GRACE'S MUSINGS: Hashtag no filter

We talk a lot about what midlife looks like here at Studio10. Most of the time, that means how others think we should look at 40, 50, 60 and beyond. There’s so much pressure to appear a certain way – particularly on social media. But what if we could work up the courage to get a bit more real, and at least ditch the filters?

That’s what Charlie’s Angels stars Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz did recently when they shared an unretouched picture of themselves that looked so very real. I love that they’re ageing so gracefully – and unlike a lot of Hollywood actors, aren’t afraid to show it. Who doesn’t love a laughter line or two?

Their followers loved it, too – a bunch of real women just like you and me who sometimes despair at the façade put up on social media. We understand why it happens. Society demands that “attractive” women in midlife have a particular look – which is often that of a 25-year-old. But maybe that’s finally changing. Check out the comments that appeared under Drew and Cameron’s post:   

“I love this: beauty without filters and enhancers. This is what social media needs more of.”

“Gorgeous, love how you’re embracing your age gracefully.”

“Can I just thank you for not over-editing this photo.”

And “I love that you are both so natural, with no Botox and fillers! Ageing naturally is amazing.”

Cameron has already spoken publicly about her experiences with Botox. Her honesty is refreshing: “I’ve tried [Botox] before, where it was like a little tiny touch of something,” she said. “It changed my face in such a weird way that I was, like, ‘No, I don’t want to be like that.’ I’d rather see my face ageing than a face that doesn’t belong to me at all.” 

Drew discussed her feelings about plastic surgery during an episode of The Drew Barrymore Show earlier this year: “I’ve never done anything to my face and I would like to try not to,” she said, but: “Never say never.”

You might have seen the stories in the press in the past few weeks, too, about the 1990s supermodel Linda Evangelista, who said she is now “brutally disfigured” and “unrecognisable” after a body-sculpting procedure that went wrong. “[It] did the opposite of what it promised,” she said. Following the fat-freezing treatment, she suffered from paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), a condition in which you develop firm tissue mass in the areas you’ve had treated.

“PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self-loathing,” she wrote. “In the process, I have become a recluse.” 

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that cosmetic procedures are bad. Far from it – those of you who read my columns regularly will know that I’m all for dealing with your own face and body in the way you see fit, particularly when it comes to ageing. But how very sad that, in attempting to respond to pressure from society to look a certain way, Linda Evangelista has had such a terrible time. 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about whether all those famous fabulous fiftysomethings out there are setting the bar too high for the rest of us. And it’s all part of the same issue. J.Lo, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Naomi Campbell all look incredible, with their glowing complexions, plump cheeks, shiny hair and gym-honed bodies. But is that degree of gloss attainable for all of us? And isn’t that what we’re buying into with the whole filters thing?

These are really tricky questions. Of course I’m delighted that older women are so much more visible and looking so fab: they’re up on the catwalk, fronting beauty campaigns and Insta-ing the heck out of it. But can the rest of us keep up? And in attempting to do so, are we just feeding into the loop? Do we, in fact, need role models who look a bit more like the rest of us?

That’s why Cameron and Drew posting #nofilter shots is so fabulous. It’s why Paulina Porizkova posing naked and publishing the images unretouched on her Insta feed is brilliant. It’s telling us that it’s OK not to look like a 25-year-old when we’re 50. Our skin and hair and bodies are not the same as those of our daughters. But we should celebrate our beauty nonetheless, in all its glorious midlife authenticity. 

Let’s stand up for what we believe in. Let’s reject that societal pressure to age in a particular way. And let’s post the hell out of those #nofilter shots. I look forward to seeing them.

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