Beauty Works“Ageing is Not For Sissies” – Part I

Digital artists are recruited in order to eliminate such “flaws” from actresses, keeping that face “bankable” and the illusion (and everyday women’s self-loathing) perpetually alive… All, for the sake of demonising maturity, and perpetuating unrealistic ideas of female beauty (and keeping the self esteem of everyday women, plunged into abysmal depths).

In the words of the immortal Betty Davis: “Ageing is not for sissies!”Meaning, it takes guts and stamina and a uterus made of titanium, in order to look at your self in the mirror, and see that your looks are gone, or in any case are on their way, and not fall apart. (And then panic and start looking for plastic surgeons and gyms and a good carp-free diet).

We all age, but of course it is the only a woman’s ageing that’s a tragedy. It is the only a woman’s age that diminishes her status and tarnishes her own sense of self with each passing year. It is only women who have much more to lose as they are forced to make the conforming to marketable standards of female beauty their life’s secret purpose, and their gender’s destiny.

Celebrities are faced with an even tougher deal of course, as their livelihood depends on their looks and age, even more than the rest of us. A telling example of that, is the singer Adele, singing at 27, “I’m so mad I'm getting old”!Critics have pointed out that she is too young to feel so old, but if you were born in a woman’s body, you know EXACTLY what she means. You already know that this is what being a woman is about: being made to feel old (or at least on your way), even when you are in your late twenties! Being made to feel like you are past that perfect “prime”. And that there’s an “EXIT” sign in neon light, flashing ominously in front you. A woman’s age, being forever disadvantageously compared with her early twenties, (hers, and every other woman’s on Earth), “ageing”, being the most unpardonable of her sins. Even if she is hardly 30… It is no wonder for example, that two of the top selling female artists, both felt the need to let us know how young they are, in the title of their albums: Taylor Swift’s “1989”, is named after the year in which she was born; Adele’s own last album was “25”, her age when she started recording it (as were her first albums: “19” and “21”). Miley Cyrus, another young pop princess, did the same with her song “23” which was also coincidentally her then current age! It’s a common enough trend among female singers. The same thing was done in 1998, by another, then very young female artist - Alanis Morissette - who after her first brilliant album, felt the need to let us know in her second one, that she was still very young: she actually sings somewhere “Do you realise guys that I was born in 1974?”(making sure we all knew she was just 24) Isn’t it sad? Men in their twenties feel like they are immortal (hell, they feel that in their 70s too…) Women in their twenties, (talented, intelligent, highly accomplished and successful women at the top of their profession), are already panicking about ageing, and are forced to become painfully aware that a dreaded expiration date awaits a few steps down the way. That is why they want to let the world know: “Hey I’m still young”, (which means“I’m still legit”) “Have you noticed?! Please, please, PLEAAAASE notice!!!”

Their fear that they will not be given a fair chance to continue working in their chosen profession for long, is actually reality-based. The singer/songwriter Sia was in 2016 the true rarity of a female artist over 40 to have a song ("Cheap Thrills") at No.1! The last time this has happened was back in 2000, when Madonna (then 42) had a No1. (her 12th) with the song “Music”. A female artist topping the Billboard Hot 100 for the FIRST time (like in the case of Sia) while she is over 40, is an even rarer deal. The last time it happened, was back in 1989, when Bette Midler (then 43) scored this rare victory with “Wind Beneath My Wings.” It took 27 whole years for this to be repeated...

Ours is a cruel, unforgiving world, for any woman over 40… Which explains why so many women out there are so scared of being open about their age and especially, their ageing… Last year for example, when I turned fifty, I’ve written an articleabout what it means, what it feels like, how it gradually changes your body, your perspective (if not your life), and what I feel I’ve lost because of that. After I’ve posted it, friends were repeatedly telling me that 1) I was “very brave”, and 2) I must be “mad”. Because apparently you are not supposed to reveal how old you are (Not publicly! Not voluntarily!) and if you do, then you are most definitely not supposed to admit that you are “ageing”, as in having aches and pains, noticing changes in your face and body, or in the way you interact with men, and so on) And if you do any of that, then it is obviously an act of bravery or one of self-destructive madness…. Because you are not supposed to be honest about such things, right? Not if you are a woman. That’s just dangerous. Because it makes people take notice that you are indeed ageing. The world after all expects you to be perpetually stuck in your twenties: being perky, and sunny, and naive, and more importantly, sexually inexperienced, and looking like a teenager pretty much!The world has no place for middle aged women. And it has no patience for the complexity they carry either.

Ageing may be “forbidden” to women but none of us (male or female) are of course immune to it. If you have ever binge watched any TV show that lasted like 7+ years (and was aired prior to 2014 when “Beauty Works”became common – see below), you get to see even actors and actresses (which is to say, pampered millionaires, who have access to exclusive beauty therapies and personal dieticians and trainers and whatnot) age before your very eyes in the span of the few days your binge watching lasts. It is quite unnerving. They may get thinner and add on the muscle tone in the last seasons, as their panic about ageing increases with each passing year, and they may slowly (and predictably) become unrecognisable by botox and plastic surgery, but underneath it all, they change as much as the rest of us. Which goes to show you… Of course nothing is more natural or more predictable than that: we age and because of that, we change. Every single cells in our body will in seven years's time be replaced.Not one single cell will survive beyond that seven year threshold. Everything continuously changes. And yet we are surprised, shocked, caught unprepared when we come face to face to it... And we fight manically to stop it. As if we can...