The growing acceptance of ageing

Jul 9, 2024 | News

Women have been sold on the idea for years that beauty is synonymous to youth. Chasing it is a global industry worth tens and billions. Many are now reclaiming their positive attitude towards their bodies and faces. The message is to grab life, not try to erase it

What if the phrase “You look young for you age” was not a compliment? What if the comment was neutral or even insulting? ‘Why are you making a judgment on my face’?

Anna Murphy, 52 year-old fashion director is one of these. She is the author of Destination Fabulous. One reviewer called it an “empowering manifesto to change our attitudes towards ageing”. She tells Positive News that “all I did” with her book was to say that you don’t need to inject anything into your face or worse, cut your face. “It was obvious, but people were relieved.”

It’s not a subtle rebranding, a renaming ‘crows feet’ into’smilelines’, it’s women on the ground who are turning away from the relentless advertising. Fearne Cotton said that the lines on her face are there because she “likes laughing, I love smiling, I am often surprised, and I concentrate and focus on things I really enjoy.”

Kate Groombridge, who modeled when she was younger (main image), has returned to modelling at 42 because there is a high demand for unretouched, natural images of older women. For the first time since she became a teenager, a recent shoot for Boots Magazine captured her skin exactly as it is, freckles, laugh lines, and baby hairs. She was initially hesitant to call the modelling agencies she used to work for, but “has been rushed off her feet ever since “.

Jessica DeFino is an outspoken critic and fiercely anti-Botox writer who has 95,000 subscribers for her newsletter The Unpublishable. DeFino’s mission is to challenge the global cosmetic industry. She debunks myths, questions pseudoscience, and confronts a narrative which encourages women to spend a lot of money on themselves to feel better.

Pamela Anderson, the former Baywatch star, made headlines recently when she went makeup-free at Paris Fashion Week. “Challenging ourself is what keeps us beautiful and young.” “I think that beauty comes from within, and you don’t need to play the games,” she said about the decision.

Jessica Defino, a writer and critic of modern beauty standards, is outspoken in her criticism. Image credit: Lucy Kinnen

The social media has helped the beauty industry reach a wider audience, and has also – there are signs – helped us to wake up. The millennial generation, who have grown up with photoshopping and retouching, as well as other visual ‘lies,’ may be ready to say enough.

This is not to say that this is a revolution. Recent headlines have revealed Gen Z’s crippling fear about ageing. Children as young as 10 years old are reportedly asking for anti-ageing products. There’s plenty of age-positive content available if you know what to look for.

Change can take time. “We’ve been fed fear about ageing right from fairytales, which feature gorgeous, young, smudge-free maidens and horrible old hags,” says Murphy.

It’s about women choosing to turn away from the relentless black hole of marketing and grab life, not erase it

Then Hollywood and the beauty industry will take over. It’s not surprising that Erica Aberg, a researcher at the University of Turku, Finland, found that women internalise a fear of aging from a culture that doesn’t value ageing. This message is then spread by friends, relatives, media, etc.

According to Aberg’s study, appearance has become a form ‘capital.’ Murphy says, “I didn’t worry about getting older in my 20s, thinking it was this terrible incurable illness that was headed my way. But young women feel like that because they’re so directly .”

The late Carroll E Izard, a former professor of Psychology at the University of Delaware, studied the importance of facial movements and argued that they are “an essential part of social communication.” Another good reason to avoid Botox.

Anna Murphy says that social media is a part of the problem, but it can also be a part of the solution. Credit: Lucy Kinnen

There are now many voices actively rejecting the impossible beauty ideal. Murphy says that social media is both a part of the problem and a potential solution. She shares a common experience: women who attend her book events tell her that they felt pressured to get Botox but have decided not to after hearing her speak.

It’s not about the beauty industry attempting to jump on board the body-positive bandwagon. Women are choosing to ignore the marketing black hole and live their lives, not erase them. Groombridge said: “I wouldn’t say I’m proud of my wrinkles but I had a great time making them .”

On social media and in real life, it’s easy to connect with your own generation. But if you only see young faces, everything else seems exaggerated. Murphy says, “As we age, it is our responsibility to show the younger generations that ageing should not be feared but rather embraced.” It’s liberating not to worry about what others think of you.

Although I’m not proud of my wrinkles I had a lot of fun making them

Lyn Slater has compared growing older to a rose. “There are thorns, but there’s also the bloom and there’s that bud of growth, potential and self-discovery.”

It is worth listening to these voices for a variety of reasons. Research has shown that those who have positive associations with ageing age better and live a longer life.

Anna Murphy asks: “Is aging a simple proposition? No. Has it complexities, including negatives? Yes. Is it something that we should grab onto with both hands, rather than try to negate in any way? Ageing is living .”

Main image: Kate Groombridge. Credit: Lucy Kinnen

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