THE NEEDLESS QUEST FOR YOUTHFULNESS

The tide is turning as women insist on the right to celebrate beauty at any age.

Do you hate the way you look? I hope not. To my amazement this has become a thing of the past for me. To be clear: I’m no babe. I’m not slim and toned and the lines and creases are there for all to see. In fact I’m really starting to look my age. But while dressing up on occasion is fun and I generally try to wear at least a little make up when leaving the house in an attempt to avoid traumatising the neighbours, my personal appearance has become less of a concern than it once was. It’s not that I don’t care how I look – far from it. It’s just that I’ve made peace with it, because there are better things to do and life’s too short to fret over the inevitable. At last! It feels brilliant to be free of this miserable pressure. And as a result I feel way more confident.

I’m beginning to wonder if getting past the menopause gives us a new sense of confidence about our looks. While a recent survey showed our body confidence dips to 30% between 45 and 54, it then soars to 43% when we get past 55 – the peak age for feeling good about the way we look.

This is incredible. At a point in our lives when we have supposedly become ‘invisible’ we feel happier in our skin than ever before.

In The Elastic Generation, a 2018 report by leading advertising agency J. Walter Thompson that focused on the hopes and dreams and opinions of UK women in their 50s and 60s, there were some very interesting observations that sounded like music to my ears. “For decades, the beauty industry has told women to fight the signs of ageing. Now the tide is turning as women insist on the right to celebrate beauty at any age”.

“At a point in our lives when we have supposedly become ‘invisible’ we feel happier in our skin than ever before.”

When you hear of young women having botox in their 20s – according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, botox procedures have increased 28 percent since 2010 amongst 20 to 29-year-olds – it’s refreshing to hear that attitudes to ageing are quite different as we get past 50. And we’re tired of being told we have to fight it.

The report continues: “Anti-ageing rhetoric of the beauty industry has long dealt in metaphors of the battlefield. Brands talk of ‘fighting’ age and the ‘war on wrinkles’. Women are encouraged to resist the signs of ageing in a fight that must be won at all costs. Throughout their lives, women are taught that youthfulness is the ultimate attribute of beauty. Even in their twenties and thirties, faces become problematic, presenting issues to be corrected and solved. Yet a majority of Elastic women who use beauty products (68%) reject this aspiration saying they just want to feel and look their best, rather than look younger. They are cynical about products which claim to be able to restore youth too”.

Well hallelujah. But that doesn’t mean the ‘mature’ woman doesn’t care how she’s represented. I look forward to the advertising industry, clothing brands and large parts of the media recognising that ‘over 50’ is not a homogenous greying group, nor a bunch of inane looking women laughing endearingly in pastels or ruefully enduring their wrinkles.

Words: Marina Gask
Survey by the Fashion Retail Academy.
The Elastic Generation report thanks to J Walter Thompson.