The Contradictions of Aging

Read Lesley Jane Seymour's May 2012 editor's letter here

Lesley Jane Seymour • Editor-in-Chief
lesley jane seymour more editor in chief image
Photograph: Greg Delves

Some of you say you have a bone to pick with More. In your letters, you often ask how we can run empowering pieces about coming to terms with aging a few quick page-turns away from beauty stories about how to disguise wrinkles. You suggest there’s a disconnect between celebrating the joys and freedoms of maturity while at the same time running ads for products and services intended to help women look younger.

Well, guess what? You’re right! It is a contradiction. But here’s the truth: After spending four years at Morestudying the country’s conflicted attitude toward aging—especially women’s aging, which is its own ugly hair ball—I hypothesize that most of us have gotten only midway to acceptance of growing older. We’re happy with the emotional benefits of our life stage but less happy with looking our chronological age. (If you’ve achieved total acceptance nirvana, please share your secret with the rest of us!)

But look how far we’ve come. In 1998, when More launched, just putting a woman over 40 on the cover was subversive; the old More model search, in which one 40-plus reader won a modeling contract, was seen as insane. But it helped pave the way for a breakthrough: In 2010 three of the top fashion magazines—Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar—featured 40-plus actresses on their September covers.

Has age prejudice disappeared? Nope. A friend of mine lost her job and had to color her gorgeous gray hair in order to find a new one. Single friends complain that the majority of men frequenting online dating sites are interested in meeting only younger women. (Hypocrisy check: Women often say they don’t want to date “70-year-old geezers.”) And if you’ve ever wondered why that old goat of an actor still gets to make love onscreen to women 15 years his junior, I can clear that up. According to an agent friend (who insisted on anonymity), that age spread is written into the goat’s contract! For Hollywood women, of course, ageism is so harsh that many actresses who’d love to revel in their maturity dare not, lest they set fire to their paychecks.

So what does all this mean? That adult life is full of contradictions; there’s almost no black and white, just shades of gray. It means I thrill to find a treatment that will erase sunspots (see my laser adventure on page 58 in the May 2012 issue, on newsstands now), but I don’t want to entirely eliminate the eye crinkles that record how often I’ve smiled at whatever was happening in my life. Let me know how you see it in the comment section below.

Learn Lesley's slow-down secrets here.

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First Published Tue, 2012-04-03 09:10

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