I am amused to hear that men are more distinguished and look better as they age (read some of the comments), whereas women do not. Hello, what about balding, middle-aged, pot-bellied, unattractive men? Well, there are some bald men that are sexy..
And there are distinguished looking older women that are elegant. Have we looked at some of the older actresses? Meryl Streep's character, Miranda Priestley, in The Devil Wears Prada, was one such. Absolute class, authority, confidence, style and elegance. Jamie Lee Curtis in the yogurt ad looks distinguished, too. So does Hillary Clinton.
I think we are confusing attractiveness with sexual desirability. A younger woman with flawless, supple skin, great curves, a firmer body and youthful hair attracts men because she is definitely more Mommy-material to pass on their genes. But, is grey hair by itself, leaving aside all considerations of youth, worse-looking than, say, brown hair? Is grey an unattractive color by itself? Heck, very few people prefer brown sedans to sleek grey ones! If, say, there were a race of people with naturally grey hair since birth, our whole perception of grey hair would change.
It's not that men age better, they are perceived as better-looking as they age. Women find the maturity and gravitas of older men more appealing and since, for centuries, women have traditionally been married to older men, who then in many instances, provided for them, older men are probably also seen as more protective figures. Sounds very gender-unequal but in many societies, women were married off for the security the institution provided, financially, socially, emotionally, physically, etc.
Men, on the other hand, picked younger women for both pleasure and to bear offspring. Nature must have had a reason for the preference for youth and beauty in the choice of sexual partners and that would have been procreation. But that does NOT mean that older women or men are unattractive.
The logic of preferring youth over age should apply to women as well.
Younger men are more virile (no need for Viagra), have a higher chance of fertilizing a woman and are very attractive. Also, since men have shorter life spans, what sense does it make to hook up with someone who will not be there for you much longer?
It's not age alone that is the problem, it is our perception of age that is a bigger one.
The trouble with women is, they fall into the trap of marketers and know-it-alls, think that a few fine lines around the eyes and the mouth are enough to make them look unattractive and totally undesirable. Women seem more desperate to snag a man and look lovely. Part of it could be that a woman's fertile years are limited as compared to a man's. Besides, pregnancy and childbirth, nursing and rearing take up a lot of her energy and time. As they have to do a lot of hard work to get a human into this world, women are also probably pickier when it comes to their choice of mates.
Unless women themselves look at themselves differently, celebrate the attractiveness of youth as well as the dignity and the different attractiveness of old age, we cannot expect any better from the rest of the world.
They will be caught up in the eternal cycle of byaah, bachcha, budhaapa (Hindi for marriage, children, old age).
P.S. This is one of the first posts in the list of probably more to come about byaah, bachcha, budhaapa...