When was the last time you saw an advert selling a pro-ageing face-cream? Even though ageing is the most natural part of life, we live in a world that is aggressively anti-ageing. In fact, “anti-ageing” has become an entire industry dedicated to promote, sell and obsess over how young you look.
It’s natural to want to look healthy, radiant and attractive, but the beauty-industry has created unhealthy obsessions amongst women: young people obsessing over every wrinkle, and older people feeling marginalized and cast out.
In the last few years, a new generation of influencers and voices have come onto the scene: women over 60 who are fighting back to make ageing dignified again.
Beauty: wear your age gracefully.
“Wearing make-up, for me, is about feeling able to face the day, not about looking younger.”
Tricia Cusden is a 70 year old beauty vlogger, who is breaking new ground in the industry. Instead of masking her age, or trying to look younger, she is giving tips to older women, on how to look their best. After a series of very successful beauty-videos, she has also launched her own range of make-up: specifically aimed at older women, called Look Fabulous Forever.
And she’s not the only one. Other women, like Melissa Gilbert, 63, Nichole Grice, 55, and Park Mak-rye, 72 are leading the way in showing off their age. Because why should you hide all those precious years you lived on this earth?
It’s time we show the world that age is not just a number – it’s a badge of honour.
Health: Love your body – as it changes
Menopause. It’s been a swear-word in many circles, and something that makes many women feel like they are at war with their own bodies. Hillary McBride, body-image expert, did her PhD where she interviewed women who felt really good during their menopause. She wanted to discover what the secret was to embracing your ageing body, rather than feeling a victim of it. In her interviews, she discovered a key approach these women take to feel more comfortable in themselves, and free from society’s pressures:
Practicing non-judgmental embodiment:
Embodiment is simply the practice of feeling and accepting your body. Noticing the aches and pains, and accepting them. Noticing the feeling of temperature, warmth, pressure, and accepting it. Bring your attention to how your skin looks, feels and smells, and accepting it. By cultivating this connection with our bodies, women can become more in touch with how their bodies change, but also feel less judgmental about themselves.
As part of this, it’s also important to catch yourself getting swept up in society’s pressures. The media is filled with images and messaging that make women feel worse about themselves. Instead of consuming beauty-magazines and listening to the voices of the anti-ageing culture, why not follow the voices of dignified women of age? Cultivate an self-image based on wise older women, rather than measuring yourself against photoshopped magazine covers.
For as we age, we need to embrace not just how we look different, but also how we feel different. Otherwise, we are simply fighting ourselves and society.
Death : facing the inevitable with dignity
In his book, Staring At The Sun, Dr. Irvin Yalom, existential psychiatrist, shows us that at the heart of most of our anxiety, is our fear of death. And, as women age, we are confronted with more and more death of those around us.
Most of us don’t think about death until we are faced with it. It’s often only with a terminal illness like Cancer, when we are woken up to ‘face the music’. But we can all choose to look at this dark side of life, and, with the help of a counsellor or therapist, work through the fear so we can live our lives more fully.
According to Dr Yalom, we can experience and appreciate the beauty of life more deeply, if we learn to confront our own mortality. When we face the reality that our lives will come to an end, and we work through the fear, pain and sadness that can bring up, the process may inspire us to rearrange our priorities, to focus on relationships and to pay attention to the beauty of everyday moments.
Role-model dignified ageing
Most of society is fighting against ageing and death. But you don’t need to be part of that voice. Instead, claim back the dignity of your own life-experience, memories and discoveries. Stand up for the gift of ageing, and offer the youth the support they need – for they too, like you, will become old one day. And who better to prepare them for it, than you?
How ‘old’ is old?
There is an entire industry dedicated to making you believe that youth tend all to be happy and healthy, while the elderly tend to be sad and sick. Unfortunately, myths like these can inhibit people, of any age, from staying connected and pursuing what is meaningful to them. Here are some good ideas of how you can embrace your age, at any age