Monday, December 12, 2005

Old Age: Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Employer

I saw Dr. Andrew Weil talking about his book and discussing aging on ABC This Week yesterday.

Here's a quote from his writing:
“What is an appropriate lifestyle when you are in your twenties is likely not to be appropriate when you are in your fifties. Wherever you are on the continuum of aging, it is important to learn about how to live in appropriate ways in order to maximize health and happiness. That should be an essential goal for all of us.”

He has a point that we should embrace aging, that plastic surgery and other medical intervention (botox for instance) to keep you looking younger are probably not healthy.

On the program, they showed a number of VERY OLD ASIAN people he had met in his travels and he was talking about how wonderful they were and how healthy they looked ... I don't think they looked so wonderful, I thought they looked like old wrinkled potatoes.

I hear what you're saying, Doctor, but believe me, this is not a culture which prizes the aged and the wisdom they may have gained. Watch TV for a little while and notice we mock old people and think of them as more STUPID, not more WISE. Should we try to change this? Yes ... I wish we could ... but ... as they say, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

And I have to say, I resent you talking about those who choose plastic surgery as somehow morally weak. It's not about vanity necessarily. It can be about earning your daily bread.

Ask actresses in Hollywood, but also ask all the rest of us girls next door. I really do believe there is a great deal of ageism around, perhaps even more than sexism, but when you put the two together in the workplace, believe me, you've got two strikes against you. Being old and being a woman is rather like being invisible. You don't count.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder after a certain age, but rather in the eye of the employer -- any woman over 35 has seen it. To tell people they shouldn't get plastic surgery to look younger is as good as telling them they shouldn't bother trying to keep a job, or (consulting) jobs. How you look matters very much and it is a make-it-or-break-it proposition in the world of work.

All well and good for you, Doctor, to parade around with white hair and a white beard, but the majority of us don't have a medical degree, book royalties and public speaking engagements to pay the rent. If you weren't selling books on Aging, believe me, I think your employment options would be limited. Of course, you would find ample work in this season as a kindly Santa, but you might feel a little underemployed round about January.

I like a lot of what you say. I like your writing. But welcome to the real world. I don't think any woman lets someone slice up her face and sew it back together without a great deal of consideration. I'd be careful to condemn those mere mortals who might consider buying your book.