When Madonna stepped onto the stage at the 2023 Grammy Awards, her clearly remodeled face led the way. As the ultimate provocateur, she pushed the hot-spot button called, Women are not allowed to flaunt a face lift. Many reacted with disgust at the obvious refurbishment of a famous older woman’s look including a face lift, injectables, and God knows what else, (but I imagine it didn’t stop there). Some observers voiced that she is insecure, that she should gracefully fade into oblivion, or that her career of over sexualized provocations and addiction to youth are shameful. I beg to differ.
Madonna can be counted on to consistently push buttons and get negative attention. She is genius at it. In fact, she announced her upcoming world tour at the same time as her appearance on the Grammy’s and, make no mistake, the face lift, television appearance, and world tour announcement are purposefully planned to get attention. As a committed introvert, such postulations seem both ghastly and awe-inspiring, which leads me to the provocation of using a facial reconstruction as the whopper to whack everyone. It worked. But WHY did it work; why are we talking about this? Why would one of the worlds most brilliant attention-getters use female aging in order to get attention?
Women, Aging, and the Bi-Polar Western World
You are not allowed to age, and when you do, you must use every means at your disposal to prevent, alter, and/or minimize this terrible embarrassment. Women are praised if they don’t look their age, if it looks effortless, if they maintain their place in the tribe of youth, and (the most important bit) YOU CAN’T TELL THEY’VE HAD ANYTHING DONE. Therefore, you can be, like, 80 years old but if you look 35 and no one can tell you’ve spent your entire life savings to maintain this, then you are gold. If you look at all different, weird, duck faced, or anything not completely normal, you are (heavily) criticized. I get whiplash just writing that sentence.
I spent my youth as a skinny, too tall, odd-looking, stringy haired girl, working as a professional model with Elite Modeling Agency in New York City, Milan, Paris, and London. At age 16, I signed a two-year contract with Revlon as the Charlie Girl fragrance representative across international media advertising. When the contract ended, I escaped. No longer could I starve myself into a size unfit for a human, or maintain my sense of self while being criticized for having hips, no boobs, or huge feet. With my self-esteem in the toilet, I ran to London and went to college to study literature and creative writing, and began to rethink the whole bi-polar world of modeling, youth, beauty, and power. In time, I moved to Washington D.C., studied television makeup, and worked in live television including FOX, CNN, MSNBC, and more. Being behind the camera was much easier than being in front of it, but it also gave me a fly-on-the-wall view of how deep the female aging paradigm ran. It is epic, painful, and comes mainly from the (mostly male) people at the top of the power pyramid.
Madonna challenged the deeply held belief that older women shouldn’t do exactly what she did. She stuffed it in the face of all of us, and laughed that it bothered us so much.
Please understand, as an advocate for connecting the polarized viewpoints of spirituality and beauty, I refuse to have any plastic surgery, injectables, or anything toxic or knife-like done to my face. It is a personal choice and I do not project my choice onto you or anyone else. I think it’s my way to rebel against all the people I worked with over the years who criticized female on-camera talents inability to still look 12 as they age.
The men could have pot bellies and double chins and be considered brilliant, but that’s for another article. I do find a movement toward acceptance as women age, and more and more women are being seen as talented, successful, and powerful even if they don’t cave to the knife or injectables. Whew. Yet I do not judge you if you do, in fact, I completely get it and support you.
The Power of Media
But back to Madonna. Love her or not, her statement is clear. Is she not one of the greatest artists of our generation, face lift or not? Challenging stereotypes has made her a household name, and given permission to many of us to embrace our gifts, face lift or not. Older women are needed to speak out, stand up (on a stage if necessary) and challenge society, not fade into the background in embarrassment as the establishment wants. Isn’t it odd that the shame of aging is used to silence half the world’s population when that population is the voice of compassion, intuition, and love? Is love not the most powerful vibration in the universe and are we not the primary purveyors of it? It is no coincidence that we are considered scary as we age: we are no longer easily manipulated, but we are silenced. Let this no longer be true for you.
“Power is being told you’re not loved and not being destroyed by it.”
What do you think of Madonna and aging? It’s okay if you don’t care, but what do you care about enough to speak out and make waves? I’d love to know!