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Can Beauty and aging co-exist side by side?

Updated on July 16, 2011

Aging and Beauty

This hub represents a different angle on discussing the relation between aging and beauty. I start with the important question of whether women over the age of 60 can be attractive and sexy, even in today's day and age! I think that the answer is yes. Here is why...

What is Beauty?

Socrates would often question his interlocutor over what beauty is. He would receive different answers to this question, none of which (to his mind at least) were satisfactory. One might cite some beautiful things (perhaps a beautiful young Greek athlete), but it turned out that these things were only examples of beautiful things. So one is no closer to a definition of what beauty actually is. Besides, it might be the case that some Greek athlete is beautiful in virtue of his good looks, but is known as a cheat, does not have good relations, and so on. So in respect to these other aspects he is not beautiful. So this cannot be an example of beauty. There are other problems, too. We might say that the Greek athlete is beautiful, the old tea-set is beautiful, the sunset is beautiful, the dog is beautiful, the old lady is beautiful, and so on. But these things are worlds apart and do not seem to have anything in common. Except, that is, for being beautiful.

Socrates was known for his persistent questioning, but he got no closer to a definition of what beauty is. The beautiful, he thought after careful consideration, was some kind of abstract existence that material things could partake in. So if the Greek athlete was beautiful in respect to his looks then he partook in the beautiful in respect to this aspect. The tea-set you have been given by your Great Grandma is beautiful in virtue of it partaking in the beautiful, and so on for sunsets, dogs, old ladies etc. In this way, we can make sense of calling different things beautiful, even though they seem to be worlds apart. The upshot of this is that everything that is beautiful is beautiful in virtue of partaking in the beautiful.


What is Beauty today?

But what do we think of as beautiful? Look at the video clips of young girls and boys dancing around. Are they beautiful? Or do you think that young children, playing together in, e.g. kindergartens, childcare centres, are beautiful. Or perhaps the young toddler following his/her mummy in the supermarket is beautiful. Most of us now do not think that Greek athletes (even those around in BC) are the epitome of beauty. So what, in today’s age, is it that we call beautiful? Or has what is beautiful never really changed?

Beauty in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Thinking about beauty and aging reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s book, A Picture of Dorian Gray. This book has as its protagonist the young Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is very concerned with his looks and is quite the dandy (being around in 19th century England). He is sort after by men and women alike, such is his beauty. But, as everyone knows, youth (and in this case, beauty) cannot last forever. This was particularly known by Dorian Gray himself. He perhaps even feared his old age, such was his obsession for beauty.

The story has it that there was a portrait of Dorian Gray that was truly beautiful: it was a magnificent representation of him. What happened, then, was something rather odd. Dorian Gray did not age; the picture aged in his place. But it was not just age that was represented in the picture…

Every sin that Dorian Gray committed was represented, not in him, but in the picture. Dorian Gray’s outward beauty could not be tarnished. He was immaculate, but his soul was not. This was represented in the picture. The picture grew hideous, whereas Dorian Gray’s outward appearance changed not at all. So while Dorian Gray partook in the beautiful, his picture did not. That is to say, while Dorian Gray looked beautiful, he was not. His soul was ugly, as was represented by his picture.

What have we learned from Dorian Gray?

The case of Dorian Gray is instructive. Dorian Gray, the person, was beautiful, whereas his picture was not. But the reason for this was not because the picture grew old while Dorian Gray did not, but because the picture bore the burden of his sin, whereas Dorian Gray did not. It could have been that while Dorian Gray did not age, the picture, which did age, grew more and more beautiful in virtue of its age. In this scenario, the person Dorian Gray retained his boyish good looks, but the picture represented the experience, the love, the care, the charisma, that comes along with aging. Dorian Gray may have been picturesque, but it is the picture that is truly beautiful.

So have we got an answer to Socrates: what is the beautiful? Well, we can say at least this much: beauty is not only skin deep. There is something much more to beauty than surface appearances. Beauty is something that comes from within, but it is not invisible thereby. We can certainly imagine the alternative story of Dorian Gray where his picture grew old, while the boy did not, yet the picture was more beautiful through its representation of experience, love, care, charisma, and the whole host of other characteristics that come with age. This is reflected in the twinkling in their eyes, their mannerisms, their character as a whole. This sort of beauty can only be attained through age.

In Conclusion

So, do you think that women over the age of 60 can be attractive and sexy? Yes they can, and this is an achievement , rather than a God-given gift!


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    • Davids writing profile image

      Davids writing 6 years ago from Australia

      Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. You flatter me.

    • KarenBorn2Write profile image

      KarenBorn2Write 6 years ago from Lincoln, CA

      I'll hit that 60 in nine months. As much as possible, I try to avoid the Dorian Gray syndrome by being true to my faith, asking for forgiveness when needed, extending forgiveness and grace toward others, and trying my best to love the life I'm in and live this life I love (ok, the songwriter in me is emerging!!!!) Thanks for the post, David. It's beautiful and so are you.

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      PWalker281 6 years ago

      Very thought-provoking hub, David. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder; therefore, 60+ women like me ARE definitely beautiful and sexy :-). I remember seeing a version of the Dorian Gray movie and enjoyed it. I may very well take the time to read it. Welcome to HubPages and congrats on your Hubnugget nomination!

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      mib56789 6 years ago

      Can Beauty and aging co-exist side by side? Michael Jackson's mother sure figured out a way to do it. That woman is gorgeous! Every time I see her on TV, I go: "Dang! How come she look so good?!" I say this HUB is interesting and awesome.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 6 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Great job. I love the way you write - carefree and so easy to read. You are truly amazing. I will read more about Dorian Gray. I am also over 60, and people tell me I have beautiful skin. I take care of my skin, my body, and my soul. You are so right. Thanks for sharing.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      My compliments to you from a 60+ lady. Each time I look in the mirror I see my young self.:) Your hub needs to be viewed by people of all ages, as it reveals true beauty. Count me in David, for you have my vote. Such wisdom and truth! Wonderful writer and I give thanks to you. UP and all buttons pushed. :)vocalcoach

    • Davids writing profile image

      Davids writing 6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Deborah, I am sure you have nothing to worry about!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. As a 40 something, I often struggle with the though of losing beauty. I am learning, however, that it is an internal thing.

      Great hub.


    • profile image

      lindyloo123 6 years ago

      I read that book a thousand years ago! I'm sure I read it with little understanding about what it really meant. I'll go and revisit! A great article and comforting for an 'ageing female'!!

    • Davids writing profile image

      Davids writing 6 years ago from Australia

      I don't even know what that means! But thank you :)

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. Dorian Gray made it all happen for you.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

      You nailed some great points in a short, direct way, and older women have much to be proud of, 50

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, Davids writing. This is such an excellent discussion on the true meaning of beauty. Short, to the point, but with excellent examples!

      I've GOT to read The Picture of Dorian Gray. I've just added the first couple of chapters to my phone. Yay! Thanks for the reminder to read a classic, and for making me stop and think about something for once.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Ah, yes The Picture of Dorian Gray. I love the film with Hurd Hatfield, George Sanders and Angela Lansbury. I have to reread that book again soon.