New thoughts about an old challenge
It was interesting (and very flattering, thank you) that so many of the comments on my social media posts about last week's blog mentioned my picture (big shout out to the fabulously talented Andy Tyler for all the portrait shots I use on this site). Along with two pieces of content from this month's issues of Good Housekeeping and Woman and Home, it got me thinking about the challenge of getting, and looking, older in a society that's so stubbornly obsessed with the beauty of youth (I'll just say 'Love Island' and leave it at that).
First up, the Woman and Home pages. They're actually an ad, from L'Oreal for their Age Perfect range and they feature this line-up of magnificent women, whose ages range from 80 to 55
We'll gloss over that this is hardly a representative selection of older women generally. And whilst it goes without saying they're all immaculately made-up and lit, let's give L'Oreal the benefit of the substantial doubt that they haven't been airbrushed to within an inch of their lives (Helen Mirren apparently insisted that was not to happen when she became a face of the brand). Instead let's focus on the fact that here are a group of unapologetically powerful, successful older (and in one case, you'd have every right to say 'old') women who are still making their mark in a profession that's historically female age-averse, and who, with the benefit of whatever help (more of that in a moment) are still looking bloody fantastic.
Does it mean I think I'll end up looking as good as them if I use the range? No of course not. (As an aside - it made me love Helen even more when she was quoted as saying that "moisturiser probably does f*** all".....at an event where she was appearing as a L'Oreal ambassador. Oops). But it does lift my spirits that the message of this ad, both visually and in the slogan, is such a positive, empowering one. We can all do with a helping of positivity and empowerment as we get older, so I'm happy to take it where I can.
Then we get to Good Housekeeping. And specifically the cover line that reads 'Look Younger Special'.
One of my big bug-bears during the decade I edited Woman's Weekly was the media's clarion call to women, in particular, but men too, to want to look younger than they do. My belief was, and is, that what we actually want, is to look the best we can for the age we are. (And if that happens to mean appearing to be younger than our actual years, well, thank you, we'll take that.) And the response I got from readers certainly backed that up.
Here's the thing though, when I turned to that section of the issue (which I was horrified to find was called 'The Big Anti-Ageing Rethink'. Can we PLEASE STOP being anti ageing and instead be PRO ageing. And breathe....) I found myself not only fascinated by the features on various different cosmetic surgery-lite procedures but seriously considering trying at least a couple of them.
I've never argued against anyone doing whatever they choose to look the aforementioned best they can. And whilst I admire really well done cosmetic surgery (step forward Ms Fonda) I abhor the trend for overdone procedures and fillers that result in practically removing all trace of a person's original features, or render them incapable of movement or expression. (Yes, I'm talking about you Cher).
So why do I feel hypocritical for a) not being content to allow myself and my looks to age gracefully and naturally (or as naturally as as someone who uses cupboards full of products and cosmetics) and b) considering having surgical intervention to look better than I think I do?
Answers on a post card please.
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