Sunday, February 23, 2014

Beauty: The face you earn

I love the way faces age.

When looking at magazines and online lists about women celebrities who are "aging beautifully," I find myself wishing those selected would opt out of plastic surgery and let their real faces speak of the lives they've led.

Moments ago, I closed the window on another of those "beautiful after 50" posts — one that focused on Latinas, and included Charo, looking stretched, wrinkle-free and plumped by collagen, as if she'd submitted to this treatment from the movie Brazil:

I know Charo is a skilled guitarist and much smarter than her "Cuchi, Cuchi" image (imagine a Vegas-style entertainer version of SofĂ­a Vergara) was made out to be during the height of her popularity in the 1970s but the truth is ... I don't want to look like she does when I turn her age (a mere decade away).

I know, Hollywood is tough on its celebrities and I can't begin to understand the pressure that must be exerted on beauties who age under its cruel gaze. But some of my favorite faces hold a roadmap of life in their folds and contours, and I can't imagine they'd be improved by having the markers of age ironed out.

Coco Chanel was right — you're given the face you have at 20, but you earn the face you have at 50 ... and beyond.

So here photos of some of my favorite activists and writers (most living, but a few who died as elders). They were beautiful when they were young, and even more beautiful in their age.

Dolores Huerta

(Labor leader and civil rights activist; b. April 10, 1930)


Yuri Kochiyama

(Human rights activist; b. May 19, 1921)


Dorothy Day

(Journalist, activist and Catholic Worker; Nov. 8, 1897 - Nov. 29, 1980)

Maya Angelou

(Poet and activist; b. April 4, 1928)


Paula Gunn Allen

(Poet, novelist and lesbian activist; Oct. 24, 1939 - May 29, 2008)

Now it's your turn. Fill my comments with the photos and names of women who wore, or wear, their beauty clear on their faces. 


  1. I met Paula Gunn Allen back in 1994. Wow, was she a pistol. Her beauty started in her heart and grew outward. One cannot hide that, and age only enhanced it in every line and wrinkle and sag. She's missed.

  2. Helen Mirren, actress; Vanessa Redgrave, actress; Maggie Smith, actress


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