Aging is tough. How does it affect us?

Here’s how aging is viewed negatively for women and what college students can do to reconsider the process.


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Society holds men and women to different beauty standards as they age.

Emily Coffey and Hannah Larson, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief

As women grow older, society’s conventional wisdom is for them to dye their hair, put on makeup and engage in a variety of activities to appear younger than they really are in a futile, misguided search for eternal youth. On the other hand, men attain a sense of mature glamor in the eyes of society as they age — the community dignifies rather than denigrates their salt-and-pepper hair.  

Aging is universal, but the American response to aging men and women differs dramatically. Society holds older men and women to different beauty standards due to close ties between ageism and sexism. Ultimately, neither men nor women should be shamed for aging — a good and natural process which is an inevitable part of life. 


A Washington Post article by Lydia DePillis quotes David Neumark and Ian Burn of the University of California at Irvine and Patrick Button of Tulane University, who coauthored a study about age discrimination in hiring. 

“ ‘Older women may in fact experience more discrimination than older men, because physical appearance matters more for women and because age detracts more from physical appearance for women than for men,’ [Neumark and Burn] write, citing sociology research from the past couple of decades that supports that hypothesis,” DePillis said. 

As Ashton Applewhite pointed out in the New York Times article “Working to Disarm Women’s Anti-Aging Demon,” women face two scourges — ageism and sexism — as they grow older. 

“Aging is harder for women,” Applewhite said. “We bear the brunt of the equation of beauty with youth and youth with power — the double-whammy of ageism and sexism. How do we cope? We splurge on anti-aging products. We fudge or lie about our age. We diet, we exercise, we get plumped and lifted and tucked.”


Women can choose to celebrate aging instead of conform to society’s age-shaming standards. For model, dietitian and 2017 Covergirl Maye Musk, aging sparked a newfound confidence when she chose to embrace her age rather than pretend she was decades younger. 

“I’m turning 70 in April of next year,” Musk said. “I think that women will be really inspired to see that even at 69 you can get a beauty campaign. Aging has been good for me. You develop confidence, you’re able to handle the knocks a little easier. I model for my age. I’m not trying to hide it and say I’m 50. I’m so proud that I’m going [to] be 70.”


Many students may not feel the effects of ageism, especially for those in undergrad programs. However, students should think through their beliefs on aging as a whole and address the process with their parents or older mentors. Some may also feel undervalued because of their youth, seen as inconsequential or unreliable while being fully capable of bearing the weight an older adult carries.  

For some alumni or college students, a quarter-life crisis may be at hand as many young adults enter a sort of “molting period,” where one re-evaluates their life choices. A perspective of growth may be helpful for twenty-somethings to view life as an opportunity for growth. According to Ran Zilka’s piece in the Harvard Business Review, the mid-twenties can be the worst part of someone’s life. But the pain associated with isolation and growth does not need to be fully negative.  

Psychological aging is a positive process in which older equals better,” Zilka said in the article. “That should reassure twentysomethings who are currently feeling stressed out or lost, and help their elders remember what it was like — really like — to be young.”

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