What Happened to Madonna Reveals Aging Debate for Women

Feb 9, 2023, 1:02 PM | Updated: 1:07 pm

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: Madonna speaks onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Cryp...

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: Madonna speaks onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy )

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy )

The aging process feels like Pandora’s box for women these days. Embrace your gray hair? Good for you! Keep coloring your hair – great! Botox? Why not! Filler- it’s your body. Then we see a picture of Madonna at the Grammys and we collectively gasp. Is that our Material Girl? What happened to her face?

I admit to gasping at Madonna when I saw her on the Grammys. Actually, I confess to not being sure if it was really her. Pictures of her younger self were behind her on the screen, but the woman standing center stage did not look like my Madonna. To put it mildly, I was shocked at her appearance and it had nothing to do with simply aging.

I am all about the mindset of ‘you do you’ when it comes to aging. I choose to color my hair and get Botox to fix my angry ‘11s’ (lines between eyebrows). I also say no to Botox around my eyes, and will never try filler again. Quick filler story- tried it in my lips a couple of years ago. Had an allergic reaction and had all over itching for 6 solid weeks. Oh and my lips NEVER plumped up!

As women, we have earned the right to age exactly how we want to age. What I question though is how much is programmed into us from media and their definitions of beauty. How much do we want to do for us, and how much do we feel like we have to do to chase youth. Why is a female movie star who chooses to age with visible gray hair and a thicker mid-section so shocking? Why are 11’s on women seen as bad, but on men it’s just part of the aging process? I guarantee you that my fiancé has never thought, hmm I should get these 11’s shot up with Botox!

Supermodel Paulina Porizcova has been a leader for conversations about women’s aging and acceptance. If you don’t follow her on Instagram- you should! Being one of the earliest Supermodels – she has such a unique perspective on women and aging in our culture today. At 57, she is stunningly beautiful, accepts that she is aging and shows the perspective of aging under the scrutiny of being in the public eye.

For me, I’ve accepted that I’m aging and am reluctantly embracing the increasing truth of more aches, pains and wrinkles. I take Advil when my foot is hurting and get my 11’s shot up with Botox when I feel like an Angry Birds character. Currently, I happily color my hair, but recently said no thanks to any more extensions. This is what I want and what works for me… today.

As far as Madonna, maybe she did exactly what worked for her. Sadly, maybe someone told her she needed some face ‘work’ and something inside of her wanted to try it. Maybe…just maybe she is the face of what women feel like they have to do in order to stay looking young and viable.  And finally, maybe she is completely happy with how she looks.  I will also note that Madonna is upset about all the comments about her face and feels like it is ageism (prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age).

Aging isn’t for sissies. In a culture that celebrates youth and thinness, the aging process can feel brutal. Then you add in the comparison joy stealer, known as social media, and it is a rabbit hole of mixed emotions. Darned if you do and darned if you don’t.

Recently I watched Pat Benator, who at the age of 70 slayed it at last year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Amazing. Black leather, same incredible voice and her presence took my breath away. When she was done tearing it up on stage, she gave a short speech mentioning her husband, kids and grandkids. What I saw was a strong woman comfortably standing in her own power and authenticity. She didn’t fit into any box of labels and I loved every second of it. That to me is what I hope to master in my own life as I age. Embracing my truth, standing in my power and feeling free to rock black leather for as long possible.



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