I’ll always be a work-in-progress. It’s only logical – after all, can you envisage reaching a point where you can say: “I’m officially perfect”? For me, there will always be room for improvement, a need to work on myself – whether that means trying to be kinder, taking better care of my health, or just making time for a manicure every now and again.
I’ve recently turned 56 and – as you’ve probably noticed – birthdays always make me a bit philosophical. So how do I feel on the inside, numbers notwithstanding? In many ways, not that different to how I felt in my thirties and forties: young at heart. I’m certainly proud of everything I’ve achieved with my business. I’m proud, too, of the wisdom I’ve accrued (even if I don’t always feel very wise), the confidence I’ve gained and the PRO AGE philosophy I’ve espoused.
But there’s also something about 56 that just sounds older. It’s made me think hard about my attitude – as well as that of society – to ageing. There’s still so much pressure for us, as women, to look a certain way, and it’s made me reflect – particularly as a PRO AGE campaigner – on the politics, as well as the emotions, around treatments too.
Transparency around this stuff is important. So often we can become judgmental when we think someone has had “work done”, but if we were a bit more honest, it might lay some of the stigma to rest.
So, in full disclosure – I recently had the opportunity to have some work done with renowned Dr Amy Bibby at Harley Street's at Skin Consultancy, and who I interviewed for this month’s In Conversation With ... I wanted to explore what it would mean to mean to me – not so much how it would look, but how it would make me feel.
I’ve had Botox, fillers around my jawline, lips and nose, and a Profhilo treatment, which is “beneath the skin” hyaluronic acid moisturising therapy. It all adds up to a bunch of little tweaks – and the funny thing is, not a single person has noticed.
What were the results? Well for one, I got rid of my angry resting face. My nose is less crooked and my skin is glowing. Overall, I look fresher and less tired, but if you ask how it’s made me feel, I’d be lying if I didn’t say – amazing. In a strange way I feel more me and less invisible. Interestingly, it has been in a professional context that I’ve felt it the most – almost ageless against the subliminal negative age-stereotypes that are so often portrayed in the workplace.
To tweak or not to tweak has always been a big question for us here at Studio10, and I’m constantly challenging my own rhetoric on this stuff. Does altering the way we look mean a lack of self-acceptance when it comes to ageing? I honestly don’t think so. For me, it’s more about how I see myself – and how I want to be seen. Equally, I’m well aware that I’m also feeding into that narrative that we, as women, must look better at any cost.
What does ‘growing old gracefully’ really mean? Is it about embracing the natural ageing process, wrinkles and all, or is there room for us to do Botox, fillers, and even surgery, without feeling like we’re selling out? Even though the intention may not be to make us look younger but, rather, like the very best version of ourselves?
In the end, I can only conclude that how we tackle the aesthetic issues around ageing is a matter of personal choice (though some are obviously more financially privileged than others and so have more options available to them). There’s no right or wrong way to age. That’s one of the principles on which Studio10 was founded. For my own part, I want to be able to age authentically, while still looking great. Not great ‘for my age’, just great, full stop.
So let’s celebrate where we’re at, be confident about who we are – and if that means doing fillers, dyeing our hair or even just wearing make-up, we should go right ahead and do it. The point at which we draw the line is different for each and every one of us. I suspect that most of you, like me, are constantly rethinking your ideas on beauty and ageing, and I applaud that. We must never diminish our value as women – society does that for us all by itself.
Age does not define us. It’s who we are that does. So you do you – whatever that feels like. We’re all just a work-in-progress, after all.