We’ve been talking a lot about age over the last week here at the Studio and one of our most visited topics is that of age and beauty. For me, when I think of age and beauty, I think of the thousands of anti-aging products in the market. It’s rare that a beauty product comes across my desk that doesn’t promise some sort of anti-aging benefit. And by default, almost all of the products in my regimen have one (or more) of those fine line, wrinkle reducing, spot correcting, time erasing ingredients.
I also think that society and popular culture bombardes us with images of youth in association with success, happiness, love. There is a lot of focus on looking young (and with that, thin) and hiding any signs that you’ve lived. Red carpets, runways, editorials and advertisements tend to push the idea that youth equals beauty. In the last few months I think we’ve started to see a bit of a change. Jessica Lange and Charlotte Rampling heading up two major beauty campaigns is hopefully, just the beginning.
Is it really such a terrible thing to get older and to show it? Are we starting to shift the way we view age? I decided to ask a few friends of the blog about this, here is what they had to say…
Costanza Pascolato: “Here in Brazil, it is a very young country, with a new sort of middle class that is very aspirational. The “body” is the new status symbol. This means that women are in search of “eternal youth.” This is achieved, most of the time, very artificially (plastic surgery, treatments, drugs) that are starting to be a huge part of the economy.
I am a lucky person. All women in my family were strong and positive. They taught me to accept aging. But of course, they were intelligent, elegant, and my mother was very beautiful. The new generation follows their examples: my daughter Consuelo is 50 and looks great. And Alessandra is 48 and looks much younger than her age. We all have a sense that life is a privilege. So we treat our bodies (and souls) gracefully. I do a lot of exercise, eat well etc., but I do not try to look much younger than I am. I only want to look the best for my age (74), and that, happily, makes me stay away from anxiety.”
Lauren Bastide: “Of course there is an extreme pressure on women to look as young as possible, a pressure that starts with the image of women in glossy magazines, most of the time embodied by models who are hardly 20 years old. There is, undoubtedly, a confusion in our society between being beautiful and being young. Even philosophically, The beautifulness of experience, matureness, wisdom is not as promoted as the one of daringness craziness and restlessness of youth.
Nevertheless, I have a feeling that a slight wind of change is blowing… We’ve been hearing more and more lately actresses like Cameron Diaz, for example, saying they regret having “done” too much (botox, injections) to their face. I think the excesses the three last decades have created might decrease and we might come back to a more respectful and soft way of encouraging graceful aging.
To me, aging gracefully means staying true to yourself, cultivating your identity, becoming more and more yourself. I admire Lauren Hutton, Jane Fonda, Grace Coddington and Charlotte Rampling, who were of course real beauties when they were younger. Which helps.
In general I tend to think staying slim, taking care of your hair and style and keeping up with your time (staying up to date with music, movies, news and technologies) is a good formula. As for myself, I have an obsession: I want to know what I am really supposed to look like when I get older! I want to become the old woman that nature has planned for me to become. I think I’ll hold on to this thought if some day the appeal of getting something ‘done’ gets to me.”
Greg Armas: “America is a young country and the culture has been youth obsessed until recently. Fashion has now embraced less makeup, less facade and advertising has followed slowly.
Since the dawn of time, beauty has not been expected of men. For a man to grow old and wise is considered an achievement, his challenge against himself. He still may garner the attention of younger admirers. Women seem to make competition against each other and inspire the criticism, perhaps, by exposing the concern.”
Caroline Issa: “It’s pretty obvious that society as a whole tends to dwell on youth, yet there are wonderful signs appearing celebrating aging. Of course as I get older, I probably look out for these more often too.
I feel like we are being constantly reminded about youth, but not necessarily to look as young as possible. Perhaps because many of the people I admire tend to be 40+, with amazing experiences under their belt, I don’t feel so much pressure myself. If anything, I think I feel more pressure to be fit, to exercise regularly and to take care of my body for the future as all our bodies transform as we get older.”
Scott Schuman: “When I started The Sartorialist I would put up photos of older people. It was the first time a lot of people, especially in the younger generation, had ever seen young people put up right next to older people and saying this is someone who is fashionable. I had a lot of people that were 22 saying, ‘This is what I want to look like when I’m older.’ Magazines are too worried, they’ve got to sell magazines, they have a lot of overhead. People want to be able to find aspirational examples of how they want to grow older. A lot of the media is too afraid to do that.
For every one older woman, a beautiful older woman, that I’m able to get a picture of, there are eight that say no. I’ve almost given up. They are beautiful, they look great and they say no. I would like to say it’s media or it’s men, but it’s women having their own issues. If women want to have someone to look up to, they have to look in the mirror and look to each other. They have to say, ‘I’m proud of my wrinkles and how I look.’
Aging gracefully means controlling everything that you can control, and what ever else happens happens. It’s accepting the age that you are and not having to lie about it. “