Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Who needs a surgeon to look good?

. . . asks the Observer.

My own observation is that a combination of the best hairdressing you can't afford, adroitly applied make-up and a really good skincare regime, will take you very far. But mainly the hairdressing.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely. But one comment on the Observer article - are we to believe that Raquel Welch has never undergone any form of interference? Joanna Lumley has even admitted to partaking of Botox! So where does that leave us in terms of role models?

I have to admit that at age 47 I'm actually quite enjoying noticing the changes in my face. It's all a matter of grooming - good skin is good skin not necessarily young skin.

I'm reminded of Holly Golightly in the book Breakfast at Tiffanys when she says she would not consider wearing diamond rings until well over 40 when her hands would be old and wrinkled enough!

Rosaria said...

I struggle to find mature role models who haven't had work done. Microdermabrasion brought my skin out in welts.

Am switching to good quality skincare instead. Regular exercise, regular hair maintenance, careful diet and adequate sleep helps enormously.

I am sick to death of the media-fuelled fear of growing decrepit and the unrealistic expectations to halt the ravages of time. Certainly the selection of clothes dwindles as one gets older, but I'm damned if I'm going to be invisible.

Classics are timeless and always available. Imaginative accessories help one update and add personality and fabulous flair to what you wear.

Women should not feel so pressured to show more skin. Less is more.

For years I hated my clothes, hated ageing with a vengeance. I've recently becoming more accepting of myself, silenced the Negative Voice within, and guess what, I look better now than I did five years ago. I have had my teeth whitened, and that boosted my morale hugely. But I have given up on unrealistic improvements that I cannot afford - like cosmetic surgery.

I feel more dignified, look classier. Attitude has a whole lot to do with it.

And I bought my first leather jacket at age 51. So there.

Anonymous said...

Like Rosaria, I have discovered my way of presenting myself to the world in the second half of my life. I have finally come to the conclusion that the Western style of dressing with its requirements of display only results in a dissatisfied feeling of inadequacy. Instead I now look to Japanese designers for inspiration and enjoy envoloping my body in beautiful fabrics and abstract shapes. And please don't tell me that the pixie haircut is out - I took the plunge and have never looked back! I wear all this with my Converse trainers or gold Birkenstocks and feel great!

A Greying Pixie

Anonymous said...

Hello. I also prefer to concentrate on the positive rather than pander to a 'culture which acitively encourages women to hate themselves', but I am intrigued to find out more about facial acupunture which I hear is very good and non-interventionist in nature. Does anyone have any experience of it?

Anonymous said...

This is just yet another story of how the older woman is still considered sexy. Just when you begin to believe it out comes a long list of Botoxed, lifted examples and you realise that nothing has changed. I always thought Anna Ford was a good model who was determined to be the 'first grey-haired newsreader'. Unfortunately her employers had other ideas.

California Dreamer said...

We must remember that there are many in the entertainment industry for whom the extension of a youthful appearance translates to a significant extension of their careers. This may be true to a lesser extent in other industries as well.

It is ironic that we decry our daughters' need to look as thin or blonde or whatever as the starlet du jour, while watching the aging beauties of our own generation with eyes that mirror our daughters. We are old enough, and I hope wise enough, to choose how to age based on our own needs and desires, not just to copy women whose lives may be lived in a subculture quite different from our own.

Deja Pseu said...

We've come to a point where there are so few images of women over 40 in any form of media where the subjects have not undergone one or more "procedures", or that have not been photoshopped to death. Even though there are women all around us who are aging naturally, media images tend to be presented as what we "should" look like and it's tough not to compare oneself. That said, I cannot imagine having cosmetic surgery or Botox. I've grown accustomed to my face, and my hands would give my age away anyhow.

I've also recently returned to a pixie cut and plan to keep it for some time, and have shifted my focus to being stylish rather than youthfully pretty.

Anonymous said...

As well as hair, make-up and skin care, I think you should include really good dental care, as the care of the teeth actually influences health and longevity. As for role models, people need to stop looking to the media for solutions and search within their own communities for sensible examples of graceful aging.

Linda Grant said...

Lots of very good comments, here, thank you.

Deja Pseu said...

As for role models, people need to stop looking to the media for solutions and search within their own communities for sensible examples of graceful aging.

Totally agree. However even if one doesn't watch TV or go looking for role models in the media, we're still bombarded with images daily from billboards to magazine covers at the checkout stand. It takes a lot of conscious effort to not internalize those images to some degree.

Rosaria said...

Like A Greying Pixie, I have also embraced the graceful clothing and beautiful fabrics of Eastern cultures, although I stick to Western clothes for work. So saying, I don't swathe myself in metres of figure-hiding cloth either, I still have assets I like to flatter. God bless them.

I'm in the media, and do understand that maintaining a youthful look does mean longevity for a career, by current standards. But damn the double standard, where greying male anchormen are OK, but greying women, not. The presenter of the show, where I was a producer recently, relentlessly dieted and so on. Her eventual replacement (a man) is greying and almost bald.

Reading these comments, from women who have thumbed their noses at convention and re-invented style and attitude, warms my heart.

You go girls!

Susan F said...

I wonder how much of the age complex/insecurity is imposed by the media. I am 51 and, after being widowed a few months ago have re-established contact with a lot of old school friends/flat mates/work friends recently, some of whom I have not seen for some years. I was surprised how little they have changed over the years. A few grey hairs, a few lines and a few pounds yes, but most of them look pretty good for (and less than) their ages. On reflection, I realise that I do too. I agree that a good skin care routine and looking after your hair (and teeth (as anonymous says) makes a real difference. I can also afford to buy better quality clothes now, and am building up a new, and more mature wardrobe (which my teenaged daughters have taken to raiding surprisingly often). I too am determined to make the most of my more mature years.


Anonymous said...

As someone who embarked on dental braces in her mid fifties I agree that teeth make a difference to your appearance. Mine were only slightly crooked in my youth but have become more so as I aged. I'm less than halfway through the 2 year treatment, but already they look much better, even with the rather bizarre effect of braces on a middle aged woman. When the braces come off I'll have them whitened as well.
It all part of a philosophy that as you age you need to get details right to look good, such as clothes that fit well and flatter,
preferably in interesting fabrics that feel good.
Thankfully, although my job entails dealing with the public there is no pressure to look young, unlike those in the entertainment industry. I wouldn't consider invasive procedures such as plastic surgery or Botox.

I'm comfortable looking like the middle aged woman that I am. I just want to be an attractive and stylish one.

Anonymous said...

Following on from the last two points, I think what we are doing as we mature is discarding things that don't work and having the confidence to go forward with only those things that we choose. A very spiritual female artist I know one said that she found it essential to locate the things in her life that were taking away her energy and to discard them.

I've really enjoyed reading and contributing to this strand of your blog - it's great to know we do not stand alone!

Anonymous said...

Linda, could I follow up my comments yesterday by drawing your attention to a wonderful Italian lady whose looks and demeanour I have admired for years - she is Marta Marzotto, a woman in her 70s who has really found her own timeless style. If anyone is interested you can find her photo on google and getty images. She is definitely at the top of my list of role models. I never cease to be amazed by her dignity and the natural warmth that comes over even in photos. A complete contrast to the Hurley ego.

The Greying Pixie

phyllis said...

Hairdressing - so true. I've been going to the same stylist for 25 years, far far longer than I've known my husband. Nothing relaxes me like a great haircut, a good color and a brisk blow dry. I go back to work feeling like a million bucks.

Anonymous said...

And one other essential, a secret passed to me by my 88 (yes 88!) year old French beauty therapist - place a pencil between your front teeth sideways as if it were a rose, then repeat the letters 'O X' over and over for one minute. Do it religiously one minute a day for the rest of your life and you will never have a sagging neck. She is 88 and living proof of this

Duchesse said...

Greying Pixie/Anonymous: I would love to see your wardrobe, and fondly salute you.

Years ago I read Germaine Greer's "Menopause" and she commented that Italian women resolve the what-shall-I- wear-now crisis by draping themselves in exquisite fabrics.

Greying pixie said...

Thank you duchesse. My wardrobe is indeed very important to me, an on-going project that started in my teens when I was greatly influenced by my Italian mother. I do believe the quality of fabric is just as important as the design and fit.

But most of my important buys these days are from sample sales and, dare I say it, ebay (Sorry Linda, is that word allowed on your blog?). I've found many Comme and Yamamoto pieces at a snip of the original price - but maybe I shouldn't be telling you this as I will now have to compete and raise the final price!

Italian women do indeed dress using all their senses, although in fairness they live in a climate that encourages that way of living. Roll on summer - then we can all float around London in our Egyptian kaftans! I'll look out for you on the bus!