Jennifer Aniston & Sandra Bullock Start A Noteworthy Trend For 'People's Most Beautiful Woman Contest
With ads flaunting "age-defying" makeup or magazine taglines promising hairstyles to make women look younger, our culture undeniably emphasizes and idealizes youth. Yet when Jennifer Aniston won People 's World's Most Beautiful Woman honor for 2016, she became part of an important trend. For the second year in a row, a woman 45+ years old took home the coveted title. In 2015, Sandra Bullock became the oldest winner at age 50. Now at 47, Aniston continues conveying a valuable lesson: There isn't an age (or age limit) associated with beauty.
Age is such a catch-22 in Hollywood. There are the Kylie Jenners of the world, who get critiqued for trying to look "older than they are." Meanwhile, there's Renée Zellweger, who got torn apart for trying something different with her face. When you try to look older, you're mocked. But it you try to look younger, the same thing happens. That's why I think there's power in the fact that both Aniston and Bullock have been deemed People 's Most Beautiful, because it shows that age limits related to beauty are not only unnecessary, but untrue. While they're back-to-back winners in that age range, this isn't an entirely new trend; in 2013, Gwyneth Paltrow won at age 40 and Jennifer Lopez received the award in 2011 at 41. I think this is awesome and it's so important that the winners include women at all ages. Four-time winner, Julia Roberts, became the youngest recipient, when she first won at age 23 in 1991.
This whole conversation reminds me of Amy Schumer's hilarious "Last F*ckable Day" sketch from Inside Amy Schumer. Schumer is joined by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, and Patricia Arquette, as they joke about their impending expiration dates of being considered attractive. As Louis-Dreyfus explains, "In every actress' life, the media decides when you finally reach the point when you're not believably f*ckable anymore." The satiric clip really proves how ludicrous a concept this is — that women reach some age limit and are no longer desirable, all while pointing out how men don't face the same scrutiny. You can check out the LOL-worthy video below:
Age-related panic isn't only prevalent in Hollywood, but I've even noticed it among my friends — and it's starting earlier and earlier. I can say firsthand, as someone who recently turned 25, that I had a mini moment where I thought, "Oh my gosh, I'm so old!" Thanks to all the talk about quarter-life crises, I mistakenly believed I had aged drastically. But guess what? Being 25 isn't "so old" and being in your 40s and 50s isn't either, as proven by women like Aniston and Bullock continuing to exhibit beauty — both internal and external. They set an example that age really is just a number, however cliché that may sound.
I'm not saying it's the best idea to rank women against each other or quantify their beauty, but I also don't think that's what People's Most Beautiful Woman contest does. Instead, it celebrates beauty, and hopefully this trend of older women taking the award will set the tone for an overall shift on the subject. Like Aniston said in her interview with People , true beauty is "Inner confidence. Peace. Kindness. Honesty. A life well-lived." I love that last part — the "life well-lived" aspect. You can't necessarily say that in your 20s, can you? Regardless, she's sending an important message about self-acceptance.
Even though Aniston was first crowned People's Most Beautiful Woman back in 2004, it's 12 years later and she's no less beautiful. If anything, she just became more confident and insightful. Congrats to her and Bullock for proving age limits are B.S. and that beauty can extend well beyond society's expected timeframe.