Beauty, Self-Esteem and Aging
Sheila Nevins, the film’s producer sees the models as, “their own instruments. What do you do when you’re a Stradivarius and you’re losing your strings?”
And what can ordinary women learn from aging models whose worth seems so dependent on their beauty?
For models, the trouble starts sooner than expected.
Beverly Johnson began modeling when a career lasted only three or four years.
It was frightening. I’m supposedly living this glamorous life, but living in fear and wondering where I will go next. The whole age thing. In this industry it’s everything.
China Machado remembers girls who were “twenty-five years old and worried about their looks because there was a 15-year-old right next to them.”
Over the hill at 25.
Years later, with lines and sagging, the models feel the effects of age in a way that’s more familiar to all women in the second half of life.
I was like, “You’re going to retouch this photograph, aren’t you? We’re supermodels. You’ve got to retouch. We were all calling each other on the phone, asking: “Can you believe this guy? Who does he think he is?” But after awhile, we all felt kind of comfortable in it.
Still, as China Machado saw it, age, itself, isn’t the problem. The problem is perception:
It isn’t that women want to stay young, it’s that the whole society makes us want us to stay young. It has nothing to do with us. You keep thinking you’re going to be judged.
Jerry Hall doesn’t plan on plastic surgery, which she thinks looks weird. “Getting old and sick and dying is no fun,” she says, “but people are living longer and healthier now… and still having sex. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to age? And why shouldn’t we be respected for it? When I reached 50 I felt a sense of achievement. I think that’s something to be celebrated. And when you age you can be a little more eccentric.”
Some days I wake up and I think there’s this new technology, why not use it? But more often I wake up thinking “Is this the new foot binding? Is this the new misogyny? Is this the new way of telling women that they are ugly?” And we set down a lot of standards that are impossible to be reached.
My social status has diminished because I’m not invited to the A parties anymore. What’s missing is the wisdom of the old people. When you get old you don’t count anymore. I think that is the greatest fear of growing old. It used to be that as you aged your social status grew. You gained wisdom and you survived through crises. My mother didn’t seem to be that bothered by old age and that might be why I’m not so affected by aging.
I guess I began to feel I was okay when someone I really loved kissed me. It’s not so much what I’m seeing in the mirror but what I’m feeling in a connection with someone I want to feel close to. I don’t give love through a camera, to give it personally.
Marisa Berenson says that when you get older you must build something else in your core that goes beyond the physical, because you have to.
Maybe these women have. In their pictures I see strength and character, and even defiance in the stances, expressions and lines that mark their faces.
Maybe moving away from façade and into something more substantial is a gift of aging.
Posted on August 28, 2013, in body image, feminism, psychology, sexism, women and tagged About Face: Supermodels, body image, Carmen Dell'Orefice, feminism, HBO, Isabella Rossellini, Jerry Hall, psychology, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.