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“After a certain age, every man has the face he deserves,” claims Jean-Baptiste Clamence, the self-proclaimed ‘judge-penitent’ in Albert Camus’ final novel, The Fall. A century earlier, Abraham Lincoln had decided that the all-important age was forty years, reportedly refusing to appoint someone to a post in his government because he didn’t like his appearance. Aged forty-six and on his deathbed, George Orwell more prudently proclaimed that it was at fifty that “every man has the face he deserves.” None of them seemed to have a view about women. Nor did any of them consider the altogether more plausible suggestion that it is our parents, partners, employers and government who have the most to answer for when it comes to our faces, and that, by the same token, we might ourselves be held a little accountable for the faces of those we share our lives with.

more from Constantine Sandis at Philosophy Now here.