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.
* Not a quote. These are my own words.