No tears. Just let me in first?
I remember being in my thirties and in a senior position in a television newsroom when a story broke about the death of a popular former governor of our state. I was anchoring the 11:00 news and assumed of course that we would be leading with that story. But the youngster who was producing our show dismissed the obituary as “boring” and “unimportant”. Then, an hour later she got wind that all the other TV stations had the governor’s death as their lead story, so we had to scramble to get our story on the air. I was fuming. She took notice. “What’s the problem?” she inquired. “The problem,” I almost shrieked, “is that I am tired of being the smartest person in the room.” I am not actually sure that I was the smartest but I certainly was the most experienced and that night it showed.
Experience is a great commodity. Remember the “Miracle on the Hudson?” I’ll wager a fair sum of cash that those people who were aboard 57-year-old Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger’s flight the day he miraculously put their troubled plane down on the Hudson River were damn grateful they had him as a pilot rather than some newbie. Sullenberger had logged 19,663 flight hours up to that pivotal point in his career. His words following the averted disaster poignantly describe the value of seasoned employees in the workplace: “One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.” What a guy !
Ageism does not get the attention it deserves. Then again it is the aggrieved party that stands to gain the most by improving their own lot. Nobody else has the incentive….except us. So, refuse to buy “anti-aging”products from purveyors who ridiculously use models barely out of adolescence in their advertisements. How dumb do they think we are? Don’t pay Hollywood the ticket price to movies that consistently only acknowledge young love or young sex rather than a more mature version. Ignore shops whose help doesn’t look like you. Make a pass at a younger man. Wear a short skirt. Or apply for those jobs that are traditionally “young” ones and challenge why smooth skin is a more valuable commodity than experience and wisdom.
Come to the battle of attitudinal change armed with good ammunition. There is plenty of it around. “Today, one in three Americans is now 50 or older,” according to transgenerational.org. “Each year more than 3.5 million Boomers turn 55. “ The face of 50 is a beautiful one. Wear it well.
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