|© Andy Gotts MBE 2014 - reproduced by kind permission|
I’ve posted previously about being a big woman and how much my creativity with make-up and fashion helps me feel confident and ready for the world. Recently, though I’ve been battling some other demon. I’m really starting to feel my age in my face. Those of you who know me or have seen pictures are probably thinking I need a slap about now, but hear me out. I’ve been blessed with high cheekbones, thanks to my mum. But as a result, as I’ve got older, my under eye shadows have become more pronounced and I’m often frustrated when applying eye-make-up. I want a crisp clean look, or a smudgy rock chick eye and all I can see is shadows.
Over the last year or so, I’ve tried every concealer and technique known to man, but nothing seems to work. Even high coverage products have made it look worse. So recently, I’ve started thinking about whether I would ever get fillers in this area as I’ve heard they can help. I’m worried about starting something I can’t finish, psychologically and financially, even though I know the vast majority of people who have these kinds of procedures have just one issue dealt with. Plus, I’m a feminist and part of me feels uncomfortable about the ubiquity of surgery, botox and fillers. I do understand however, why people get these things done. We live in a world terrified of ageing. And especially terrified of old women.
Without really thinking about it too deeply, I’d started scouring the media for women my age who haven’t had work either surgical or non-surgical, but all I see are smooth foreheads and bag free faces. I’m not sure whether it’s brilliant make-up or good lighting or just my current perception, but more and more women seem ‘done’. I’m not talking about the scary waxy immovable faces, or the recent Renee Zellweger brouhaha, but those subtle changes you don’t notice until you think about it specifically. I feel like we’ve forgotten how to age, how to appreciate looking good as a forty, fifty or sixty year old without trying to look thirty or younger. Where are the imperfect and irrepressible femme fatales wearing a kimono and burgundy lipstick, clutching a martini glass and fidgeting with a long cigarette holder? Where is the fun of getting older and having the gravitas to own a thoroughly eccentric or grown-up look?
More importantly, how can we fight the insecurities we all have as we get older if it starts to become accepted that you will have work done? I’m a problem solver, I get it, I love finding the right product or technique. I dip into online discussions and forums with a shopping list at the ready, looking for the latest serum or base that will make me look amazing. It seems, though, that at the very least, non-surgical fixes like botox and fillers will soon become the norm for both men and women as they get older. Perhaps we’re going to have to be brave not to join the club when confronted with an army of smooth foreheads in our workplaces. Perhaps I perceive it this way because I’m interested in film and beauty, which are off the charts pressurised in this respect. I try not to judge, I think if I was under that constant scrutiny I may have buckled early and often. But where do we draw the line?
I’m asking a lot of questions, probably because I’m as confused as most people are about this issue right now. I guess I respect people’s freedom to have these treatments and personally understand the insecurities and frustrations that lead to those choices. But I feel like I’ve forgotten what an untrammelled face looks like. I cling to the beautiful pictures of the Lauren Bacall or Katharine Hepburn in their forties, fifties and sixties as though they’re holy cards, praying they’ll give me the strength to resist.
Maybe in the end, what we need is a little honesty. Let’s all get our cards on the table. Only one person I know has admitted to having anything done and I suspect she’s not the only one. How do you feel about this? Would it be a better all-round if people in the public eye were more honest about it, or friends and colleagues spoke about it in the same way they do about having a facial? It could help us know what the realities of ageing are and be more comfortable in our own skins. Lately though, when looking in the mirror, I have to keep reminding myself that no-one cares or notices as much as I do.
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