Diary / Beauty / Sep 26, 2022
Aging & the Double Standards of Feminism
Written by: Robin Levine Shobin
Photography by: Robin Levine Shobin
I'm approaching 40 any day now, and I want to look and feel my best. For me this means putting self-care first, way more than I did in my 20s or early 30s. I eat right, work out, get regular massages and microcurrent facials, and yes, I get Botox. And filler. And lasers. And Ulthera. And anything else I can do to fend off the signs of aging.
But lately I’m feeling more and more embarrassed about it. There’s always been a sense of shame associated with Botox, cosmetic treatments, surgery, or any alterations made in the pursuit of “youth.” But lately it’s getting worse, not better. Don’t you think?
2017 was revolutionary (though long overdue) in terms of women’s progress. Thank goodness! Although we still have a long way to go, we’ve made some important strides in feminism.
But one thing feminism (and my feminist friends) seem to be telling me is that my vanity is bad. Very bad. And that making changes to my body and face to fend off aging, is, in fact, against the values of female empowerment.
Suddenly I find myself ashamed to care so much about my crow’s feet and dulling skin. Apparently putting any sort of injection in your face in the pursuit of softening lines and adding volume means you’ve crossed the line: you’re no longer a “feminist”.
Oh no - so what does that make me?
Having worked in investment banking and trading for 13 years, I’ve dealt with many, many #metoo situations. I have had more than my fair share of first-hand experiences with harassment and sexism. While many men I worked with would never treat women in this manner, my chauvinist superior to which I directly reported was a contributing factor in my resignation. I truly consider myself part of the women’s empowerment movement.
But now I’m being told that I’m hurting the cause instead of helping it, because I encourage women to care about how they look (I think it impacts how you feel!). That it’s ok to not want to age and to want to look younger. To be honest, this movement is a bit confusing when it comes to beauty. All of a sudden I’ve been placed in the same category as a Kardashian. Or worse…a Melania.
Even the head of the pre-eminent feminist herself, Gloria Steinem, admitted to getting “a little fat removed from above my eyes.” After admitting this, she then back pedaled to say that I made it her look worse and she would never do it again. Gloria is against Botox and plastic surgery. She adds, “I realize that if I had plastic surgery, it would just distract people. It would be like having a bad toupee.” We don’t know when Gloria’s surgery took place, other than guesstimating somewhere between 10-15 years ago. But what if at the time, Gloria’s surgery came out more in line with her expectations? Would it have been ok? What if at that time she had access to all the advancements and progress that have been made? And in fact, one wouldn’t look like they were wearing a “bad toupee?”
The feminist movement tells me I’m supposed to embrace my wrinkles. I’m supposed to love aging and all that comes with it. But is it wrong if I don’t want to? Aging brings with it a whole range of emotional and physical changes. You look in the mirror and see yourself grow older, and it’s hard. And nobody tells you that after 35, aging seems to work in dog years. Your metabolism slows dramatically, the elasticity of your skin plummets…
Aging may be a natural process, but it’s not always an enjoyable one. To be honest, I really loved the days when I could eat anything I wanted and not gain a pound. I loved when the skin on my ass was tight and not saggy. And I could stay up all night drinking with friends without looking the least bit haggard or feeling low in energy the next morning.
Now, from a mental perspective, I prefer my 40-year-old mind WAY more than my 25-year-old mind. But anybody who's over 35 and tells you they don’t prefer their 25-year-old body or sunspot- and wrinkle-free skin is simply a liar. Feminist or not.
So why should we feel guilty for taking steps to slow down or reverse the signs of aging? Women can sometimes be our own worst enemies. We’re so quick to judge each other. For some reason admitting you got filler is shameful, but keeping it a secret and looking great is better? To me, this perpetuates the problem. In the same way that beauty magazines airbrush and photoshop models to create unrealistic standards of beauty, women who claim to maintain their youthful looks naturally are also perpetuating an unattainable standard.
The reason I started Charlotte’s Book was to create an honest and credible (isn’t there so much garbage on the internet?) online platform where we could discuss Botox, and breast implants, and organic food, and whether collagen supplements are bogus. And to do it all in an authentic way that isn’t shameful or judgmental.It’s okay to want to get rid of those lip lines! It’s okay to want to fix your breasts after you’ve had kids. Go for it. Do what makes you feel good!
Here we’ve built a space where you can access high- quality information, where you can find experts who are the best in their industries (we vet all their credentials before they are added to our directory), and do it all in a digital environment that makes you feel good. And aren’t empowerment and women’s right to choose what to do with their bodies part of the foundation of the feminist movement? Isn’t it time to stop shaming women for the procedures they have, and instead celebrate each other’s decisions to take control of their bodies and do what makes them feel good?