I’m going to channel my inner Jennifer Lopez and “Get Loud” about something for a moment. The singer, actor, and entrepreneurial triple threat is Vogue’s December cover star. Good for her! In the accompanying profile, published Tuesday morning, J.Lo gets real about becoming Mrs. Affleck in her Bennifer 2.0 love story (sweet!), hits her favorite political talking point about “kids in cages” (a nice try!), and confesses to feeling like an “outsider” within the circle of Hollywood It Girls (so sad! She and Selena should chat).
As far as fashion magazine profiles go, it was pretty par for the course. J.Lo and the writer (Bob Haskell, a frequent Vogue cover star profiler) hung out at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel and on the set of an upcoming project while caked in fake blood. We hear about what the megastar ate at the Polo Lounge (“a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar”), and got answers to our burning questions like, “Is she as beautiful in person?” (“She is absolutely as beautiful in person.”)
Fourteen paragraphs in, I was beginning to feel proud of the ur-beauty mag, because it had yet to comment on whether J.Lo looks “good for her age.” But there, nestled next to a note about what she was wearing for the restaurant interview—“a black denim jacket with the collar turned up,” ugh that’s so Vogue!—was the dreaded statement, the forbidden fruit, and beauty media’s achilles heel: “Her skin is preternaturally youthful—perhaps the twin effect of DNA and the olive oil–rich tinctures in her [beauty] line.”
Putting aside the “tinctures,” beauty and fashion media outlets calling J.Lo “youthful” is comparable to Chris Pratt being annoying: They just can’t help it, and will continue to do so in perpetuity! I’m imagining Mr. Haskell launching into an internal monologue as he slams open the nearest thesaurus, thumbing through its pages and . the urge to scratch the “appearance of youth as the highest form of beauty” itch. Don’t call her youthful. Don’t do it. Anything but that. J.Lo’s skin is…beautiful? Astonishing? As shiny as the iridescent scales on the cover of The Rainbow Fish? Fuck it! There is only one true way, and it is the way of God: J.Lo’s skin is preternaturally youthful!!!!!
I know this may come as a surprise, but it is possible to compliment a middle-aged woman without positioning her as youth-adjacent. We can just say she looks good—not for her age, but for humankind in general. She’s got good genes; she doesn’t drink much; she wears sunscreen; all that jazz (and expensive beauty treatments and all the other anti-aging gifts that being very, very rich brings). I’m fairly certain we’ve collectively been telling J.Lo she looks young since Justin Bieber hopped out of the womb and onto Usher’s radar. Even in 2022, calling a 53-year-old woman who is objectively gorgeous “youthful” is pretty lazy, given that the same media outlets have long defined J.Lo’s worth and enduring appeal through anti-aging hacks and skincare. Lopez herself has even told us that she wants everyone to stop telling her she looks good for her age: In 2020, Elle published a profile of her headlined, “JLo Wants You To Stop Telling Her She Looks Good for 50.”
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In addition to calling Lopez the “dewy-skinned den mother of us all” (a very real quote from the article) without acknowledging that she’s dewy because she gets regular $295 treatments from a celebrity facialist, Vogue gave us this masterpiece to accompany the profile: “From Skin to Nails, How Jennifer Lopez Looks So Insanely Good at 53,” which begins with the sentence, “At 53, Jennifer Lopez has never looked better,” and goes on to tell us that J.Lo has a great “bum” because she has a personal trainer but also because she gets a treatment called the EMSculpt Butt Lift, which is akin to doing “20,000 squats in one session.”
I, personally, would love a Vogue writer to hype up J.Lo for her accomplishments and for looking great, period—without obsessing over whether or not she gets Botox. (By the way, she swears she has never dipped her toes in that eternal fountain of youth, and might even be better at keeping up the ruse than the queen of “ageless beauty,” Kim Kardashian.)
Is J.Lo a 53-year-old woman who is hot? Yes. But Vogue doesn’t have to try to explain away that seemingly foreign concept. She can just be hot.