Are you trying to stop time when it comes to your skin?
You go to a birthday party, ask the birthday girl how old she is. Cue horrified gasps and whispers of “You don’t ask someone their age!” But why not? In this day and age, as soon as women hit 35, they prefer not to reveal how old they really are, as if they’re ashamed that they’re not the 20 year old girl they used to be.
With anti-wrinkle creams surrounding us in our daily lives, it’s no surprise that many of today’s women are afraid of getting a line or two on their face. Eye creams, expensive anti-ageing moisturisers and Botox, people will go to extreme measures to stay looking the way they did when they were 21. But the question is, why? Why are we so afraid of ageing, and why is it wrong to have smile lines?
“Ageing is a serious subject,” says psychologist Dr Misty Hook in her article Are You Afraid to Age?, “The prevention and treatment of it is big business. We spend millions of dollars annually to erase wrinkles and age spots, lift sagging body parts, rejuvenate skin, and replace worn out body parts.” According to abc.net.au, Australians spend at least $370 million dollars on anti-ageing products every year, that’s a hell lot of money spent in order to keep your youth.
But aren’t fine lines a sign of wisdom? You’ve lived through your life, you’ve had good and bad experiences, and you should proudly show that off. “One of the greatest compliments you can give even a somewhat older person is, ‘You don’t look your age!’ “says Dr Hook, “As with most other topics we fear, ageing is not something we discuss much. Young people cannot imagine it and older people would rather not think about it.”
We’re told to start using anti-ageing creams early, and that prevention is key. But the truth is, you can’t prevent growing older, it’s inevitable. While you can prevent wrinkles, there really isn’t any need to. Beautiful women such as Meryl Streep, Julie Andrews and Glenn Close have all learnt the art of ageing gracefully, they work with their age, not against it. “We ought to accept that there are good parts about getting older — and celebrate them,” says Dr Hook.
Michelle Portman* is a 49 year old mother-of-two, who is a regular user of anti-ageing products, “I remember seeing my first wrinkle when I hit 30 and I was devastated. Ever since then I’ve upped the anti-ageing routine. I don’t want to look old, no one does,” she says. Michelle, who has tried every cream on the market, has also tried Botox to help her retain her youth. “Sometimes my husband looks at all the money I spend on these products and he explains how I could be using it for something better. Even I know I could spend it on something better, but once you start trying to appear younger, it sort of becomes an addiction.”
While everyone is trying their best to get rid of fine lines, truth is, so many people don’t notice your insecurities. “When I talk to my friends and family about my wrinkles, they tell me that they don’t even notice them,” says Michelle.
So how can we learn to accept our age? “It will be difficult. But if we can change our perspective, it will be worth it,” says Dr Hook, “I remind myself that the ‘glow of youth’ look was erased by the creation of new relationships and the maintenance of old ones, grief from the death of loved ones, years of training and experience in my chosen profession, the pain of physical injuries, the joys and hardships of having a child, and the myriad pleasures of music, books, entertainment and intimacy. In other words, I no longer look young because I’ve had a life. I cannot be unhappy about that.” – Basmah Qazi
Photo taken from PoehlerFey’s Flickr photo stream.