Congrats, 42-Year-Old Women: Esquire Now Deems You Attractive

Magazine discovers that women — gasp — improve with age.

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Sofia Vergara, who is now 42. Photo |

Did you see? Esquire magazine praised the 42-year-old woman, saying that the age is “not what it used to be.”

“Let’s face it: There used to be something tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two-year-old woman,” the opener reads. “With half her life still ahead of her, she was deemed to be at the end of something — namely, everything society valued in her, other than her success as a mother. If she remained sexual, she was either predatory or desperate; if she remained beautiful, what gave her beauty force was the fact of its fading. And if she remained alone … well, then God help her.”

The issue with 42, assuming there is or ever was one, is a culture that rewards youth and doesn’t have much purpose for a woman who is considered “past her prime” in less enlightened circles.

Surely 42 isn’t what it used to be for either gender, any more than 21 has remained a threshold for adulthood and the expectation that one would be settled down.

“In a society in which the median age keeps advancing, we have no choice but to keep redefining youth,” Esquire editor at large Tom Junod writes, and I agree. But even in his defense praise of women aged 42, even with his crediting of feminism as what “has made 42-year-old women so desirable,” Junod sings the same old song about women and worth: wow, they’re (still) hot.

Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood’s leading ladies — because that’s really who Junod focuses on, your Sofia Vergaras, Carla Guginos, and Jennifer Garners — look fantastic, and their immense talents and draw should insure that the industry’s ageism won’t put them out to pasture anytime soon. There could be entirely new copy written up in praise of 47 (Halle Berry and Salma Hayek), or 43 (Nia Long, Regina King). But that just doesn’t seem necessary since we don’t spend too much time assessing whether the likes of George Clooney, 53, Will Smith, 45, Matthew McConaughey, 44, and Jared Leto, 42, “have to work for their advantage.”

An Esquire story on the evolution of women (and men) — the kind who don’t have their own personal glam squad — would be a more interesting one to see.

Would 42 still look as good to the readers without the carefully chosen lighting of a portrait studio and the not-so-subtle retouches of Photoshop? It should. Anybody who’s really paying attention already knows that women have always gotten better with time. Ask the average woman and she’ll tell you that life is better after 30. Her insecurities begin to fall to the wayside. Her career picks up. Her sense of self blossoms and blooms. She gains strength in her character that comes from living with a sense of intention and purpose. Experience makes her smarter. Kinder. Tougher.

A confident woman? There are few things better. She has always been worthy of praise.

Follow Maya K. Francis on Twitter.