Those lines around women’s eyes? The men August McLaughlin interviewed said, ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.’
Editor’s Note: August McLaughlin is our weekly relationships advice columnist. She’s here to answer questions and offer guidance on the tough challenges we face in our intimate relationships. Readers can submit questions to email@example.com. Not all questions will be published. The opinions expressed in this column do not constitute professional advice. The Good Men Project assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any actions taken by, or reactions that ensue from, anyone following the recommendations in the answers.
I’m a forty-something woman in LA and feeling ready to date for the first time after a decade-long relationship ended last year. I have to say, I’m intimidated.
I live in an area full of actresses and models, and it seems that every woman over thirty has had some kind of work done—injections, fillers, etcetera … My face has changed in recent years, particularly by way of wrinkles. I’m curious, do men care about them? Are they so bombarded with Hollywood-perfect faces that I seem archaic and undesirable?
I’ve considered hitting the med-spa but I’d rather save the funds and not worry about it (which lately is easier said than done). I feel rather vain just writing this, but it’s been weighing heavily on my mind.
Thank you for any advice,
I feel you. Not long ago, I found myself criticizing the lines around my eyes. Frankly, that pissed me off. After years of hard work overcoming body dysmorphia and a serious eating disorder, I was fixating on skin crinkles? Seriously? My frustration quickly shifted to the cause. Women are upheld to impossible, unrealistic beauty standards in our culture—which isn’t only unfair, but deeply damaging.
So I snapped an unflattering closeup selfie and stared at it until my thoughts turned from dislike to tolerance to compassion to embracement. Then I posted it online with this caption:
They aren’t ‘crow’s feet.’ They’re rights of passage and signs of all we’ve endured and cherished. Embracing aging brightens the world for everyone, so let’s do that.
The self-coaching and standing strong in my authenticity strengthened me, as did people’s encouraging comments. Folks I most respect and care about don’t judge people by appearance; most see beauty in time’s passage. To me, each year is a gift we earn. If lines and wrinkles are part of that, so be it. In fact, bring them on.
I’m not suggesting you dodge the med-spa if that ends up seeming ideal for you. I hope you’ll begin to see the power that lies in changing negative attitudes about physical appearance, however—not just for you, but for others.
Since I posted that photo, I’ve grown smitten by women’s faces that move naturally and expressively, untouched by injections or knives. Altered physically or not, I delight in women’s effervescence, the soul-light that shines in their eyes. Where we choose to see beauty we find it, often in infinite amounts. All of that brings more beauty to our lives. And trust me, guys are more attracted to a woman who prizes bliss and confidence over wrinkle cream.
Take it from some of my awesome guy friends. To better answer your question, I asked them to share honest thoughts on women’s wrinkles:
“Of course I think my wife is beautiful and I’m immensely attracted to her, but it’s her personality that I love the most. Beauty might fade so you better be able to talk to your partner. My wife and I plan on spending the rest of our lives enjoying each other’s company, wrinkles and all.” —Steve, 42.
“I never even notice my girlfriend’s smile lines or what-have-you, but she does, and that bothers me. She’s gorgeous to me, especially when she’s happy. Now a woman without any lines? That could mean she seldom smiles or she’s lived very little. I’ll take wrinkles, smiles and peppiness for life over unhappy and flawless any day.” —Sydney, age 44
“My wife had Botox for her wrinkles. Honestly, I thought she was prettier before. But if it makes her happy, that’s all that matters. She is sexier to me now than ever, regardless of how her skin looks, and I’m not just saying that. We’ve worked hard on our relationship. The result is a bond that goes far beyond outer packaging.” —Jay, 48
“I love to see wrinkles on women. They are more attractive to me than smooth ‘new’ skin. Yesterday, I met a woman in the gas station. As I looked at her wrinkled face (she had wrinkles all over) I was delighted with her energy, her sheer life-force, and left grateful for our chance meeting. She was absolutely stunning. Her smile shined brightly, almost highlighting her wrinkles. This contrast gave her beauty. I look forward to a world that sees more wrinkles as more attractive. It’s coming.” —Rick, 53
“To watch a woman go from youthful thirties into the more settled [or] midlife crisis of the forties and then into their fifties is to notice changes—but I don’t see how their beauty is changed at all. I still see that beautiful face and body that was always there. Some hate being told they look great for their age, but that is not making allowances for age. It is only recognizing they have made it this long and still look great. I wish they would understand that.”—Scott, age 61
So you see? Plenty of men see beyond wrinkles or, better yet, embrace them. Women and men are hurt by society’s messages that suggest we shouldn’t. Changing these notions starts within ourselves, in our own homes, lives and mirrors. Freeing ourselves up from fixating on our “flaws” makes us better able to live and love fully. There is nothing more attractive than that.
Love your skin, whether you opt to change it or not. Far more importantly, commit to loving yourself.
Cheering for you,
Photo—Look Into My Eyes/Flickr