To tweak or not to tweak – that is the question. And it’s one I’m asked a lot. Does “growing old gracefully” mean embracing the natural ageing process, wrinkles and all, or is there room for us to do Botox, fillers, even surgery, without accusations of selling out – a complaint I hear a lot from the young women around me?
For me – and for lots of women – it’s about personal choice. I strongly believe that there’s no right or wrong way to age. Just do what feels right for you. Celebrating your age is about striding into your mature years with confidence and a positive sense of who you are – and if that means dyeing your hair, wearing make-up or doing fillers, then go right ahead.
Clearly, there’s a wider debate here. For the Studio10 tribe, the PRO AGE movement is about more than just how we look – it’s part of the bigger picture that women in midlife find themselves painted into. It’s up to us to push back against the idea that, in today’s society, only youth can be beautiful, current and valuable. But how best to do that?
Transparency is important. I was lucky enough to be offered a thread lift recently. It’s not something I would normally be able to afford. I was concerned about the emotions around it, as well as the politics and the practicalities – how it would make me feel as a PRO AGE campaigner. I thought long and hard about it – and I said yes to the procedure. When the swelling went down, I could see a difference. My jawline was tighter. That made me happy. Do I need to beat myself up about that?
We don’t live in an ageless society. We still have to play the game. So you do what’s right for you. We’re not here to judge. Yet often, we women do this hypocritical dance. We get censorious when others – celebs or civilians – are perceived to have had “work done”. We criticise – while having those same tweakments ourselves. Maybe a bit more honesty would lay some of the stigma to rest.
Look at Demi Moore. When she strode down the Fendi catwalk a few weeks ago, it wasn’t so much the brand’s decision to cast an older model in its show that was the talking point, it was the fact that her face looked “different” – and unrepresentative of the age group to which she belongs.
How does that make other women react? It’s a huge part of the problem. Often in midlife, we feel inadequate than bold, beautiful and self-assured. Seeing a 58-year-old superstar who not only looks 20 years younger, but also appears markedly different from her “usual” self, doesn’t help.
Working from home has added to those feelings: we’ve found it hard to stare at our faces hour after hour on Zoom, and there was lots of talk about a privileged few rushing to get Botox and fillers after the first lockdown. Which made other women angry. Shoring up our looks via artificial means is often seen as inauthentic, dishonest and somehow cheating. But it’s an issue that gets us talking.
There are lots of factors to consider. We’re not all functioning on a level playing field. Some of us are way more privileged than others, financially and socially. We have more choices available to us. Others don’t feel the need to “interfere” with the ageing process. But the bottom line is this: society sees midlife women as being past their prime. Ageism exists. And how we choose to react to it is different for each of us.
We must be allowed to age on our own terms – without judgment from others. My feeling is, you do what’s right for you. And you talk about it. Join the conversation about ageing. Contribute to our PRO AGE debate. We all have our own views and we need to air them. That’s the way to achieve change.