Forty-two year old women everywhere will breathe a little easier knowing that this year Esquire Magazine decreed their age as ”most alluring.” Somehow this is supposed to be good news to women in their forties who have been waiting with baited breath to find out whether they can actually leave home without fearing whether or not men, and especially the sexist journalist Tom Junod who wrote the piece “In Praise of 42-Year-Old Women,” will find them attractive.
Having turned forty-two a few months ago I can honestly tell you that I don’t give a crap whether I turn heads or not. My identity and my self-worth are not determined by the ranking of women by a bunch of sexist men. On July 10, the day Junod’s article was released, I didn’t run to my magazine shop, newsstand, or computer to find out whether I might still be alluring. And, contrary to what journalist/caveman Tom Junod might think, there never was something “tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two year-old women.” Rating women as “even the most beautiful” implies that the men at Esquire still think ranking women is a reasonable thing to do. Not to mention that ranking women who in their almighty opinion are deemed “beautiful” as superior indicates that these men are still stuck in the Dark Ages seeing women only as objects of beauty or not.
Instead of running to the newsstand to find out whether I truly had any value as a 42-year-old woman, I went about my day writing health activist articles, working on my 17th book, spending time with my amazing husband who thankfully is nothing like the idiots at Esquire, spent time with my supportive parents, and tended to my organic garden. I also received an e-mail from a woman about the same age as me telling me how my work had inspired her to change her life and that she’d overcome a terminal illness as a result. I may have had a fulfilling day, but who could really breathe fully without knowing whether I might be “alluring” at 42?
Esquire Magazine—the expert-in-all-things-objectifying-and-sexualizing-of-women doesn’t even rank on my list of worthwhile publications, so its “ranking of the ages (of women)” is completely meaningless to me.
And when Tom Junod tells me to consider how 42-year old celebrities “now grac(e) our culture” I really can’t be bothered. But I can consider the many wonderful forty- , fifty-, sixty-, seventy-, and older (as well as younger) women I’ve been blessed to know and how they’ve affected me and how they’ve made the world a better place—not just by being outwardly beautiful but inwardly beautiful, and smart, and courageous and caring. And, not one of these women will thank Junod for his useless observations about forty-two-year old women, nor will they stop everything great they were doing for the world to see if they measure up on the attractiveness scale, and whether they are among the “most alluring” women. They won’t determine their self-worth by any man and whether some man still wants to sleep with them.
I can almost hear the sarcastic laughter and disdain as journalist Lee Marshall at The Globe and Mail writes about Junod‘s article, “It’s quite a revelation because, until recently, a woman in her early-mid forties was only valued by society for pumping out children, notes Junod. Now that same woman can reclaim the traits she bid adieu to with her fading youth, namely beauty, and sex appeal. Quit your day job, put on a negligee, fry up the bacon your hubby brings home and feed it to him. You’re simply wasting your adorable time with everything else you think is important.”
Junod’s sexism-that-passes-as-journalism fails to mention the brilliant scientists discovering health cures that will save lives or the politicians who are passing important laws, or doctors who are saving lives on a daily basis, the activists making global change, the entrepreneurs heading up great businesses, and the myriad other women who are truly beautiful whether Esquire magazine says so or not. And, next year when I turn 43, I won’t be running to the newsstand to find out whether I might still be “alluring.” I’ve got better things to do.
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