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{Beauty} What 50 used to look like

2011 May 25

In 1900, the average life expectancy in the United States was 49, according to New York Times article. And a look back at the rare woman who did age into her FOF years can be a bit of a shock. Back then, 50 was the new 70. And, today? Age really ain’t nothing but a number…

Take a look at these famous FOFs over the past hundred years.  Do you think we are aging more gracefully? And if so, why?

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Images via History Cooperative, Chronicle, Wikipedia, Art Posters & Prints, ACSU, Guardian UK, Dorothy Parker, Wikipedia, All Posters, Boston.com, UPI, and Zimbio

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  • Gail Fitzpatrick says:

    I would love to see you identify 10 important women from past or present who do not wear makeup! I think they would stand out as being dedicated to what they do more than how they can look younger or more glamorous. They are FFOFs–Feeling Fabulous Over Fifty. I’ll start: Georgia O’Keefe. (Marie Curie fits this category well, too.)

  • Hawklady says:

    The lack of good sanitation, health care, and often a limited diet combined with no dental care, birth control or antibiotics took a toll on both the men and women of that time period. I often hear folks extolling the virtues of that time stating they ate healthier and lived healthier in a simpler time. They are so uninformed. Sewage ran in the street, they used a chamber pot or an outhouse. Water had to be hauled and heated for bathing so that was done infrequently without the understanding how their lack of personal hygiene put them at risk for illness. No, I am not interested in that simpler time.

  • belindabg says:

    For me, the best looking one of these women is Julia Child, because she shows an EXUBERANCE FOR LIFE. She lived into her 90′s and married late in life compared to her peers. She never let her age hold her back from anything she wanted to do, and she did everything with GUSTO.
    Also, she cooked with butter…LOL. Gotta love her….

  • Ali Moss says:

    Amen, and perfectly put, Janice Caceres!!!

  • Janice Caceres says:

    I don’t think we should compare Hollywood plastic women, like Brinkley, who have everything at their fingertips and care little for other than themselves, with significant women of yesterday. The Hollywood set, especially since the golden days, have the wealth and leisure for the latest treatments which are out of reach for most of us and undiscovered years ago. As far as many other of the women pictured, they significantly contributed to history, during periods when life was much harder, even for the wealthy. Marie Curie gave her life for science, Roosevelt for her country. Graham for the arts. Granted, Katherine Hepburn, while Hollywood, was so much more than a face on the screen. She was an icon, and had a beauty and reality that lasted a lifetime. But, her photo takes were still enhanced. Some of these women gave their time and energy to literature and art, some as the woman behind a power. Mrs. Kennedy is a tribute to beauty and class through the ages. To even put a Christie Brinkley type on the same page as these women is, in my opinion, a travesty. Perhaps Hilary Clinton or Laura Bush, or Michelle Obama or Condalisa Rice. A real woman. How about a Jane Goodall in there somewhere. Or, if one must go to the “stars”, a star who actually cares about something other than her looks. But Hollywood, especially nowadays, is phony and is not a level of superficial looks the average woman should be expected to attain. Real life leaves REAL scars. For real woman. And the harder the life, the more it takes away from “looks”. I admire those who look older than we think they should have. They earned every line and wrinkle. No where, anywhere, should real women be compared to Hollywood plastic. No where should women of yesterday be compared with women of today.

  • Liz says:

    Interesting article. However, Christie Brinkley is now 57, in 2011, not 2001. It was also published that she’s had cosmetic surgery, but then most celebrities her age and younger, have.

  • corinne garrett says:

    Not the prettiest lady of the era to choose. People (male & female) had harder lives, and their faces showed it. Makeup wasn’t workin’ it for this first lady, not to mention the nip and tuck technologies we have nowadays that would have helped her immensely. Botox and Lancome do make a difference. Her shoulders hint at a svelte, smaller stature, but that southern belle style dress makes her hindquarters look like an elephant’s – We are much better camoflage artists today, PLUS we are more worldly, wise, and wonderful.

  • susan says:

    What a relief I was born in the boomer Age!! i remeber my Mom was mistaken for my sister alot. So maybe it genes or the beauty routine I have been taught since a little girl that has helped. I ahope the future holds even more great products and lasers to help us stay so youthful. But I truly believe it is a state of mind that determines alot of our looks. Susan

  • cyndi g. says:

    Also skin care not a priority then. I believe we were still using lye based soaps until the sixties. Other things that aged us was overuse of sun( which we can see in the tanning bed users today), alcohol. And lest you forget, “a woman’s work was never done>” so poor rest definitely contributed.

  • Liz says:

    I would love to look as beautiful as Katherine Hepburn, as chic as Coco Chanel, as wise as Marie Curie or Eleanor Roosevelt. Aging gracefully is more than avoiding wrinkles, it’s gaining wisdom and power and the grace to use it all.

  • Cynthia says:

    The single largest beauty advance was the advent of modern conveniences which, essentially, freed women from a lifetime of back-breaking drudgery. You’d age quickly, too, if you spent almost every second of every day laboring and never getting ahead. Talk about stress!

  • Sue Haugh says:

    President Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865 not 1965.

  • Tammy says:

    Come on we have face lifts, hair dye and diets coming out of our ears. Of course women of today look younger. The real question is it worth it to do all that to look years younger. The with the toll on our bank accounts and yo-yo diets I’m not too sure it is.

  • Mary says:

    ooops…. surely not 1965?

  • Toby Wollin says:

    For any woman born before 1945, there were a lot of factors which aged women long before their time: childhood diseases, no antibiotics (my mom had strep throat, which developed into rheumatic fever, which injured one of her heart valves which harmed her all of her life), poor dental care, lack of birth control contributing to far too many children to birth and then care for.