*Links marked with asterisks are affiliate links, these help Ree with running costs of the blog
I’m often asked to comment about my views on how older women ‘look’, and my answer is always the same; beautiful. Anyone hoping for a juicier statement will find that boring, but I actually mean it.
As a mother of three, and in my forties, I worry about the pressure put on teenagers and women to look a certain way, be it younger, or thinner or whatever is being written about at the time.
With the proliferation of social media almost tormenting us with ‘insta-perfect’ or ‘fake-book’ lives, it makes me worry about the impact on our own sense of self-beauty, esteem and belief. Is it creating a culture of deep rooted ‘compare and despair’?
I’m often left reeling by the many negative comments I see on women and ageing. In Leah Hardy’s recent Daily Telegraph article: ‘would you have a nip tuck to keep your job’ highlighted the toxic effects of ageism on women’s attitudes to their appearance when at work.
Despite offering evidence suggesting that our brains don’t slow down until we are 70 plus, she revealed that women in their forties are turning to surgical intervention and lying on their CVs to stop themselves facing prejudice and demotion in the workforce.
She went on to talk to a number of ‘ageless’ women, whose aim is to look like they could be anything from 35 – 50, who deliberately ‘blur’ the years to avoid detection as an older woman for as long as possible.
Whilst our mantra at Studio 10, the brand I founded specifically for 35-plus women, is all about ageless beauty, this is meant as a celebration of the beauty in every age, not hiding your age as a form of self-protection from discrimination. Sadly, though, I think this is the reality we’re faced with.
Whether we like it or not, there is an expectation around women, how we look and our age, so whilst I don’t fundamentally agree with it, I can understand why some women feel the need to turn to surgery to extend their careers.
I’m not anti-surgery in the slightest little bit; actually it’s something I often find myself thinking about and partly for the reasons above.
If you look in the mirror and feel that some botox or a ‘nip and tuck’ is for you, and makes you feel good, then go for it. But I don’t want to feel ‘forced’ to do it in some kind of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ mentality.
All this pressure to remain and look ‘forever young’ leaves women miserable, confused and held-back. It’s not for anyone to judge us and it’s certainly no-one else’s business than ours.
The same goes to a lesser degree for dying your hair; there are so many articles on whether it’s ok to dye grey hair or not. I like my shining chestnut locks, and dye my hair regularly. I have a friend who adores her elegant silvery grey, and I’m pretty sure Helen Mirren rocks hers too.
But it doesn’t stop endless articles from one side or the other suggesting that you ‘must’ dye your hair to stop you looking mumsy, or you must ‘not’ dye your hair or you can’t call yourself a feminist and you’re letting the side down.
When it comes to getting older, I sort of feel we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The irony is that at sixty plus, it seems all the insecurity finally fades and women report feeling stronger and happier with themselves then at any other age. What we need is to show off and highlight our fabulous, fearless older role models.
Helena Christensen in a recent interview for The Daily Telegraph described the old ‘rules of beauty’, stating that she is sick of being asked about ageing, telling Celia Walden:
“This is something only women ever have to deal with, not men. Why do men never ever get asked about ageing?”
“If women weren’t reading about the constant pressure of ageing,” she goes on, “it might not be in their heads. And I don’t want any woman to feel that there are any limits imposed by age.”
Actress Susan Sarandon, who was recently attacked by Piers Morgan on her revealing red-carpet cleavage, shares this sentiment. She’s joined Dame Helen Mirren as beauty ambassador to L’Oreal and wants to use the exposure to highlight how sexy and dynamic older women are, saying:
“Beauty comes from within, from living in gratitude and understanding that everything is out of your control.”
I think we can retain some control over our ageing faces, we should be allowing one another to decide where that control is.
I tell my teenage daughters every day (while stealing their clothes);
“Never allow yourself to be defined by someone else’s definition or stereotype of beauty; you’re beautiful on the inside and outside – believe it and in yourself.”
The sooner we all feel the same, the better all our later years are going to be! So, when it comes to surgery, provided it’s a personal choice, I’m all for it – do what you like.
Unless otherwise indicated products reviewed are press or brand examples. Links may be affiliated links which means that if you make a purchase though one of our links we receive a small commission which helps support and run this website.