In case you missed it, I’m turning 25 soon and it’s sparked quite a lot of reflection in me. I’ve been thinking a lot about the past 25 years, and the next few years to come; about the process of ageing and living. And I’m starting to feel a little more attacked by the beauty industry. I read yesterday that we look our best from the age of 19 until we turn 26. It’s all down hill from there, apparently. So I’ve started to work hard on smiling a lot in order to welcome in ‘nice wrinkles’ when the time comes. But really, I’m not sure the beauty industry is right, and I’m also kind of ticked off that I’m on my way to being gobbled up by an industry that just wants my money.
Case in point: I heard someone talking about yet another miracle product the other day that would help to “fight the signs of ageing”. And it hit me…since when was something like ageing something to fight?
Is aging not one of the most natural elements in a human life? We ALL age. It is normal. No one does not. It’s just the way life goes. We are not Benjamin Button. From the day we are born, we age. So why now are we trying to fight this?
Not even fight this, actually, no – we try to fight the signs of it. At what appears to be at a superficial level. But as though it was some deep dark secret not to be shared with the world. A shame, a guilt. Something to spend more time and money on that on our dreams, the people around us, our careers, our interests.
It also freaks me out that I am apparently supposed to look like a 7 year old because that is what is attractive or sexy. We are obsessed with young, plump, perfect skin. Full lips and big eyes, of baby-like proportions shout “this is what you should be!” in make-up adverts. Skinny, child-like limbs march down the catwalks at us suggesting curves are abnormal. I have been a child. And now I am not a child. And so whatever the cosmetic companies, marketing experts and evolutionary theorists may say, I think I’d rather look like a 24 year old. The childification of beauty does women no favours; and it endangers children who are robbed of their childhood.
And if at 24, when I am still ‘in my prime’ and at the age Hollywood portrays as the perfect age of a girl for married men to flirt with, I am feeling the pressure to look younger, what lies ahead of me?
I’m angry about all of this because I don’t want my mum, who is beautiful and leads a productive, full, ambitious life to have to spend time thinking about how to erase the proof that her time on earth so far has been busy. I’m angry because I also have better things to worry about. I’m angry because I don’t want my future daughter to be iconised and bottled into what women much older than her should aim to look like.
I am not going to fight off the signs of the years that I lived as though they had not happened.
I am ageing. I am today one day older than I was yesterday. One day, I will die – having aged considerably since the day I was born. I’m OK with that.