Face: One Square Foot of Skin
“She’s really aged”. That is a line I’ve heard so often about women who used to be young and pretty. Now, apparently, they are “aged” and less beautiful as a consequence. Why does our society discard middle-aged women’s faces? Justine Bateman’s Face: One Square Foot of Skin seeks to answer that question, not in academic or scholarly terms, but through fictional vignettes. The vignettes represent her own experiences (my favorite was the last one, seemingly a direct autobiographical perspective) and those of a couple of dozen people whom she interviewed. There is also an excellent first-person introduction excoriating the views that we’ve gotten so used to regarding women’s faces as they age. I am in the same age bracket as Bateman and haven’t avoided these issues with my own face and those of my friends and family. I’ve also laughed at the notion that middle-aged women are invisible, which gives us a kind of superpower (I’ve often joked that I could steal from stores because no one sees me). In Face, the vignettes are a little uneven. Some are interesting, while others are monotone, stiff, and repetitive. But, overall, the book has a lot to offer and is a much-needed viewpoint on an important and seemingly universal issue.
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