Where Age Is No Object: Ghana

At MORE we believe we’re not getting older; the lighting’s just getting worse! We also believe that America’s youth obsession is not shared around the globe. Proving our point is this woman from Ghana, where aging is celebrated as part of inner beauty

by Julia Savacool
woman in front of large tree image
Melanie Kasise: In Ghana, a strong moral compass and good health are highly valued.
Photograph: Christian Witkin

American culture may tell us it’s all downhill after 18, but our own eyes tell us that while a woman can’t be forever young, she can be perceived as forever beautiful. Especially if she lives in France. Or India. Or Ghana. Or a surprising number of other places where one’s value doesn’t diminish after adolescence. And though there’s no denying the worldwide creep of America’s fondness for the under-30 set (China, known for its veneration of parents and grandparents, now has the second-highest face-lift rate in the world), not every country buys into that concept. Read on for locales where age brings rewards.

Sirigu, Ghana
Melanie Kasise

In Ghana, a strong moral compass and good health are highly valued.

Who she is Kasise, a retired teacher, a traditional artist and the founder of Sirigu Women’s Organization for Pottery and Art (SWOPA), is the winner of the Portrait of an Excellent Woman Award, a national contest organized by the social-marketing company Shear Power Ventures, which recognizes female role models in local communities.

Ghanaian beauty defined “Beauty is a reflection of a woman’s moral life, love of her family and community,” says Kasise. Of course, she says, it doesn’t hurt to have dimples, a space between your front teeth and a pointed nose, all considered attractive in Ghanaian society.

Why aging is attractive “In Ghana, beauty is marked by the caring nature of a woman, her sacrificial offer of services to her neighbors and community,” says Kasise. Older women with many skills and experiences to share are valuable—and therefore beautiful—in the eyes of their community.

How you know when you’ve arrived Those with the most wisdom and experience receive a title of respect: Mama. “Most women are proud to be called Mama,” explains Kasise, known at SWOPA as Mama Melanie. “It is an honor to be regarded this way.”

The Ghanaian beauty regimen “I’ve always wanted to be the best of myself, no matter my age,” says Kasise. “I believe in the statement ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness,’ and I try to live by it. I also walk a lot and work in my garden, and I love vegetables.”

Next: Where Age Is No Object: Malaysia

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First published in the December 2012/January 2013 issue

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