I’m a middle-aged woman who’s expected to fight the process of ageing.

My Facebook side-bar is crammed with ads, clamouring for my attention…

53 year old mother looks 20 years younger
One simple trick to make you look years younger
Try this anti-ageing skin care. You'll get gorgeous skin.

One day I was tempted to click onto one of those links: I was curious. I discovered a clever marketing ploy:

We’ll send you a month’s supply of these two miraculous creams for a very low bargain price. Don’t worry: you’ll always have enough of our life-changing product. We’ll faithfully mail out a continuous supply (at the regular high price), for of course, you’ll never want to do without it ever again.*

My curiosity satisfied, I clicked to leave the website but wait, a hand held me back… Are you sure you want to leave this page? Oh yes! I’m quite sure!

I google the words, How to Look Younger.  194,000,000 results pop up in a mere 0.12 seconds. Oh my! Where to start? I glance down the page...

How to Look Younger: 6 Steps (with Pictures)
16 Ways to Look Younger With Makeup
5 Foods That'll Make You Look Younger
How to look younger in seven days
The 3 Best Facial Exercises To Look Younger
100 Ways to Look Younger...

There are millions of articles, all promising to make us look younger. There are so many, I could grow old reading them.

It seems like we are not allowed to age in peace. Anti-ageing propaganda is everywhere. 

I hop over to the website Picmonkey to do some photo editing, and what do I find? A whole array of effects that can transform ‘old me’ photos into ‘young and stunning me’ ones. There behind the lipstick icon hides a blemish remover, as well as a wrinkle remover. I can brighten my dull fading eyes, and disguise my age-spotted skin behind a quick spray of online tan. If I edit all my photos, no one need ever be aware I am ageing…. At least no one who doesn’t know me in 'real' life.

Online we can be who we desire. We can hide our age, our appearance, our name… anything we like. Here on my blog, I vaguely refer to my age as ‘middle-aged’ which isn’t really a secret. Anyone can work that out as I admit to having grown up children. I always sift through my photos carefully, until I find one in which my lines and wrinkles don’t show up clearly, before adding it to my post. It's quite easy to keep my ageing self out of the public eye.

But why am I reluctant to visibly be who I really am? 

I came across an article entitled: Bo Derek appears ageless at 56: Stars who stay forever young.

Do you remember all those famous stars who were leading us astray when we were teenagers? We looked at those young women and wished we were just like them: unreasonably thin, perfectly beautiful, dressed in the latest clothes. Now those women are causing us headaches once more. We might be dealing with wrinkles and sagging skin, but it appears time has stood still for the rich and famous. They continue to live a charmed life, made possible by money (and photoshop), while we stare into the mirror trying unsuccessfully to come to terms with ageing.

Teenagers and body image is a much talked about topic. We all want our teenage girls to have realistic expectations about their looks and weight. We don’t want them to copy their favourite movie star or pop singer or fashion model. Instead we hope they will accept themselves just as they are. Their value doesn't depend on their appearance. And we love them for who they are, not because of what they look like. We don’t want them to become depressed in their chase for an impossible dream. So why do we mothers insist on chasing our own impossible dreams? 

We are all ageing. Some of us are further down the track than others, but we are all headed in the same direction. Getting old is inevitable. Why don't we accept that? Why do we let the media and the anti-ageing industry take control of our lives? They have persuaded us that we need to look young. Are they preying on our insecurities?

We slap on all those anti-wrinkle creams, dye our grey hair and wonder about face-lifts, but we don't do it for our own pleasure. We can’t even see our own faces. As long as I don’t glance in the mirror, I'm not even aware of how I look.

So maybe we worry about how others will relate to our ageing faces. Is that why we yearn for our youthful looks? Do we believe we won’t be attractive once we look older? Maybe no one will love us. Will we be less valuable once our faces are wrinkled? Perhaps no one will want to know us if they realise just how old we actually are. Just to make sure we’d better fight to appear young. Well, it can’t hurt, can it?

Actually I think it can hurt. If we aren’t worried about hurting ourselves, our attitude could hurt our daughters. They need to see us embrace ageing with peace. Otherwise, we might save our girls from the trauma of having a poor body image as a teenager, only to discover they no longer like themselves as they begin to age.

So am I saying we should let ourselves slide towards old womanhood without a fight? No! We can still stay healthy and active, dress attractively and with care, cultivate an attitude of grace, practise the virtues, and enjoy life and who we are. We shouldn’t just give up and let ourselves ‘go’. We should rejoice in this new stage of life.

I am wondering if we can change society’s attitude about ageing. Can we wrestle control of our lives back from that giant, the anti-ageing industry, and refuse to accept the images portrayed by the media? It seems to me that the first step is for each of us to start being real: admit our age, be who we are, wrinkles and all. Now I know this isn’t easy. I am nervous. I wonder: Should I delete this post while I still have the chance?

Or should I shout...

“I’m Sue Elvis and I’m 52. I have lines and wrinkles and sagging skin, but I don’t care. I love being me!”

Will my readers creep away, no longer interested in reading this ageing woman’s blog? 

What if I post some real photos? Will everyone look at them and say, “Oh! I don’t want to know her. She's far too old for me to identify with”?

Well I shall be brave... Here's me with my beloved Andy:


Just joking! That's Faye and Dick (whoever they are.)

This next one really is me:



How about another one?


No, that's too flattering. Birthday happiness is helping to disguise the signs of old age . 

How about this photo?


Yes, this photo is better... I mean worse. (I must remember not to turn my head when posing. Just joking again!)  I really do not like this one at all.

But it's real. It's me. It's who I am. 

Looking older?  I'm trying not to care.






Image of wrinkly dog: betty face by Zemlinki, (CC BY 2.0)

* Not a quote. These are my own words.
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  1. You're 52?!!! And all this time I was under the impression you were around 45, well I just don't know what to think now!
    I'm joking of course. But seriously Sue, I think you look wonderful, you have a great smile and obviously look after your health - it shows. Although we are not similar in age, I keep coming here to read because your posts are positive, youthful (yes, youthful!) and encouraging.
    Keep up the good work and God bless.

    P.S. It's so funny the number of times I'm here reading a post when an email pops up saying you have just commented on my blog!

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    1. Kelly,

      I can continue being 45 if you like! I am quite happy for you to think of me as younger than I am. The nice thing about online friends is that we don't base our friendships on appearance or age. I am friends with people my own age, as well as those younger and older. I like that!

      We can't do much about our wrinkles and lines (unless we go to extreme measures) but we can improve our fitness and look after our health. This is what I've been concentrating on. I am sure I am fitter now than when I was 20 or more years ago. It's good to know that I can keep up with, and probably outrun many women much younger than me. When it comes down to it, I'd rather have my health than my looks!

      It seems we are both online at similar times which is great. It's nice to think of you at your computer reading my comments as I write them!

      Delete
  2. You are beautiful!!! I pray you see that about yourself!!! All this effort, time and money to look younger...forget it I say...I don't have the energy to engage. What energy I am able to muster in my whirling days I try to use living a healthier lifestyle. Besides, Faye and Dick look happy and wise!!! God Bless. Your children are beautiful too!!

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    1. Cynthia,

      As I was made in God's image, I know I am beautiful. My children tell me I am too! But I am still realistic about my appearance. I hope you will pray I will accept my ageing face with peace!

      I agree totally with you about putting our energies into living a healthier lifestyle. It's good for our daughters to see us do that.

      Yes, Andy and I will be Faye and Dick one day. We're not quite there yet but when we are older, I do hope we are happy and wise and content!

      Cynthia, thank you for your kind words. Why do we worry about revealing ourselves? When we have friends like mine, there is no need to worry.

      May God bless you and your family too!

      Delete
  3. I can't believe that you're 52! My mom just turned 53 this year. You don't look 52. You are beautiful. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. You always have something fresh to add to living and learning. I will keep reading no matter how old or wrinkly you get. God Bless.

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    1. Tina,

      I wonder what position in your family you were born. Maybe you are the eldest? My eldest daughter is married but I'm not a grandmother yet. It must be lovely for your mother to be 'young' like me (!) and have so many beautiful grandchildren to enjoy. I'm looking forward to that stage myself.

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Although it is easy for me to relate to younger women because I remember passing through those years myself, it can't be as easy for younger women to relate to those older. I really do appreciate your support.

      God bless!

      Delete
  4. Hi Sue Elvis, I am happy to join the chorus: "I too am 52, have lines and wrinkles and sagging skin, but I don’t care. I love being me!” I'm mother of 6 and grandmother of one and I hope to get the chace of having more grandchildren, grey hair and wrinkles as the time passes. I hav only one addition, let it be mostly happy wrinkles like yours.
    I wish you God's blessing and a long life.
    Charlotte aka MotherOwl.

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    Replies
    1. Uglemor,

      I knew we were twins! You have confirmed what I suspected! I have been smiling all morning over your words. I think of you as a dear friend and I appreciate you sharing one of your online secrets with me (and anyone else reading this comment!) Charlotte is such a special name for me. Of course you know I have a daughter by that name. My grandmother is also a Charlotte. Do you remember me writing about her? I was born on her birthday and I inherited her red hair. My grandmother lived until she was 93, a long life indeed. May we both live a long life with happy wrinkles!

      May God bless you and your family, including your precious new grandson!

      Delete
    2. How special. I knew you had a daughter named Charlotte, and I remember you telling the storu of being born on her birthday and inheriting her red hair and a temper to match, but not that her name was also Charlotte. Did she also have haooy wrinkles? I have the idea taht happy wrinkles comes with a long life - or maybe it's the other way around. I have to tell my children, then maybe there'll be a granddaughter Charlotte in some years.

      Thanks and many prayers.

      Delete
    3. Uglemor,

      It would be very special if you ended up with a granddaughter called Charlotte!

      Before my own Charlotte was born, someone in the family told me that my grandmother Charlotte didn't like her name. I was uncertain whether she'd like us naming our daughter after her. We tried to find another name but in the end, there wasn't one we liked nearly as much as Charlotte. When we told my grandmother the name of her newest great granddaughter she was unexpectedly very pleased! She must have changed her mind about her name. I think it is a very beautiful name.... Charlotte Mary... Don't you think that's perfect?

      Delete
  5. Loved all the pictures. You are a BEAUTIFUL woman. Your eyes sparkle when you smile. :-)

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    1. Elizabeth,

      My mother has beautiful eyes, yes full of sparkle. I would love to think I inherited them so I have a connection to her. I can't decide if I have though! It's funny how we can't see ourselves as others do.

      Thank you for your kind words. You didn't even mention how separated we are in age! Perhaps with friends age doesn't matter.

      May God bless you.

      Delete
  6. With each photo, a bit more of your loveliness appears. Absolutely! We have things in common, also. I USED to be 52 :). :) :) !

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    1. Nancy,

      "I USED to be 52 :). :) :)" Thank you for the smile. I love having lots of things in common with you! As each year passes, I can identify with more and more people. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Growing older is good!

      God bless!

      Delete
  7. This was delightful, Sue.

    Your pics are just beautiful...love them all, friend. I'm only a few years behind you, but I get your sentiment and I embrace it.... Altho I do hate the awful gray hairs that crop in and I have literally been going grey since my late 20s....so, can I confess to buying Revlon's "medium blonde"-- (really my natural color! ) at walmart once in a while? It's my one tendency toward vanity. Been doing it for 20 years. Yikes. Hate to admit it, but it's true.
    Funny, but my Mom always always looked younger than she was. She passed away 2 weeks shy of her 88 bday and not until the last year of her life did she even look as if she was nearing her 80s! Anyway, she'd used Clairol's "Medium Brown" for years and years and years b/c she was grey since HER mid 20s! Finally, when she hit 75, she stopped. She went grey and said, "I'm done fighting it." I have to admit, she looked great with grey hair, but it was hard to adjust to a Mom who actually was succumbing to age!

    I love the comments on your posts, too Sue; it's as if all your friends gather for a little conversation to discuss and further your piece each time! Like a get together over tea in one of our kitchens!

    Ok, I need to get back to some lesson planning. We start school on Tuesday here....Getting ready for mass as well...
    Altho, it's already Monday by you!

    Thanks for the fun and have a great day!
    Love ya
    C

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Chris,

      Your comments are always so delightful! Thank you!

      I think I understand about the hair colouring. It's important to feel good about ourselves. Younger women dye their hair just to have fun so why not older ones too? It's a bit like changing clothes. I don't dye my hair as it isn't grey. But if I didn't have red hair that is slowly getting lighter in colour, I might consider hair dye too. I used to hate having red hair. I've discovered it's not that bad after all!

      I guess even if you didn't mind having grey hair, people are used to seeing you as a medium blonde. That's who you are to them. I imagine it would be hard to suddenly change. Everyone would have to adjust to the new natural you, just like you had to with your mother. I'm sure you'd still be beautiful even without Revlon's help, but it's whatever you're comfortable with!

      You wrote...She went grey and said, "I'm done fighting it." I like that! I guess dyed hair requires lots of upkeep. It would in my case as my hair grows very quickly. I'd be touching up the roots every week or so!

      Chris, I enjoy our conversations in the combox too! Yes, I can imagine us all sitting around the kitchen table discussing a topic in a very friendly way. I am always so grateful when friends stop by and add their thoughts. My posts wouldn't be half as interesting if it wasn't for all the wonderful comments readers leave.

      I hope your new school term gets off to a great start. Enjoy your last day of holiday.

      God bless! xx

      Delete
  8. You look amazing for 52!
    I loved all the photos of you!
    I don't think looking older is really a big issue. We are all children of God, and we wouldn't be here without Him!
    God is proud of us all, no matter what! He loves us because of who we are inside.

    Lots of Love,
    -Gemma

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    Replies
    1. Gemma,

      Thank you for you kind comment. You are quite right: Our souls are much more important than our outside appearances.

      I can see you relate very well to people of all ages! Thank you for reading my post. With love to you too!

      Delete
  9. Sue, you are adorable! And from what I read on your blog, I would say, "ageless." Can't imagine you ever being "old." I think about this stuff too though. I remember my well-padded grandmother and great-aunts with their long grey hair pinned in a bun, and their fascinating stories of the "olden days." They were so huggable! Now, grannies run around looking like super-models...well, some of them do :)

    I stuggle to find a balance in this aging game. I do color my hair, but I think of it as similar to wearing makeup...not a big deal. I know my husband likes me to look nice....I wish I could say that was my only reason for wanting to...that I wasn't a bit vain. But I know I am.

    Still, there is something so sad about a woman who is clearly trying to look and dress way younger than she actually is. Thankfully, I can depend on my sister to keep me in the right decade :)

    Love your hair..not just the red, but the cute, swingy cut. My hair doesn't swing..it frizzes..lol. Big hugs to my beautful, secret sister!

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    1. Patricia,

      Your grandmother and great-aunts sound so lovely! I wonder what sort of grandmother I will be. Somehow I think I may become one of the small and scrawny variety! I'll have to work on expanding my lap so all my grandchildren can climb on and hug me!

      Oh yes, it's important to make an effort to look nice. I sometimes tease my girls by telling them it's time for me to adopt my old lady hair cut and old lady clothes. I say I'm going to have my hair cut short and simple, and I'm going to wear track pants everyday. They protest, "You can't do that, Mum!" No, my children and Andy still want me to make the most of myself. I can understand how your husband feels! Anyway, it's enjoyable making ourselves look good for the people we love.

      "I can depend on my sister to keep me in the right decade." I wonder if you go fashion shopping together. I can just imagine you enjoying a shopping day out with your sister. My sister next down in age to me is very good at choosing clothes and looking attractive. I remember when we were younger, she'd take me shopping and give me her opinion on clothes. She had the most beautiful maternity clothes, and very generously gave them all to me after she'd finished with them. I felt like such a stylish pregnant mother!

      My hair is thick and dead straight. I fear I have got stuck in a rut not having changed my hair style in a long time, but my hairdresser agrees that a classic bob seems to suit my hair perfectly. I am sure you are much more adventurous than me!

      I love having a secret sister. Hugs to you too!

      Delete

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