Does your skin seem older?

I had settled down to watch Grand Designs on Channel 4.  It was just the kind of build I love - eco-friendly, with a small budget, and passionate and principled builders getting their own hands dirty, not a "£2m throw money at it and produce an identikit piece of modernism" build.  Ian was watching with me.  I had a glass of wine in my hand and a fire going in the woodburner.  Perfect.

Then the commercial break.  A young and beautiful woman was being used to sell skincare products to women at least ten years older.  So far, so normal.  I can't remember the name of the magic moisturiser which was being promoted, which I must say seems both ironic and pleasing, but suddenly a line in the advertising pap leapt out at me "Der der der der der der der .... skin seems older..... der der der" with the exhortation to use whatsit and improve things.

"Skin seems older"?   Well hang on, if you wake up one morning and "skin seems older" that's because it is.  With every day, with every minute, with every breath, we are getting older.  We are all of us on the same trajectory, from birth to death, slowly or quickly and we are all responsible for how we use the time in between.  But whatever we do with our life, it passes.  Your skin doesn't "seem" older from one week or month to the next, it is.

That weaselly little word "seems" set me off on one of my rare rants.  We age, we die.  Face it, understand it, as much as anyone can.  We are all getting older.  Our society puts such a premium on youth, while demonising children and young people in the next breath.  Everywhere the young, slim and beautiful are used to sell things to us and the pressure on us all to look good is phenomenal.  Even for the young, there is the pressure to be slim and beautiful and teenage girls undertake a grooming regime which needs the energy and commitment of a full time job.  But for anyone over about thirty five there is on top of that a huge pressure to look young.  Particularly for women but for men too, there is a whole industry devoted to persuading us that we must be line free, slim waisted, with glossy hair without a thread of grey.  The plastic surgery business is booming to the extent that we may soon forget what a face looks like at fifty three, not like Madonna's, that's for sure.  And not like Liz Jones's, who seems to have gone through the pain of surgery to look strange but not young.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to look good.  I dye my hair.  I don't think it would be grey if I didn't but I am not really sure what colour it would be if you left it to its own devices.  I have liked being blond since I was eighteen and don't intend to stop just yet.  I wear mascara.  I try to prevent my appetite for good food and good wine getting totally out of hand.  But  I don't look like my daughters and I don't want to.  When Facebook throws the adverts at me about 52 year olds looking 34, I neither believe it nor care. 

We are all caught up in an act of  massive self delusion.  If we spend enough, groom enough, moisturise enough, exercise enough, have enough plastic surgery we will surely not grow old.  And on the same day we hear on the news about old people in hospital uncared for, unable to feed themselves, meals left to go cold while nurses sit in front of computers.  We don't want to engage with the old.  They remind us that we will be them one day.  They challenge the delusion that we can be young for ever is only we try hard enough.

Skin doesn't seem older from day to day.  It is.  That's the way life works.  I think we live life better if we grasp, however imperfectly, that we are moving through it, getting older.  That's just the way it is. 

Comments

  1. Elizabeth, what has happened to your blog? I had trouble working out where your words were as all I got were a zillion photos and then when i finally found what you had written, no photos or header. Is this the new improved blogger? If so I dont like it.

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  2. It's called dynamic views I think penny. I haven't decided yet whether to stick with it. Certainly don't want to put you off! It has lost the header and the side bars but I do quite like the photo and word format. I'm thinking about it!

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  3. On the blog style, it looks good when following a link directly to a post. Shows just the post contents overlaying all of the pictures.

    On the rant about the ad, I completely agree, though to make you feel a bit better, skin on a human body ages rapidy, dies and falls off every day with fresh, new, healthy skin in it's place... so in theory... you should be waking up with brand new young skin... you're feeling younger everyday? :)

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  4. Only drawback with the fresh new skin theory is that new skin at 70 is not like new skin at 7!

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  5. I like the blog look Elizabeth - much more up to date, a big improvement - leading the way.

    Neil.

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  6. My skin is as old as I am, and not bad for the things it's been through!
    I don't see any photos on your blog -just words, and while I like your words, I liked your photos too - not fond of the new blogger.

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  7. My skin looks my age and I dare anyone to have a problem with that. I think it's darn well my own personal business and I'll decide what to do about it. I'll slap the lotion on it every day and that ought to be good enough. I'm not chasing eternal youth.

    As to the template, I tried this one for a while but decided to go back to the more conventional one. I thought it was more user friendly.

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  8. Na, at 67 I'm all for looking 67! The map of my life is on my face, whoever can't accept it, bye bye.
    The new Wordpress look? I miss the sidebars.......

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  9. Well, m'lady; you post jumped out at me, and (frankly) startled me for a moment. But being a Bear, and thus made of sterner stuff, I quickly recovered. After giving my computer a good swat.
    I'm with Nora. My skin looks my age. And I'm perfectly happy to Bear that reality. If I tried to look younger, the rest of the Bears would laugh me out of the bush. So silly!

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  10. I'm with you completely. I have no problem growing old and at 45 I feel quite happy in my body. I use moisturiser and I have been dieting as my trousers were tight but this is more or health than image.

    I generally ignore all the rubbish especially as some of the most glamorous women around are comfortable with their appearance and havent resorted to plastic surgery etc. People like Helen Mirran and Nancy whatsit from Strictly.

    I also suspect that some of the women who resort to age defying stuff are doing so because of their husbands - either to keep them or because they have been traded in for a younger model!!!

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  11. I like Von's comment above - "a map of my life is on my face" and I agree with it.

    Ageing is what it is ... getting older, it happens to us all and some people manage it more gracefully than others. It is the effect of gravity that I sometimes regret, everything does seem to be gently sliding South.
    K

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  12. I agree with the patient gardener, I'm 43 & I'm embracing the changes in my skin & body. I've changed to a heavier moisturiser & am upping the exercise but surgery & injections- no way! I've also stopped the hair dye (very controversial amongst my friends!) & just go for a really good cut instead... If I feel good about myself it doesn't matter what other people think (& Mr TH agrees)

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  13. Love the new dynamic look. So much easier to find older posts that look interesting as you scroll down the pictures. As for it being text only, that's just this post, isn't it? I wonder whether leaving comments from Wordpress has got any easier...

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  14. Mixed views here on the dynamic view then! I like the way it looks and the way you can change that both as a writer and a reader (Click through the drop down menu on the top left corner) I do miss my blog list particularly. Might have to set that up as a new page if I can.

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  15. I'm not sure I like the new look, I'm lazy and like things to stay the same.
    As for my skin, it's old and dry, but given my age, which is old, I don't think it's too bad and I refuse to buy expensive junk so I can pretend I'm young.

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  16. This new blog configuration is wacky.

    That being said, I agree with you about the whole aging thing. One of the things I most admire about British women actors especially is their refusal to undergo cosmetic surgeries and changes. When they age, they look older - and get parts for older people! Look at Judi Dench... no chin implants, no lip plumping, no facelifts, no hair dye even! She just marches on, her inimitable and wonderful and glorious SELF. She is my role model.

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  17. Having reflected through the day, I have decided I rather like this blog look
    :)
    K

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  18. Ah yes, make the most of today for you'll never be this young again. I rather like this age of invisibility. I can grow old disgracefully and no one notices....

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  19. Right on the mark, as usual, Elizabeth. If I grew grey evenly, instead of in badger stripes, I would stop dyeing my hair, but skinwise, I really don't mind looking or being my age at all.

    Except for the reading glasses......

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  20. I wonder, if the readers who miss your pictures, are somehow getting just the central column, without the tiled background I see on 3 sides.

    Old skin? Yes, and with the dermatologist muttering about rosacea. I'm in the grey with a good cut group.

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  21. I waffled on so much in reply to this I copied and pasted it onto my blog - so it's here now http://esthersboringgardenblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/ive-just-read-elizabeths-post-on-skin.html

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  22. Just read the bolg, wow it is a change. That advert really did upset you... and I do agree. Its about time these adverts used real women, at the actual age the product is directed at. at least we may feel we have a chance. As for the rest our skin tells a lot of stories and our face lines add character - thats who we are.

    I have to say I do miss the pictures and hope you feel better now after your rant.x

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  23. It's amazing how that little word 'seems' just hit the button with you. I agree with you about the anti-age bias and the unrealistic and narrow representations of so-called beauty, especially as it skews the persepctive of young and/or insecure women. I used to kind of scoff at the idea of being bothered about ageing, but find that now (at 57) I'm a little less smug. I have now suddently (it seems to me) moved into middle age and it does bother me a bit in some ways. Mostly when my knees hurt, but also when the camera shows a different me than the one I see in the mirror. It's amazing how much we filter out from our own reflection! And while I like my natural hair, I've started paying more attention to makeup - a little can do a lot. And damned if I didn't buy a push-up bra the other day.

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  24. Great blog - I agree too. I prefer the character of proper ageing rather than the duck-lipped big boobed weirdness that is supposedly 'beauty'. I don't see anything wrong with using creams to keep skin soft or dye to change our hair colour but the advertising of it all really gets my goat. (And I NEVER buy anything which says the model has been 'enhanced in post-production' - that's like admitting it doesn't work!)

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  25. Excellent post. Yes, my skin IS older as is the rest of my body. I don't fight against the inevitable but I do try not to look like someone's grandma (in the traditional sense of the word). Like you, I dye, I mascara, I shave and pluck; but I also wear looser clothing than I used to and mostly sensible shoes. So far, I'm okay with aging.

    But I'm not okay with some young thing trying to sell me a product that I haven't seen proof that it works. Give me someone my own age please!

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  26. I agree with you - as you get older things age with you. Surprise! However, I always find it amazing how much a good moisturizer helps. Sometimes I slap some on my face, and my skin almost drinks it in and thanks me. Probably because I'm no longer living in the UK and it gets dryer than heck here in the autumn and winter.

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  27. Yes, weird format. Seems older somehow! Maybe it needs some of the der der der ...what was it? But no I am with you 100 per cent although you can be careless (or careful) about your appearance at any age. The people who look best are not actually those that look younger than they are but who look their real age gracefully and elegantly.

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  28. Ageing is a bit scary, but inevitable. Too many women look plain odd when trying to keep young looking, you can see stretched skin and plumped lips a mile off and it's not my idea of beauty.
    Harry told me I looked pretty the other day when I was wearing no makeup and had three-day hair scraped back into a clip. I think what he meant was I looked like me. No artifice. I think he's on to something there...

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  29. oh buggeration. Luckily, having been struck down all day, I'd copied so can paste:
    hmmm, not sure on new look, got confused and couldn't work out how to carry on - though it's nice it being so colourful. Hate new blogger (luddite) it won't accept carriage returns for me, which I depend on. So haven't made the change yet. Also, going through the comments v hard here, wouldn't shift down. Anyway, rant, YES. Did you know the new wheeze is to dye your roots black to look like the phoney bit is blonde and you're really grey-free dark? bollocks to it all I say!
    (oh blogger/google won't let me have access (its words) to your comment thing, the cheek! so this is milla from countrylite)

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  30. And I expect you notice that these wonder creams only make it 'seem' or 'look' younger because even they know it's still older.
    Teresa

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  31. well being the lazy slattern that I am - I don't use make up, don't use skin products, don't dye my hair an am generally as God intended me to be at my age, albeit I have lost a few bits along the way.

    I've even stopped caring that my eyebrows didn't grow back because unless I mention it no one else seems to have noticed anyway!

    My only concession to this is I do like pretty bubbles in the shower and the bath. Apart from that, my skin care consists of Imperial Leather and water and the occasional slap of QV cream (a general purpose emollient) when my skin gets sore and itchy in the winter!

    I don't understand people who spend hours putting on the slap, or spending a fortune on the latest 'miracle' products or having surgery to change their looks. I am even more mystified when young women do it.

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