This is a side by side of two women gracing the front covers of two well known magazines.
The one on the right we all know is Martha Stewart, age 81. The one on the left is Apo Whang-Od, age 106, a tribal tattooist in a remote province in the Philippines.
There seems to be an unwritten rule which equates beauty with youngness. In an interview, Martha Stewart told the reporter she credits her organic, home-grown, farm-to-table eating, yoga, and actively healthy lifestyle to her youthfulness. While that’s an admirable journey for her, let’s not forget the amount of privilege that kind of lifestyle requires.
On the left is Apo Whang-Od, who is a 106-year-old tribal tattooist in the Philippines. The wisdom she carries in every forehead wrinkle and frown line is stunning. Her eyes are glass, reflecting back all that she’s witnessed over a century of lived experiences. Her tattoos a reminder of the ancestors she seeks to honor.
Both women are beautiful in their own right. But I wish we as women didn’t play into this idea that we have to look younger—and thinner—in order to fit some unrealistic beauty standard which will grant us acceptance and relevance in the world around us.
I’m writing this for any woman who, like me, may have had a punched-gut reaction to seeing an octogenarian in a swimsuit on the cover of a magazine looking more like a woman in her forties or fifties: Anti-aging is not a beauty standard.
There IS beauty in wrinkles, and saggy skin, and drooping breasts. These are markers of a life hard fought for and well lived. It seems odd to try and erase these battle scars.
So while I applaud Martha for her fortunate body, carefully curated procedures, and pristinely styled makeup, I also applaud Whang-Od for what others may perceive as imperfections.
Anti-aging is not a beauty standard.
Credit: Maya Pounds