Everyone has their own experience with societal pressures, expectations, biases, discriminations, and those can be amplified when you are in the public eye.
We asked Nikki Glaser what has been the hardest thing to deal with as a comedian, and she shared her experience.
To paraphrase...Glaser said the hardest thing about being a woman in the industry is "aging and staying f*ckable".
By now everyone understands the pressure that society has on women and how that infiltrates their perception of the way they look, but in some industries women feel pressure based on very real expectations to stay commercially attractive, in order to continue working. What is commercially attractive? A certain body type, a certain hair length, the right amount of make-up, and.....young.
If femininity is assumed to exist for male consumption by society (a falsehood, by the way, that requires us to change our behaviors and judgements to overcome) and men want young women, it would seem then that femininity decreases with age.
But the reality is that age does not decrease how feminine someone is. What age can change is how confident someone is, how much less manipulatable they are, the more life experiences they have, the more knowledge they have, and consciously or not, these are wrongfully deemed to be more masculine traits. Don't believe it? Check out our blog post on how wearing a suit (dressing masculine) can make a women appear "stronger"and "powerful".
On top of a more developed brain, bodies age as well. Wrinkles pop up, metabolism drops, and so women are expected to treat these changes like a disease. So much so that advertisements for anti-aging products are massively geared towards women. Perhaps because society finds it harder to sexualize an older age. Is that why women are pressured to stay young by society...so they can be ornaments of fantasy?
"Stay f*ckable". And so even the hilarious, multitalented, gorgeous, and successful Nikki Glaser feels the pressure and the worry that her professional value could be hindered by how attractive she appears to an audience.
Lainey Molnar, an artist who shares her work and wisdom on Instagram @lainey.molnar, recently shared a post discussing aging in women. In the post, she points out how women have 2 options in their thirties: "be 'beautiful for our age'...or become invisible".
Lainey goes on to say "somehow they make us think that our value lies in being beautiful and young, so we become competitive with ourselves and the world" and explains how women spend all this time, money, and energy attempting to defy age when we could be using towards our "power" instead, which Lainey describes as "resilience, world healing capability, creativity, kindness, talent, and uniqueness."
Another recent discussion around age from a celebrity is the recent quote from Kim Kardashian in an interview with the New York Times admitting she'd probably eat poop everyday if it made her younger. This was brought up during a discussion of her new skin care line, promised to keep that skin young.
The answer is not to start or continue to shame people who address aging. The issue is the "why" not the "what". When society presents a beauty standard, telling people to ignore it isn't helpful. It's a process that needs consistency.
So what can we do as a society? Visibility and representation. "Older" women are gorgeous and sexy, and are allowed to dress and feel that way. Let's see this in movies, in books, on the street. Let's start highlighting and lifting up women in all their beauty, beyond aesthetic. Beautiful experiences, beautiful minds, amazing accomplishments, genuine souls. Those things only get more beautiful with time.