Culture,  Politics

It’s time to move past the Madonna cult

Denise McAllister has an excellent little piece at The Federalist about ageing women and the cult of youth. She argues that women generally miss out on the joys of different life-stages because they have been conditioned to pursue that which time will ultimately take away from everyone—youthful beauty. She writes:

“On and on it goes, as women move from motherhood to the crone years, desperately holding on to their maiden visage. But that identity is gone. Time has stolen it from them… Motherhood was either rushed through and not savored or it was rejected altogether, so there isn’t even that aspect of womanhood to carry with them into the twilight years. All they have is what they have always longed for—the mirage of perpetual youth and a sexualized image of themselves forever reflected in a magical mirror.”

There’s some real wisdom in McAllister’s article. It is not a Christian piece, but it does bring to mind the Apostle Peter’s words:

“And let not your adornment be merely external– braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” -1 Peter 3:3-4

Our lives are a vapor (James 4:14). And we don’t add to their substance by chasing vapors. We were made for more than that—not just women, but all of us.


  • buddyglass

    The argument from evolutionary biology, while not necessarily true, seems particularly compelling here. Men continue to be fertile late into life. Women do not. Each sex is attracted to the subset of the opposite sex with whom they’re able to procreate.

    This set of data from OkCupid highlights why women are under unique pressure to try to look young (relative to men):

    Basically, as a woman, the further past age 22 you look the less attractive you will be perceived to be. With men, you can remain attractive until about age 40, at which point you need to look like you’re no older than 40.

    • Barbara Jackson

      Well now, let’s be fair. OKCupid is hardly known for being a gathering place for insightful, intelligent, thoughtful adults. Those will generally collect elsewhere, for the most part. The 22 year cutoff may be true for the perpetual adolescents, but who over 22 would want *them*? It’s the women over 40 who get the short end of the stick, because the men their age want women of childbearing age (30s) and TV and advertising are full of images of the older, overweight balding man with the beautiful slender young woman on his arm, so they are fed that image and rarely look at anyone their own age. Me, I’m 46, anhard worker, and the the pickins’ are slim at this age anyway, especially when you want someone who is godly and committed to Christ and His Bride, is biblically eligible, and willing and able to lead; even that handful my age are seeking women of childbearing age. So, why even bother trying to look like something I’m not? I’ll be what I am, and if the Lord sends someone , wonderful! If not, I still belong to Him and He takes good care of me. I want to serve my Lord, not be some cougar with a boy toy. I have a unique opportunity to serve within my church, and I really enjoyed the article that Denny Burk shared with her emphasis on the fact that so much of life is missed out on when you spend your time cultivating self and an image instead of giving it away in service. Darned good article and refreshing to see a secular writer make that point.

      • buddyglass

        I wager it’s biological; not a matter of whether or not a man loves the Lord. A man will tend to find 18-24 women the most physically attractive regardless of his age. Women tend to be less laser-focused on a particular age range. A man who loves the Lord won’t limit himself only to 18-24 year olds because he realizes the marriage relationship is built on more than just physical attractiveness, but that doesn’t change the fact that he still likely finds women aged 18-24 more physically attractive.

        The article seems to “call out” women for being especially wrapped up in the effort to appear younger. That’s probably true. But, if they are, it’s because they’re working under a different set of “rules”, so to speak.

  • Dal Bailey

    Makes me laugh. I knew a female who I was “Interested” in. But when I broached the subject about teeth (Mine being false) she said “Oh no, have to have your own teeth, no hair fakes and no flakes” I then responded “Yeah, I’d prefer a virgin anyway” man she let loose with a stream of vulgar words that had everyone (On the group) laughing at her for being so shallow…

    It does go both ways….

  • Lou Greer

    I don’t know, I’m pretty sure if women just let themselves go, even Christian men would be pretty unhappy about it. My wife is 51 and she has been going to greater lengths to care for her skin and hair, as well as doing workouts to keep from gaining weight. Of course, her motivation is stewardship of God’s gift, but I gotta tell you — I don’t want her to give it up either. 🙂

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