Friday, 28 May 2010

Can't we all just age gracefully?


I have a confession to make. I am 30 – and I am probably more comfortable with my appearance now than I was when I was 21. It’s not that I’m particularly narcissistic, but, bearing in mind I weigh six stone less than I did when I was 18, I actually think that, like a fine wine or a chunk of Stilton, I have improved with age.

However, whenever I turn on the telly or open a magazine, I am reminded that getting older is a bad thing. Whereas 10 years ago the focus was well and truly on a woman’s weight, it seems to be that the natural ageing process is the new enemy we women are forced to wage war upon. Ageing is the new fat. Adverts for skin creams promise us that they can delay the ageing process, protecting our skin from free radicals, shielding us from harmful UVA and UVB rays, and even reduce the appearance of the lines we have been unable to prevent through careless laughter and frowning.

The average woman who, like me, indulges in the odd glossy and usually relaxes in front of the box for at least an hour or two a day is probably exposed to advertisements for such products for longer than the length of an episode of EastEnders. And, like anyone facing an onslaught of propaganda, she probably starts to believe it. Yes, ageing is bad. The appearance of wrinkles will signify the end of your life. You must stand up to nature and fight it to the death – literally.

Then of course there is the cost involved. These lotions and potions don’t come cheap. Staying youthful costs. When doing the weekly shop, it dismays me to see how much more money I spend on toiletries than my other half does. While he can get away with a can of Lynx and a cheapo moisturiser, I have to cleanse, tone and moisturise, not to mention invest in spot cream for the occasional blemish and the obligatory weekly face mask and scrub.

The critics among you will no doubt notice that I used the expression “have to”. Of course I don’t have to spend my hard-earned cash on these things, and, to be fair, I spend a hell of a lot less than a lot of people, opting for cheaper brands rather than your ultra-pricey clinically-proven scientifically-formulated wonder-stuffs for which you can pay through the nose. But I do spend more than my fella. I could boycott skincare and turn to soap in protest – but I dare not. My skin might break out in spots whilst simultaneously crumpling like a screwed-up newspaper. Age spots might appear. My jowls might sink, leaving me with the face of a bulldog. I shudder at the thought of what might happen if I let nature take its course.

“What will it be next? Foetus-soft skin?
Egg-smooth hair?”

Having said that, I have my limits. A bit of magic moisturiser? Yes, please. Plastic surgery? I don’t think so. Botox? Actually, I think I’ll pass on poisoning my face, thank you. But, in a society that values youthful-looking skin more than life itself, my principles could soon be under attack. Not because I think I will cave in under normal circumstances, but because, by the time I am 40, Botox is likely to be the norm. Women who don’t have Botox and choose to stick to the more traditional anti-ageing processes will look old and haggard compared to their nipped and tucked, frozen-faced peers. Even slathering your face in factor 50 every day isn’t going to compete with that.

So, there it is. At 30 I might be getting away with my trusted moisturiser for combination skin with UVA and UVB filters. But by 35? Maybe the pull to freeze my face in time will be too strong to resist as everyone else jumps on board the Botox Bandwagon.

In the meantime, there is hope. Don’t you know that you can now get a foundation that promises to give your skin the appearance of a baby’s? And I’m sure there is a hair dye on the market that will colour your hair baby blonde. Ageing? Sod that when I can achieve the youthful vigour of a newborn. What will it be next? Foetus-soft skin? Egg-smooth hair?

Actually I’ll stick to looking my age, thanks all the same. Read more by Shelly.