Entertainment And News

Am I The Only One Who Doesn’t Want To Insult Madonna’s Face?

Photo: Nuamfolio / Shutterstock
Madonna

Let me tell you something utterly terrifying.

It’s bad.

Really, really bad.

Ready?

Are you sure?

OK, here it goes:

Women age.

Take a moment to let that sink in. No need to rush yourself.

RELATED: Why Can’t An Iconic Rebel Like Madonna Embrace Aging?

I know there’s possibly nothing more shocking on this entire planet than the idea of women growing old. But the thing is, we don’t just disappear into oblivion once we hit the old age of 30. That’s not how things work, I’m afraid.

I hope you’re still here with me, although I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t.

Because this isn’t exactly a ‘sexy’ topic.

Not many people seem to enjoy it unless we’re talking about the good, old witch-burning or mocking women who didn’t ‘age gracefully’ as they were supposed to.

Just like Madonna. And lately, everyone seems to have an opinion of her. Or rather, her face.

I’ll be honest with you — I don’t.

But I do have an opinion on those that do.

‘She should’ve just aged gracefully’

After Madonna posted a Tik Tok a few days ago, the Internet was flooded with all sorts of nasty comments about her social media accounts, online behavior, clothing choices, but mostly — her face.

These are some of the comments posted on Twitter:

Madonna looks good for her age… if her age is 2700 years old vampire who eats babies and small animals alive.

She has had a face of a dead person transplanted as her own face.

Madonna has turned into Jocelyn Wildenstein.

Why didn’t she just age gracefully?

Why doesn’t she act her age?

Well, we’ve all heard the two last sentences many times before.

And so did Madonna.

But practically since she turned 40 years old, through the clothes she wore, the surgeries she had and the men she dated, she brazenly rejected the looks and behavior deemed appropriate for a ‘woman of a certain age.’

And she’s still doing that.

Which seems to incite a lot of anger. And even repulsion.

Piers Morgan literally pretended to vomit into a bucket following the singer’s 2016 appearance on Carpool Karaoke.

And that’s just because Madonna has committed the cardinal sin of aging in the public eye and tried to conceal it for as long as she could. To stay relevant. To not be tossed aside like so many other female artists who ‘dared’ to age.

So, no — I couldn’t care less about how she looks like today.

Madonna’s face is no one else’s business than Madonna’s.

But the way so many people — including young women — talk about her appearance is far more disturbing to me than any face she might premiere on her Tik Tok or Instagram.

RELATED: Fans Concerned By Madonna's 'Scary' Social Media Posts About Drugs And Alcohol

And it clearly shows what happens when misogyny and ageism intersect.

The double bind all aging women must confront

Women who age under the scrutiny of the public eye — and not only them, to be fair — are faced with two options: grow old ‘gracefully.’ And by that, I mean age like Cindy Crawford or Jennifer Lopez and don’t age at all. Or shuffle into obscurity.

There’s no in-between, really.

And if you deviate from this playbook, you will be tried in the court of public opinion.

So unless you’re blessed with J.Lo genes, you can either embrace the inevitable grey hair and wrinkles that come with growing older or attempt to hold back the hand of time through cosmetic surgery and be ridiculed for it.

And oh boy, there’s nothing we love more than doing the latter.

The day after a mass shooting in Orlando in 2016 — one of the deadliest mass shootings in history — it was actually Meg Ryan’s face that was the highest trending topic on social media. Yup, not the shooting — a female celebrity’s face.

And why is that?

Well, she also didn’t age ‘gracefully’ similarly to many women in the spotlight before and after her. Renee Zellweger. Nicole Kidman. Goldie Hawn. And Madonna.

But the thing is, although we keep repeating that we want women to age ‘naturally’ and avoid cosmetic work when they do that, we mock them instead for ‘letting themselves go.’

Just look at what happened with the cast of the ‘Sex and the City reboot — ‘And Just Like That….’

Ever since the show came out at the end of last year, there’s been an ongoing conversation about how the female members of the show have aged. Some of them — like Sarah Jessica Parker — apparently have too many wrinkles. And have the ‘audacity’ not to dye their grey hair. But some, like Kristin Davis, have too few wrinkles.

So let me get this straight.

We get penalized for aging — unless, of course, we age without actually aging. And we then get penalized for doing something about it if we didn’t win the genetic lottery.

How lovely.

Living in a culture obsessed with youth is exhausting for everyone

Let’s face it. None of us will ever truly understand how much pressure Madonna — and other female celebrities — go through when it comes to their appearance.

How hurtful and tiring it must be to have millions of people examine every single detail of your face and body whenever you leave your house. And how terrified they probably are of essentially losing their jobs after a certain age, while their male counterparts don’t have to worry about any of that.

Because men are allowed to age. Their lives are not subject to the same schedule and cut-off point — no one expects a man over forty to disappear into oblivion. He still has something to offer. But as women get old, their age and fading look cast a shadow over every contribution they make and belief they hold.

RELATED: Trolls Mocking Madonna’s ‘Unfiltered’ Photos Reveal The Ugly Truth About How We View Women In Their 60s

Ordinary women, like myself, go through all of this, too.

As soon as we hit puberty, we are told that the biological clock has started ticking. We’re given a sell-by date based on when menopause is assumed to begin. And it’s not that we then stop being useful; it’s that our usefulness becomes taboo.

It’s almost like a woman ought not to outlive her reproductive usefulness.

Yet more often than not, we do.

So it’s about time everyone recognized that women don’t exist solely to be objectified or impregnated by the other half of the human race. We remain important to society even after our ‘expiration date.’

But we also need to acknowledge that living in a culture obsessed with youth isn’t doing anyone any favors. It’s exhausting for everyone, and paradoxically, even very young girls.

Who, by the way, are now so terrified of aging that they start doing ‘preventative’ botox even when they’re still teenagers?

Yup, that’s happening.

Look, I’m not even a big fan of cosmetic surgery.

And I do believe we need to keep having honest conversations about it and beauty standards in general. But we can do that without bashing individual female celebrities in the process. Without shifting the blame entirely on them for what society has conditioned us to believe in.

We really won’t achieve much by doing any of this.

It just shows we’re more than happy to join the misogynist and ageist witch-hunts until we become the witches ourselves and discover that there is no way of rewinding the biological clock.

But by then, it will already be too late. We’ve already made it worse — for ourselves and the women who will come after us.

Because we’ve assumed that we will be the ‘better’ old women, earning a place at the table, unlike those desperate old hags who deserve everything they get.

No, they don’t.

RELATED: What Madonna Has Said About Her Sexuality As Fans Debate Whether She Just Came Out On TikTok

Katie Jgln is a writer, satirist, social scientist, and activist whose work covers gender equality issues, pop culture, and trending news. She has bylines in Scary Mommy, Daily Mail, and others.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.