Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Anti-Age Debate

          To age or not to age is not the question. The question, or rather the challenge, is how do we accomplish the inevitable with grace, charm and yes, beauty.

           On my "inspiration board" (not too pretentious, n'est-ce pas?) above my computer is a page torn out of MORE magazine that says: The Look Good for Your Age Movement.  I think that's what our goal should be and I believe I see this movement in action every day with French women. I'm not sure they would articulate it with that formula because I find the issue does not seem to be an obsession with them.
          I'm addressing the subject because I've been told recently by people I respect and probably know what they're talking about, that the mere word AGE has become loathsome, abhorrent to women. Apparently we can deal with it when it's hyphenated as in "anti-age" on a label for something that promises us miracles to hold back the clock. We also have nothing against the annual magazine articles where the cover splashes in proud, bold type The Age Issue.

          I'm not sure though, since no one has told me, how we feel about the yearly "aberration" wherein the elite fashion mags tout the shape issue wherein women are allowed to be a size 14 instead of the usual size 0. But, that's not my preoccupation at the moment.

           Age is what's on my mind and I was wondering what you think about the very mention of the word. Should we skirt around it, allude to it, hint at it? Are we that afraid of the facade our futures hold?

          Let's be honest, I'm not thrilled with the march of time across my face and over my hips, and I'm fighting the good fight on the cosmetic/care/healthy eating front and in some respects I've been lucky in the gene pool, so I see no other alternative than trying to look the best I can for my age.

          My feeling about needles, nips and tucks is that if a woman feels happier about herself then good for her, but I also know it's a slippery slope.

          As one of the world's most famous plastic surgeons told me for my book, "the absolute best facial exercise is a smile; it's an instant facelift." Have you ever noticed that one almost never sees a picture of Ines de la Fressange without a smile?


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid of most procedures involving needles and lasers. They might make you look better in the short term, but the jury's still out -- WAY OUT -- on how the skin performs 10, 20, 30 years after the procedures. Why take your chances and be someone else's guinea pig?

I think we're best off to eat well, get some exercise every day, tend to our complexion with moisture and sunscreen, drink water and herbal teas, get a decent night's sleep more often than not, and do our best to be emotionally resiliant and enjoy life's small pleasures. Those are the things that really show up on the face and make it pretty.

xoxoxo --

Chicatanyage said...

My personal goal is to be comfortable in myself. I think that if you allow your inner self to shine through you can continue to be radiant at any age. I see quite a few women with what I would call "strange" faces. i prefer the smile route.
I do now spend more money on skincare and attend a skin clinic every six weeks as much to protect my skin as to turn back the clock. Although i am having some success with those pesky "sun spots".
Focusing out on others rather than in on ourselves makes us more attractive in my book.

Déjà Pseu said...

Here in LA, one frequently sees women who have had obvious "work done" and many of them just look bizarre. I did IPL laser once to zap some melasma and was happy with it, but don't know if I'll repeat.

I'm on the side of minimal intervention, healthy habits (including lots of sunscreen), keeping an open and curious mind and staying active and engaged with life. Oh, and some chocolate now and then.

"Age" doesn't bother me, and sure beats the alternative!

Charlotte Babb said...

I love what you have to say, and I'm all about being the real me after all these decades (six) of trying to find some way to pass as normal.

no needles, no dye, no spandex, just real, solid woman.

But one question:

Why do you make this blog very hard to subscribe to. Where's the signup box?

Expat mum said...

Been reading your blog for ages and have never left a comment, which is surprising when you know me.
Anyway - living in the USA, it's all about looking much, much younger than you really are. The phrase "looking good for your age" still has undertones of looking younger than you really are. Some people I know get work done before they need it, - so that it won't look obvious later. It does.
I am relying on my English rose complexion at the moment, which seems to be the envy of my American friends. It's all a march against time though isn't it?

Katherine said...

AGE - can be a positive word. Easy for me to say at present, people always say to me that they cannot believe my age ... as in, you look younger than the number. Age is a fickle little word, today it may be in my favour but you do not know what tomorrow will bring.
I'm open to the idea of some 'helpers' - like fillers, covering the grey, potions to reduce age spots. But that is where I would stop.

I recently gave my father-in-law a birthday card for his 90th that read - 'if you didn't know your age, how old would you be?' Words to live by.

Caryl said...

This--both the issue and the rhetoric is something I have thought about but lately,
given the state of our universe, I think it's a first
world or-- if you prefer luxury--problem. At
the moment, I am not thinking about it. When or if I
can again, I hope I remember how lucky I am
to have age as a subject of concern.

Caryl said...

Oh--and one more thing--can we call a moratorium on pictures of Ines this year as an example of successful aging, dressing, whatever. First of all, she doesn't
look her age, second of all, she must have amazing genes which is not a solution for any of your readers.
There are plenty examples of women smiling. I just
feel there is some dishonesty or at the very least
myth making by continually hauling out this beautiful
(yes French) woman. If we want to advance this
discussion, let's unvarnish the truth.

Villette said...

I think 'to look good for your age' is not quite right. The aim is more simple than that: to look good. The rest will follow.

Virginia said...

In 2009 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I spent the a year ridding my body of that horror. Now, I am blessed with a completely different outlook on age. Every birthday is a triumphant celebration. Every line and sag are visible evidence that I am alive. The words "getting older" to me mean "you beat cancer." I am 51 and age is my friend.

Anonymous said...

As a member of the "80%" who are living on a limited budget, spending on age treatments would not be an option even if I wanted it. I try to look my best and take pride in my appearance. Aging is not the enemy.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I have recently pondered the existence of my blog and decided that what I am about is "joyfully ageing". It is inevitable and any magazine which says it is not is just not honest. I believe we can go through each day of our lives with joy and a smile no matter what chaos is surrounding us. Everyone looks more beautiful with a are so right. This is my inspire women to find joy one day at a time!! Age and wisdom are our friends! Well done, Tish!

Lorrie Orr said...

I'm all for aging well, with minimal intervention. I hate the thought of needles and surgery and have seen some awful results. Perhaps one key to aging well is gracious acceptance of the inevitable. Smiling at the future instead of dreading it.

I love seeing pictures of Ines on your blog. A truly beautiful woman who illustrates much of your philosophy, Tish.

Deb said...

Let's also hear it for Judy Dench. She's just beautiful and she looks her age in grand style. She sports some gorgeous gray hair, wrinkles and a body size in the double digits and looks beautiful.
I agree that looking our best is far diferent than looking young. I personally find it slightly creepy to see a woman desperately clinging to decades past. I saw a TV commercial with Debbie Boone - she's apparently in her 70s and looks several decades younger. It just seems sad somehow.
I am inspired to see women who embrace their age gracefully looking lovely - not 30, just lovely.

Anonymous said...

Just an fyi, for Deb: Debby Boone is 56.
Great topic Tish. Interesting comments too! jac

Anonymous said...

I believe in taking care of yourself through a healthy diet, exercise, and nutritional supplements. How ever I do work at a company where evryone is younger than me, so to be competitive I do color my hair...and i like the way it looks. I've been doing botox for my migraines, and it is nice to have an unfurled forhead, however not sure I'll continue with it since it is not very effective as a preventative for me.

Anonymous said...

I think to answer your question, we should diligently use the word age and use it in a positive way so that we banish the ridiculous, shallow, vapid fear of aging. If women were not constantly manipulated to feel they must be younger and younger still, they would be free to experience age as the very positive gift that it is! Do we really want to expend the wisdom that goes w/age on such a shallow endeavor?

catherine said...

Im totally against it...aging that is....unfortunately, its inevitable so im trying to handle it gracefully and not worry about it. After all, everybody does it.

That's Not My Age said...

I think it was Coco Chanel that said 'There's nothing more ageing than trying desperately to look young.'

That's Not My Age said...

Oh and Happy New Year!

Sue - Over 60 and Over Here! said...

I wrote a post on my own blog in July called: "My best anti-ageing tip ever", which proved very popular: I wonder why! My tip was, of course, to smile. Smile lines are far more attractive than frown lines and a mouth that droops downwards. One of my favourite actresses is Meryl Streep who said she wouldn't go for cosmetic surgery because, as an actress, she needed her face to be able to express emotions. I'm 65 and grateful to be alive and healthy - looking younger than my age is a bonus, but not a necessity.

BigLittleWolf said...

We use "old" and "aging" and even "you look good for your age" implicitly meaning that old and aging are bad.

That's the rub.

Ever note that in American films of the past 20 years you rarely see anyone over 45, even in a workplace scene unless the movie is specifically about the "middle aged" or "older" situation?

Whatever happened to scenes in restaurants and clubs (as in 40s and 50s and 60s films) in which we see men and women "of a certain age?" And yes, they're still living their lives!

We have gone quite mad in this country with the anti-aging business, and Big Business it is, indeed.

Of course we all wish to be and feel "beautiful" however we define that, but don't we wish to contribute and feel valuable and respected even more? Isn't this about being seen (rather than invisible) - as much as how we're seen?

Personally, this topic ticks me off. (You can tell.) And it does so because we are wasting our precious skills, time, and talents worrying about the inevitable rather than focusing on what we can do with that "inevitable" - including the lessons we learn and the deep understanding of ourselves while being able to move beyond ourselves to assist others - should we choose to not obsess over beauty (or age, or weight).

And thus, I will (if you don't mind) - mention my own little movement (not even a ripple, I realize) - "anti anti-aging" which is about being pro glow, pro living fully, pro living well and in an expansive and generous way.

A huge and important topic.

SE said...

I'm glad you posted about this Tish, and I share some of the frustration with the American anti-aging big business LittleBigWolf mentions. I think it's convinced us to do ANYthing to "look young" which doesn't work and just looks weird. I've quit watching actresses who are puffed and botoxed to the point that they don't look like themselves- it's off putting and creepy and makes me sad for them, so why do it. A producer told me when they try to cast for commercials in LA, they have a hard time finding women over 50- they don't look 50, but they also don't look younger. Just odd.

Also- please keep showing us Ines. Yes, she has good genes- but she also talks about not minding her wrinkles, living fully and with joy, and I think that's the best fountain of youth. And I find her simple style inspirational.

webb said...

Joyful aging is a great idea, as is looking your best without regard to your age, but it is difficult with the media message.

We have a local plastic surgeon who advertises that he makes the city more beautiful "oneface at the time". I really resent that!

You cant stop the clock, but you can live better. A good conversation to start. Thanks, Tish.

Pondside said...

I'm older now than either of my grandmothers lived to be. I look at my mother, who is 86 and think 'what a beauty'. It's about her smile and her comfort with who she is. I'm happier at this age than I was at 25 - happy to take care of my health and my appearance and live in my own, unaltered, skin.

Deb said...

anonymous-thanks for clearing up my error about Ms Boone's age!!

BigLittleWolf - agree that we spend way too much time on how women of a certain age look/ age. better not to focus on the inevitable signs of aging and get on with it. frankly we should be thankful that we wake up each morning, wrinkles be damned!

Karen Albert said...

Tish I think age is such a personal definition for every woman.

For me it is every year becoming better than the last. Yes smiling, being positive, looking for new adventures and experiences.

All the Best in the Year Ahead!
Art by Karena

Awakening my Wardrobe said...

This is a great topic. Eating well, feeling balanced, exercising, especially stretching and swimming and hiking are very important to my "beauty regime". It makes a huge difference in how I look and feel. Sunscreen has been my number one daily anti-aging secret.

I am curious if anyone has any information or experience doing facial exercises or yoga for the facial/chin/neck muscles to firm up the skin?

Maureen said...

Shame about the spam!!

I watched a TV programme called 'Beverly Hills Brides' and most of the women over 30 had had 'work' done - it looked so strange!

One of the assistants in the bridal shop said of one client 'she's had so much botox it is impossible to tell if she likes the dresses.' But for me it is 'the lip' work that is hideous - why do girls and women have it done when they can see the others who look grotesque!

Ah well, as they say, it takes all sorts!

Lost in Provence said...

Ooh, I am glad that I saw this late as I got to read all of the comments! I think that I have mentioned here before that I understand both sides of the coin as there was major, major pressure to get botox on my frown lines when I was acting. I did, it didn't do anything because the muscles were too strong. So no harm done.
But I really did notice such a huge difference between France and the US on my recent trip home. It really, really seems like so many women don't want to be their age but some semblance of 20. Which makes me wonder if they didn't enjoy it enough the first go 'round?

The enchanted home said...

I think this is more of an American phenomenon to be so petrified of age. Instead of embracing it and just being satisfied with being the best we can be, we stay fixated on looking 25 and the ideals are at best unrealistic. I am concerned for the younger generation and the affect this has on them. I am all for personal, spiritual and physical growth.....its highly individual as to what one feels is appropriate in "caring for themselves" as they age, surgery, anti aging products, exercise, diet, me as long as they are happy and feel good about themselves is what counts. I always say age is a number, nothing more..its much more about how you feel. And in my eyes I am 32:)

Mumbai said...

It seems that in our society the word
"anti aging" is used too much. When do aging start? It's a matter of your personal well being and your attitude.
And from a certain age on I'm not against a "little help."Ladies, don't let it get to oneself.

helen tilston said...

Hello Tish

A very Happy New Year and you certainly have us all coming forth with an opinion this morning.

As an artist, who paints portraits and architecture, I feel that plastic surgery and fillers and botox are all very visible and have not been perfected to fool the eye. If one part of the face looks smooth and beautiful once the person smiles or frowns a muscle is restricted and that is when it looks foreign and not in harmony with the rest of the face. Perhaps with time these artificial procedures will improve.
I wonder if Posh Spice (aka V Beckham) is reading this article and if she will start to smile? I do love her pouty look.

Helen xx

Northmoon said...

No one has mentioned the male perspective in this discussion. I think that there is a big part of looking younger that is driven by competition for male attention. Older looking women in North America become invisible to the opposite sex. I've heard it's different in France or European countries and a woman with wrinkles and grey hair can still be considered an object of sexual desire.

Murphy said...

I do think Northmoon is on to something. Lately I feel almost invisible here in the States, even though people who know me give me compliments and think I look younger than I am. But I still look over 40, which seems to be some sort of turning point. When I visit France, though, men often flirt with me, and I had forgotten how nice it is to be noticed!

As for surgery, I am too much of a coward. I try to wear sunscreen, a little makeup, flattering colors and a smile. Other than that , people will have to like me for my personality!

Joni said...

It's all about joyful, healthy aging for me. I'm too apprehensive of invasive and non-invasive procedures to give them a try (and I don't have the money to do it anyway). Eating clean, exercsing, getting a good night's sleep are so important to healthy agin. So is love, kindness, and joy.

BigLittleWolf said...

Like SE, I also love seeing Ines - and the other wonderful examples of French celebs you show, Tish.

But just as much, I loved your series on your readers - showing the richly diverse group of accomplished, loving, and interesting women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s - with their smiles and their lines - that tell the stories of their lives.

Feeling like we look our best becomes more focal when we are treated like invisible citizens, so to simply "discard" the typical maintenance that a woman (or man) might utilize isn't an answer.

But women do tend to take on the facade and mannerisms that we think others want of us. I believe we do so without realizing and sometimes out of a desire to be loved or needed. We lose ourselves.

The good news is, many of us find ourselves again - and it's with a few years under our belts.

We've gone so far afield in American culture, when it comes to a balanced perspective on aging as well as beauty that what we tout seems to have little to do with either. But in the women here who read and share, and in you - I see the best of both.

It's quite inspiring.

hopflower said...

We are all going to get older; indeed, we are getting older by the minute. No one escapes it. It is about being well-dressed, clean, elegant, doing the best with what you have and AGING gracefully. You can still wear makeup and nice clothes and have a great hairstyle, etc. You just will not be twenty anymore. I wonder too how much of the photography we see of people is not somewhat retouched.

When I go to England to see family I am also flirted with; 20 odd miles away from France! It is American men who seem to chase the youth culture; but I find a lot of them immature anyway.

Deborah Flanagan said...

I'm happy I'm around long enough to look in the mirror and see some lines and wrinkles. I don't love them but I am determined to look my best with out going surgically crazy. With a smile and a young heart, I hope others look past the age lines and see the real me, a "live life to the absolute fullest" kind of person.
Happy New Year Tish

Kathy said...

OK - I'm going to say something here that probably won't be popular. French women say a lot of things, like that they don't diet, they don't do any cosmetic procedures, etc. that are in fact not true. It's not a criticism of French women, it's just part of the culture of mystique, which is fine. I agree with Caryl that I'm tired of seeing Ines as "the" example of how to age gracefully.
I think one of the best part of aging, is feeling free to make your own choices, one of which is that you don't have to look your best anymore. I haven't made that decision, but I respect those who have decided that they'd rather concentrate on other things in life - not that they're mutually exclusive, but constant maintenance is very time and money consuming too.
I think we all talk too much about the outward signs of aging, and I wish the dialogue would focus a bit more on the more internal parts of aging, and all the changes in life we have and will experience.

Kimberly said...

Ines de la Fressange smiles because she was a Chanel model and a model for the bust of Marianne, and runs her own business. She walked a catwalk in her 50's. She lives in a country where women do worry about their looks but also seem to be more comfortable in aging skin. She's part of a culture where men never stop flirting and older women know how to look good while still looking their age. She's got a lot to smile about! :)

I agree with BigLittleWolf. I think if American culture had more obvious and positive role models of women who are older (and LOOK it) but who are fulfilled, happy, and engaged, to push back against the plastic-surgery anti-aging popular culture we have now, I'd feel like there was more to smile about, too.

Debbi@SheAccessorizesWell said...

Great post. I have had enough surgeries that were medical necessities. I sure don't want to have any that are not necessary except to look better. I can't afford them anyway.
I am grateful to be alive and be able to age.
As to seeing photos of beautiful women aging gracefully, it is nice, but let's face it, they were beautiful to start with which makes it easier to look good as they age. We shouldn't compare ourselves to anyone else whether it is in looks, size, or age. At least that is my opinion.

Belle de Ville said...

I'm with Kathy on the whole French woman mystique thing. Catherine Deneuve and loads of other well know French women (except the great Bardot) have been having cosmetic surgery for decades.
I swear by my botox and wish that I had started the injections 10 years earlier, and I'm planning on Laser later this year.
But I do agree that healthy habits and a smile are good, and like Virgina wrote, we should all look at each birthday as a gift.

California Girl said...

Trying a new skin regimen. I honestly don't know if it works or I just want to see what I want to see.

An Eye for Detail said...

Well, it would seem I have a slightly different take on all this! Bring on the needles, I say! I've had and tried a few: Botox, Radiesse, Juvederm. All were done in a doctor's office and guess what? I am totally pleased with each one. They are subtle, at best and invisible at worst. The pain is minimal if it exists at all. They make me feel good and that's what it's all about, no?

NotesFromAbroad said...

I would rather look at my face and see "smile" wrinkles than those deep crevices where someone has frowned most of their life.
For some odd reason, my wrinkles and my age are not upsetting to me .. sure I would like to have a really firm and smooth forehead and neck but maybe because Life is still so full of good things, sights and satisfying, I am not as concerned about the wrinkles that I am picking up along the way.
besos, from way down here in Argentina ! C

Lo said...

I have a friend who is over 70. She is very fair skinned and has almost no, I repeat, no wrinkles. What's her secret? First, she has stayed out of the sun and/or covered up her entire life because she burned so easily. Second, sometime around the age of 30 a doctor (a regular GP) told her to do the following morning and night. After washing her face, spread vaseline all over it. Let that soak in for a few minutes. Then take a warm, damp washcloth and wipe the excess off. So simple. So cheap. So good for keeping the moisture in. She has never used any makeup except lipstick. She has never had the money for any fancy creams or lotions or cosmetic work. With all the medical issues I have, I have no fear of aging. It's not aging that I would prefer to avoid at least for awhile. But I do wish someone would have given me the advice she got. It would have saved me so much money and probably a lot of wrinkles, too.

Awakening my Wardrobe said...

My grandmother who was also very fair skinned with a gorgeous, almost wrinkle free complexion also credited her vaseline skin care regime for her flawless skin.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I watched the wonderful documentary on Charlotte Rampling over the weekend. It's called , The Look, and I highly recommend it. At the beginning she is talking to photographer, Peter Lindbergh and he mentions that she hasn't had any plastic surgery.
Rampling cocks her head and asks, "How do you know?"
"Because I recognize you", says Lindbergh.
"Ah, good answer", says Rampling.

Good answer, indeed.

Duchesse said...

Women should own the word 'age', and use it freely. Otherwise it has power over us, and women don't need any more domination.

When people assume looking young is of primary importance to me, I am repelled and disturbed. I want to look healthy and if others find me attractive, great... but I haven't been young for some time and would really like to be recognized as a mature woman, not someone running around trying to recapture a lost youth. (I am 64.)

Duchesse said...

Lo, I have hardly any wrinkles and though it sounds incredible, my aunt had hardly any at 100. (She lived to 102.) It is genetic.

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