Real beauty isn’t re-touched and ageing isn’t SO bad

Older beautiful womenIn the trends world we have been talking a lot recently about real beauty and the notion of celebrating imperfection. The idea of what is beautiful in cosmetic terms has been re-defined dramatically over the last twenty years and in the same way that older women have been relatively ignored by the media, the beauty industry has become guilty of making us think that growing older is something to be feared and avoided at all costs..

The “anti-ageing” market for skincare is a hugely growing demographic, which makes sense as the ageing population increases, but just as the fashion industry seems to be out of sync with how to target older women, the beauty industry is getting it equally wrong.

Some of the terminology around products for anti ageing skin care sound scary and verge on the irresponsible when targeting younger woman and are downright insulting if you are older. They almost all focus on the negative aspects of ageing and while none of us really want wrinkles, lines and saggy skin, aren’t they a sign of experience and a life lived, rather than something to be erased and blocked out. Just when did it become the norm to see any signs of getting older as flaws to be eradicated at any cost?

A recent conversation with a group of women (my age) astounded me, as several members of our party were able to list almost every wrinkle and line on their face and why they wanted (or had already in some cases) to get rid of them. I came away thinking I was either very confident and self assured, or completely deluded! But the simple truth is I simply don’t spend very much time looking in the mirror focusing on my (supposed) flaws. As isn’t that exactly what the “scientists” and cosmetic companies want us to do?

If they scare us enough into thinking ageing is the worst thing that can ever happen to us, will we all rush out and spend £100 on a pot of cream that will “change our lives?’ I’m not so sure.

I look at my mums generation who never wore sun screen, drank and smoked and pretty much ate what they wanted and they don’t look half bad. Their only skin care regime was/is a pot of Ponds or maybe even an Avon Night Cream if they are feeling flush and surgery is quite rightly reserved for when they are ill. Women of their generation may not be “flawless” (the current beauty holy grail) or line free, but they have character and the lines on their face represent wisdom and experience. I would far rather look at a face with personality, than a smooth, wrinkle free freak – which is sadly how I view older women who have had botox and surgery.

Some of the terminology used around anti ageing creams is downright ageist and wrong and personally I think its time we started to consider more seriously the effect some of the below phrases have on the way younger women look at the idea of growing older and also the impact they might have on our generation when we look in the mirror.

  • “Anti Ageing.” This in itself is a completely negative term, why not celebrate ageing?
  • “Tests on 69 women aged between 35 and 59 found the treatment began to reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines in seven days, after they used it twice a day. Some of the women who were tested said they would consider no longer having plastic surgery due to its effectiveness.” Are they actually serious – surely no-one is that stupid?
  • “………… cream is thought to be so effective it could eradicate the need for plastic surgery.” Oh please!
  • “So rather than opting for surgeries, why don’t you try out……………..” Er NO.
  •  “Designed to resist the early signs of ageing by protecting and nourishing your skin.” Resist ageing, sorry people that’s not really an option!
  • “An ultra lifting, firming and replenishing eye cream that dramatically reduces the appearance of wrinkles, crow’s feet and deep expression lines.” Crows feet and deep expression lines – God forbid we should show some feeling!
  • “Turn back the clock with ……… face care.” Why?

Those are just a few, I could go on forever. Personally any of those straplines would be enough to put me off buying any of those brands.

Vagendamag questions the way the media and brands talk to women on a daily basis and is loved by all the clever young women I know. But what about us older women, where is our voice. Isn’t it time we spoke out and said what we thought-  after all we’re the ones with the money!

Dove have always been outspoken supporters of “real beauty,” and have long featured, models of all shapes, sizes, ages and skin tones, without the smoothing qualities of Photoshop (remember Rene, my neighbour?).

Well now, they’ve taken it up a notch, and created the “unphotoshop” tool. An automatic “beautify” tool that can be downloaded and used to have the opposite effect of Photoshop –  to reveal the original untampered image.

Surely this the kind of thing we need to see more of, for our daughters sake and our own.

What do you think?


  • Marv says:

    I rarely wear sunscreen (even on holiday) as I loathe the feel of it and frankly don’t care if I end up wrinkled, I won’t have given myself worry lines from angsting about if I’ve put enough on or all the other crap I know friends worry about. Seriously. I am aware that I have genetically ‘robust’ skin, it’s olive-y, goes brown at the slightest bit of sun and no-one could ever accuse me of being an English Rose or having that milky Celtic look. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, which probably helps, but I have laughed and drunk a lot and had fun. Live, laugh, get old and die, I say, and spend the cash saved on anti-ageing stuff on gin.

  • Jane says:

    Yah Marv – totally agree – drink more gin! Jx

  • Kirsten says:

    AMEN !

  • Amanda says:

    Am instilling my lavender gins and spicy orange gin as I type, it’s maturing nicely, as am I. I find that after a well made lavender martini I don’t care too much about wrinkles A

  • mary says:

    yes, yes and yes to all the sentiments expressed here! Except Aussie women who haven’t looked after their skin do tend to pay for it. I do not like the shiny waxy looking faces I am starting to see in my age group. They may have lost wrinkles and lines but they have gained a whole extra weird factor. I am not convinced that cosmetic injections and the like are a sign of empowerment. Surely to not go down that route is a sign of inner security? And I don’t buy that argument that if you colour your hair, using Botox is no different! And usually said by the same women who spend a fortune on organic food and skincare.

  • Maddy says:

    I agree with the article,realising I am guilty of worrying about age lines etc and have spent a pointless fortune on face creams.
    I also got so fed up with being turned down for jobs ( due to my age, and that was admitted by one potential employer) that I have started my own thing which is so enjoyable. What I hate is that as soon as one turns 60 the attitude is that we have lost our marbles! Perhaps we should start a campaign celebrating our lines, wrinkles and aging.

  • marv says:

    Just to witter further – the one thing to guarantee you getting wrinkles is to worry and frown about the thought of getting them, I have decided.

    A, I have a hankering for one of your lavender martinis…

  • Anna says:

    Yes to all (especially the gin). I particularly admire the fact that all thw women in your pictures have grey hair. I have announced to several friends (of a variety of ages) recently that I intend to go grey gracefully. They were all really negative and kept telling me how aging it will look. Maybe I’m lucky as my hair is only just starting to go grey now, but having spent a lifetime keeping darker roots highlighted, I’m looking forward to having naturally coloured hair. Or should I just copy Helen Mirren and dye my greys pink?

  • j ballard says:

    On a day to day basis l feel ok in my 50 plus face and enjoy choosing creams to nourish my skin and protect it from weather. l don’t read the rubbish on the label because it really really won’ t make me look like my beautiful yoing daughters aged 15, 19,and 22 even if l spent hundreds on them. It is all abot acceptance, sad but true. Not that l’m going down without a fight, but hair, good fitting clothes and a youthful outlook on life is better than carving your poor face up.! Skin care manufacturers need to lose the ‘science’ hardsell and go back to beautiful vintage packaging using lovely natural smells and ingredients…oh and as for research, come ask me not my daughters!

  • Sue says:

    Perhaps it is easier if you have never been, or considered yourself to be, beautiful? I should have thought the effects of ageing would be more traumatic if you were the sort of person used to spending ages staring into a mirror.The thought of surgery is awful and the thought that it’s becoming considered a normal response is even worse.The person above who said that there’s nothing more ageing than being obsessed by it is, in my opinion, dead right. Whatever creams you stick on your skin, you are still going to be older.And some of that stuff is beyond expensive.The pharmaceutical companies are charlatans.

  • Nicola says:

    I tend not to notice if anyone has wrinkles. I think it’s a positive outlook and continued interest and energy for life and new experiences that give a youthful impression – and you can’t buy that in a pot!

  • Lyn says:

    I’m in my late sixties and have OK skin for my age and grey hair. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that skin care and cosmetic companies would develop and market products suitable for older women – not anti-aging creams but moisturisers or other skin products suitable for the increasingly fine and dry quality of older skin. I’m sure there is also a market for cosmetics and make-up advice suited for older woman whose skin tone and hair colour is changing. What we need are not products to prevent aging but rather products specifically designed for older women proud to be older.

  • Fiona says:

    A beautiful article. I’m only 21, but I’ve always embraced my freckles, my scars and my crinkly eyes as part of what makes me beautiful. I hope I’ll have as healthy an attitude to my appearance as the writer seems to as I get older. Thank you :)

  • Nancy says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful and refreshing post. I do agree with Lyn – it would be great if the beauty industry could take a more positive stance on ageing – I’m sure they’d sell just as many products. Btw – is anyone going to market that lavender martini?!

  • Monix says:

    Great post and thoughtful comments. I don’t think the anti ageing ads are meant for us – they ‘re aimed at the younger market to fear age. So agree with Sue regarding how much easier it must be not to have been known for one’s beauty and therefore don’t mourn the fading.
    What is clear though is that Amanda needs to give us a lavender and spiced orange gin martini party!

  • Su Mason says:

    Buy good shoes. Your face will reflect your comfort.
    At 64 with grey streaks in my hair, frown lines and pleasure lines on my forehead I think there is more to do for the rest of my life than spend money on Botox!

  • Go Jane! I am constantly telling Prs where to stick their anti-aging products (well, in more polite terms obv) – it’s just ridiculous. I’m not ashamed to say I have got by very well on (ahem) Nivea in the blue pot and a staple diet of sweets and biscuits. I have frown lines which I would rather do without – not because they make me look old but cos they make me look grumpy! But to counteract their effects I have found a great, free cure – it’s called smiling! Who knew?

  • Jane says:

    You dont look at day over 30 Navaz! All that smiling must be working Kx

  • Hmm… real beauty and the notion of celebrating imperfection? Do you mean, real beauty and the notion of celebrating authenticity, perhaps? Imperfection is such a negative word… and implies that the image makers are right to consistently use young, attractive, thin models who are airbrushed into a perceived perfection that is totally inauthentic. I don’t use ‘anti-ageing’ creams because I’m not ashamed of ageing. It’s real. And so am I.

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