Well, all of the hand clap emojis for Allure Magazine who have banned the term ‘anti-ageing’. Helen Mirren is on the cover (hopefully forgiven by L’Oreal for saying that her beauty cream probably does nothing but she likes it anyway).
It’s important that one of America’s best-selling women’s magazines is taking that stance – that youth isn’t the only indicator for beauty and treating age as something that needs ‘curing’ is pointlessly demoralizing for anyone over 30. Beauty is not one thing, it is many things and it’s only the beauty industry that tells us we lose it in steady increments the older we get. We are bracing ourselves for that loss from such a young age because we are consistently told that holding onto beauty requires looking younger than we really are.
I’ve trained myself out of talking about ‘wrinkles’ and ‘crow’s feet’ and talking about ‘looking good for her age’ type comments. But I had to consciously do it – working in the beauty industry surrounded by products that exist only to cure the appearance of age – it’s not easy to resist the trap of ‘looking younger’. I rate products on their ability to give smoothness, radiance and vitality to skin – at any age. Because every age skin can have those qualities and look vibrant and healthy and that’s without going into the importance of self-care and enjoying looking after your body as a whole.
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I don’t judge on how you tend to your face when it comes to Botox or fillers – I’ve had them myself and don’t rule them out in the future although it’s been a while. Those treatments are a lifestyle choice – often much more about not looking tired and cross although I’ve worked out if you smile more you actually do your own Botox in a way. It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it and being less judgemental across the board is the bigger story. A significant part of the anti-ageing problem is how we asses each other.
Mainly though, how you determine your own beauty and that of others comes from how you’ve been conditioned to view it. We have all been told that ageing is bad, looking young is good, so it’s no wonder it’s so hard to see things any differently. But it’s possible. We have to do the work and by that I mean change our terminology, our outlook on the visual effects of ageing and championing each other. You would never want someone telling your mum or your friends that they look worn, old and unattractive so why do we let beauty brands do it? And why do we do it to ourselves? If we don’t change the way we perceive beauty, then we’re passing on a legacy that will have our daughters and all other younger women loathing their faces in later life.
I’d like to eradicate the term anti-ageing for good as Allure has done. I’d like to see beauty brands celebrating beauty at all times of life and I’d like to see ‘experts’ focus on skin health and comfort above all other things. You can give yourself all the soft focus filters in the world but you cannot obliterate real life.
Taking on the beauty industry and challenging their messaging is something I’ve done for a long time – it doesn’t make me the most popular person but it does make me a thorn in their side: a constant niggle. And I can be very thorny and niggly. I feel it on behalf of the women who write to me, defeated and exhausted by not being able to live up to ideals. I feel it for anyone who is diminished by their age or feels apologetic for those hard earned smile lines and I feel it for a whole section of society who have been brought up to feel visually less appealing for showing the rigours and blessings of living life. But, I also feel angry that we accept so readily that we’re just not good enough after a certain time. We’re not food – we don’t go off or have a sell by.
Almost every product I touch has an ‘anti-ageing’ message somewhere – and I remove it when I write about it every single time. A lipstick doesn’t need to be anti-ageing: it needs to be beautiful, hydrating and kind to your skin and most of all it needs to be the thing that makes you smile in your day and brings you some joy. Those are the messages that all women or men can relate to, surely, and none of those are age relevant.
I’ve recently taken part in a L’Oreal True Match campaign for a second time – I’m easily the oldest women in that campaign – I think by about 20 years and not least because there aren’t that many content creators to choose from in my age category. It’s not easy to do, and of course I’ve taken some flack over it in terms of indirect comments, but my point is that the more women of my age are included in cosmetic campaigns, the faster it will become the norm and not the unusual or comment worthy. Which is why I’m glad to do it, despite having to really brace myself and glad that the brand has the foresight to be inclusive.
For anti-ageing to disappear as an acceptable term (try using it out of the beauty context – are you anti-ageing when it comes to the needs of your parents, your friends or your grandparents?) it takes more than just a few voices. Beauty brands go where the money is – every single time! We just need to keep telling them to stop reducing us to skin. We’re more than that and better than that. Each time we bypass an ‘anti-ageing’ product in favour of a radiance or skin vitality product, a till somewhere cries. It’s only when those tills are openly weeping that they will listen.
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