Ok, so I haven’t quite got to the stage where I’m having to shave my beard off but, this week, I’m interested in whether we can reverse the trend of ageing being seen in a negative light and relieve some of the relentless pressure to ‘retain our youthful looks’? Whilst this notion might just put me out of a blog, it was the topic of a recent panel discussion organised by top British beauty blogger and founder of the 30+ Blog Collective, the London Beauty Queen in collaboration with Eau Thermale Avène.

At the table were some industry bigwigs…

Jane Cunningham from britishbeautyblogger.com and one of the leading authorities on beauty, her blog not only provides daily news and opinion, but she champions the need for change in the way women over a certain age are spoken to when it comes to buying products.

Dr Sam Bunting is a leading Harley Street cosmetic dermatologist who is widely regarded as the beauty insiders best kept secret (not anymore!)

Dr Linda Papadopoulos is a psychologist, TV personality and author of “Psychological Approaches to Dermatology”. With an interest in the psychological side of dermatology, she is an avid campaigner for the ‘positive body image’.

Amanda Miles is the Marketing Manager at Eau Thermale Avène and has worked in the beauty industry for over 20 years and provided the inspiration for the evening with the launch of their PhysioLift range for sensitive skin.

DISCUSSION…

Whilst this may have been a promo for Eau Thermale Avène’s new Physiolift range, nevertheless there was some interesting discussion around “the way ageing is seen by society, the effects it has and, how we can talk about ageing without the negative, insecurity-inducing rhetoric of the anti-ageing industry.” Amanda Miles

It can certainly be said that the beauty industry does focus on ‘correcting’ our so-called ‘imperfections’ and ‘reversing the signs of ageing’, but when did these imperfections and signs become such negative symbols? In Western culture, old age is not venerated as it is elsewhere in the world; but, just as youth is celebrated, age, particularly in the aesthetic sense, is regarded with disdain. As Buddhist monk Koshin Paley Ellison says “People themselves when they’re ageing feel that there’s something wrong with them and they’re losing value.”

So what did the bigwigs have to say about the way in which the beauty industry targets our insecurities and, is there a more positive approach toward ageing starting to take shape? Avène’s take, according to Amanda Miles, is that the “message should be that ageing skin has a different set of needs to younger skin, which is a neutral message, and one that doesn’t affect the customer’s self-esteem or self-image.”

All hail to that, but what about the relentless bombardment of unrealistic and very often photoshopped images of ‘youthful temptresses’ and ‘celebrity icons’, revered as having ‘the perfect body’ or ‘flawless skin’?! And why are older women referred to as “looking good for their age”?! With much of today’s beauty industry emphasizing sexuality, youthfulness and physical attractiveness, there seems to be no place for us old birds with saggy knees, droopy jowls and a butt that looks like a bag of cottage cheese! Or is there…?

THE FUTURE…

Well I may be a little premature in that sense, but some of the comments made by the panelists and bloggers on the night would indicate that the tide is beginning to turn and here’s why…

“We have a responsibility to call out filtered images and be more real” Jane Cunningham

“Amplified self-awareness is happening – we need to remember who we are, not what we are told to be” Dr Linda P

“There’s a backlash against anti-ageing but it’s a privilege to age, right?” Blogger

“If older women aren’t seeing themselves in the media and advertising, is this why they can often feel invisible?” Blogger

“Bloggers have a platform and should use them responsibly. Awkward things happen to us all; let’s embrace them!” Blogger

And, if you look around you, it would certainly seem that the media, in all its forms, is now beginning to adopt a more positive approach toward images of older and more ‘realistic’ models. Take 80 year old literary star Joan Didion for example, who is now the face of French fashion house Céline – her grey hair and wrinkles are celebrated, not hidden 🙂 Helen Mirren for L’Oréal and Charlotte Rampling for NARS are both strong women carrying the message that you should embrace and exploit the beauty in your advancing years.

AND WHAT OF INJECTABLES AND COSMETIC SURGERY?…

Well that deserves a whole blog spot all of its own I think, but for the purposes of this musing, I firmly believe there is a real trend toward a more natural approach when it comes to ‘growing old gracefully’. Women (and men), for the most part, don’t want to look ‘done’ and are still keen to be able to move their facial muscles in step with their emotions and, whilst I’m as guilty as sin when it comes to buying into the ‘anti-ageing industry’, I try to accept that I can’t turn back the hands of time and shouldn’t want to either…

“Age is an issue of mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter…”

                                                                                                                             Mark Twain

 

🙂