Sunday, 10 June 2012

Anti anti-ageing

Preposition: Opposed to; against.

I've realised recently that more and more of the 'magic potions' in my bathroom cabinet contain the words "anti-ageing" or similar.  A quick look recently revealed this:
(from left: Covergirl/Olay"Simply Ageless" serum primer, Lacura (Aldi home brand) "Total Care Seven" anti-ageing cream, Olay Total Effects "7-in-1 anti-ageing eye cream", and Lacura (Aldi again), SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen with "anti ageing" written across the bottom)

Now what does that say about me? (other than that I'm a cheap-arse who buys her moisturiser and sunscreen from Aldi. I know, okay? Shut up). When I think about it, I start to think it screams "I'm scared! Stop this happening!". Am I?

I don't know how or when this happened, clearly it snuck up on me. At some point though I made a subliminal decision to stop using 'ordinary' products and to throw my money at the lucrative 'anti-ageing' industry. When did that happen? More to the point, why?

Because women aren't shamed nearly enough about themselves are they? From the hair issue (pubic hair!) to the airbrushing of labia in porn, to the steadfast refusal to ever show blood when advertising menstrual products (but hey, if you've got a problem with blue water around your place, grab yourself a pad and you'll be right), to the constant obsession with weight, hair and skin.  Every step of the way we're made to feel we're not enough, that something is 'wrong' that needs to be 'fixed' (or ignored totally), so we can attain some ideal of perfection.  And underneath the message is loud and clear: DON'T GET OLD.  But whose ideal is this? I don't think it's mine.

Older women used to be mostly ignored. To a large extent we still are (hello fashion industry!) but the cosmetics industry has had us in its sights for some time now and with our ageing population, we're a huge market and the industry's going after the last great crime the modern woman can commit. Getting older. How very dare we?

Reading The Herald-Sun today (okay, in my defence, I buy the Sunday papers for the magazines okay? I do not support the Murdochratisation of our media any more than you do) I saw this in the Fashion section:

Written by a bloke, too. Irony rich enough for Gina Rinehart to mine.

But you know what? I'm not anti ageing.  In fact I'm all for ageing. Because it beats the hell out of the alternative. I never wanted to 'die young and leave a good looking corpse" - what a piece of bullshit advice that was! What idiot said that? And are they dead yet?

Anti means against and I'm not against ageing. Every turn of the sun I celebrate my birthday means I've had the privilege of being here another year. And it's wonderful. I'm incredibly lucky and I hope to twirl around the annual dancefloor many more times before I fall off the twig.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for looking after yourself - I've been moisturising since I was 12 and my darling Grandma (my great grandmother, who had gorgeous skin right into her 90s) told me what the pink stuff in the bottle was for (remember the original Oil of Ulan?) and there's barely been a day since when I haven't moisturised.  I added eye cream maybe 10-12 years ago.  A combination of that and lucky genetics means my skin is in pretty good nick for nearly 49 but I'm not obsessed by it.

I remember seeing the original version of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and being blown away at the obviously natural mature beauty of several of the actresses. These women were not Botoxed or facelifted into masks, they had real skin and faces which clearly showed they were not 25.  But I was saddened that I even noticed it.  It was obvious the film was made in Europe and not in the US. They seem to have a more realistic attitude towards ageing than the US (and thus, Australia) has.

Lena Endre is 55 and looks it. And isn't she beautiful? She was perfectly cast as Kalle Blomkvist's lover.

Contrast her to Olivia Newton-John, 63, a once naturally beautiful woman who apparently decided she wasn't good enough and now looks rather scarily like this:

Is it just me or is there a bit of a glimpse of Jocelyn Wildenstein peeking through the Botox there, Livvy? Be careful!

I think it's time to rebrand the 'anti-ageing' industry.  Surely the clever dicks at the advertising agencies can come up with something with a positive spin? Stop carrying on like getting older is something to be feared.

Because if we agree that target marketing to us "women of a certain age" as anti-ageing is okay, then we're basically saying we don't want to get older, we don't like it, and fear it and thus we become complicit in the push to make it something bad.  And I don't know about you, but I definitely intend to age. And enjoy it.

And I refuse to be shamed for it.