Although I know it is 2015, there are times I feel like I am still stuck in the sixties.
At the age of sixty eight, I wonder why I am still so vain. I never leave home without all my makeup on, and even at home the minimum requirement is lipstick and mascara just in case someone drops by. Why can’t I just be the natural me and not worry about it? Why do I refuse to ask for the senior discount although I am entitled to it? Why do I feel so good when someone says I don’t look sixty eight? I don’t think I am alone with this vanity issue. My mother-in-law is ninety one and has never wanted to tell her age. A few weeks ago some ladies she had just met told her she didn’t look a day over eighty, and she was thrilled. I thought to myself, “no matter how old women get, being guessed 10 years younger is always a compliment. Younger women love being carded and asked to prove they are twenty one. Where is the line between taking pride in the way we look and vanity? Why aren’t we proud to be sixty eight and eligible for a senior discount? Why do we love being told we look 10 years younger than we are even at ninety one? Why do we enjoy being carded to prove we are twenty one? Well, I think it is because of men like Donald Trump!
When Mr. Trump made his insulting comment about Carly Fiorina’s face a few weeks ago, I felt I had left 2015 and was back in high school during the 1960’s when pretty was all that mattered. I had thought I had reached a time in history when women were now being judged by their character, intellect, and accomplishments and not by their looks. Apparently I was wrong. Women can now be lawyers, doctors, and even possibly the next president of the United States, but we are still being judged by our faces. Mr. Trump’s question was: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? Well, yes, I can! I will not be voting for Mrs. Fiorina, but it won’t be because of her face.
As a child, I can remember that being termed or called pretty was the highest compliment a person could give you. Being smart was never as good as being pretty. Mr. Trump’s words brought that memory back and angered me. How could a man living in 2015 and running for president of our country say anything so insulting and ridiculous to or about a woman? Does he think his wealth and power gives him the freedom to insult women? In high school it was the popular boys who could decide which girls were pretty and which ones were not. His words took me back to those days.
I believe that men like Donald Trump are why I can’t leave the house without all my makeup on and why I don’t like myself in my mirror unless I have on at least lipstick and mascara. What if someone sees me while I am out and thinks I am not pretty? How horrible! Donald Trump and those boys in high school are the reason I can’t embrace my age and ask for my senior discount. What is worse than being an older woman? Mr. Trump and men like him are why women want to look ten years younger.
Mr. Trump says he loves and respects women, but apparently only if they are beautiful and 20-30 years younger like his three wives. Thankfully all men are not like Mr. Trump – my husband being one of them. But when was the last time someone described you as being smart and accomplished? When was the last time you would have preferred that description rather than being described as pretty or ten years younger than you are? Can I really blame Donald Trump and those boys in high school or is it my own vanity that is my worst enemy?
***I wrote this essay somewhat tongue in cheek blaming Mr. Trump for my vanity, but I do believe we pay our daughters a disservice when we allow the descriptor “pretty” to be the ultimate compliment. And, men do still evaluate women on their looks. Why do we accept that evaluation?