Remember The Golden Girls, that 1980s TV show about four midlife women sharing a house in Miami? Some of those “girls” were only in their fifties when that series started. Now I know fashion back then did no one any favours, but seriously…? In their fifties? That was one end of the spectrum.
Now consider your averagely fabulous fiftysomething today: J.Lo, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Naomi Campbell. They look incredible, with their glowing complexions, plump cheeks, shiny hair and gym-honed bodies. But has the pendulum swung too far the other way? Is that degree of gloss attainable for all of us? Or is the trend for super-youthful 50-year-olds raising the bar just too high?
It’s a difficult question – and I’m not saying the shift in culture surrounding how we view older women hasn’t been welcome. Even five years ago, we were still sidelining women over 50: now they’re up on the catwalk, fronting beauty campaigns and influencing whole generations with their Insta fabulousness. And I salute them. I really do. But can the rest of us mere mortals keep up with those ultra-dewy fiftysomethings? And in doing so, are we contributing to yet another negative cycle of unattainable beauty? Do we, in fact, need role models who look just a tiny bit more like the rest of us?
I’m all for doing your bit to look as good as possible, whatever your age. And I’ve tried so many of those trends and treatments that we in the beauty and wellness industry are forever telling you about. I’ve done green juices and powders and no carbs and low carbs; I’ve lifted weights, practised yoga, run for miles and knackered my knees; I’ve tweaked and lifted and frozen various bits of my face. But maybe now is the time to stop and ask myself: why?
In pushing the boundaries, we might be redefining what 50 looks like, but are we putting new kinds of pressure on ourselves – the necessity to look 10 years younger at any cost – and, in the process, setting ourselves up for a whole new cycle of invisibility and low self-esteem?
It’s something the beauty industry is actually taking seriously – particularly in the light of the pandemic, where we’ve all had to address some pretty serious questions about our mortality (check out Avon’s report online on the subject, The Future of Beauty in a Post-Pandemic World).
There’s been a backlash against the idea that we all want to look 10 years younger, and other brands are finally coming round to the views that we at Studio10 have long held. We’re not trying to turn back time, or push lotions and potions that are “anti-ageing” or “anti-wrinkle”. We’re seeking to give you products that work for your specific needs, whatever your age.
Personally, I want beautiful, resilient skin that’s authentic to me. I don’t want to look frozen in time, or like a copycat clone of one of my favourite stars. What’s the point of looking good if I no longer look like myself?
I want to age authentically, while still looking great. Not great “for my age”, just great, full stop. And that means embracing my fine lines and wrinkles, and possibly my grey hairs (I’m not quite there yet!). It also means not having unrealistic expectations about what 50 looks like.
There are no magic solutions when it comes to ageing (at least, none that leave you looking like yourself). I loved beauty editor Annabel Jones’s inspirational piece in The Telegraph recently. Her top three bits of advice for ageing authentically in a post-Covid world, whether you’re 30 or 70? 1) Balance your skin’s microbiome; 2) Embrace and enhance your natural hair colour; and 3) Switch to collagen-banking treatments. You can read more here.
But her conclusion echoes my sentiments exactly: “Looking and feeling your best requires the same formula at 47 as it does at 27. Treat your mind and body well 80% of the time; figure out what suits your hair, skin, body and personality type; focus on the foundations: healthy teeth, skin and hair; then experiment outside of the box once in a while. And be you. Always.”