Having recently just turned 39, my thoughts lately have been turning to our society’s views on ageing. Ageing is something that we must fight, if you listen to all the women’s toiletries marketing ploys. Combat ageing, they say, with their Miracle Defense Cure (incidentally, I did a search on how many products contain the word “defense” in their name for creams, lotions and potions, and it was staggering…) and you will be young forever, for young is beautiful.
Now, I don’t know about you, and can’t speak for the masses, but I don’t want to look like a twelve year old girl. Most models in fashion magazines are under 16 years of age. They wouldn’t even be able to afford the clothes that they are modelling for the older, more affluent women who buy said magazines. Billboards and television advertisements show us young women all the time, for everything from cosmetics to kitchens. We have ingrained in our minds that young is beautiful, and have it reinforced each and every day.
I have recently heard that young women are also shaving themselves completely, removing all pubic hair. Why, I have absolutely no idea, but this only reiterates our new obsession with youth – they may state for hygienic or fashion purposes, but the fact of the matter remains – they still will end up looking like pre-pubescent girls. Not terribly sexy, in my opinion.
Why do we have such a fear of ageing? Why do we consider youth to be so beautiful, at least for the human race? Many humans see beauty in older things, such as a 500 year old tree, or a 1,000 year old cathedral. Here in the UK, the ideal home in the country would be something reminiscent of a house built in the 1600 – 1800’s. Old, at least for some things, is aesthetically pleasing. Why not for the human body as well?
We do not venerate the old in our society; it is not an achievement anymore to reach old age, what with the wonders of modern medicine. Old people are a burden to those still earning money, getting in the way until they are put in homes. We do not look after our elderly anymore, but pay others to do it for us. Out of sight, out of mind. We fear ageing, we do not want to have to deal with it. It’s a sickening, maddening cycle, for we will all age. It’s the one thing that we cannot avoid at any cost. The diet industry might lose us as customers once we’ve lost the desired weight, but there’s no stopping the ageing process, and manufacturers know this, licking their lips in anticipation of our progress down the linear track of time.
Ageing for a man is still, as far as I can observe, less of a fear than for a woman. Men with grey hair are sexy. Women with grey hair are not. Distinguished, people say of men with grey hair. What of women? Personally, I cannot wait to have grey hair, or white even – I love the colour. But society disagrees with me, and sells us harmful chemicals to put on our heads to cover up those grey hairs. As women live longer than men, on the whole, why do they fear ageing even more?
The loss of youth equals the loss of beauty. We need to change our perception of that in order to alleviate our fears. It’s a silly fear in the first place, as nothing we can do will prevent it from happening. And yet, women all over the world go under the knife to have surgery, or injections, or pay exorbitant amounts of money on products that don’t really do anything. Why, for the love of the goddess, why?
Fear is such a grand motivator in all things. We must embrace our fear, as we must embrace our ageing. What is it that we fear about ageing? For some, it might be the fear of being cast aside, of not being a “productive” member of society – what will I do in retirement? For others, it means coming to terms with their own mortality. I know that after meditating on this for some time, my personal fear is the loss of beauty – until I realised that beauty does not come with an age limit. I look around me and find inspiration in all things beautiful and realise just how limiting it is to think of beauty in terms of age. Step outside the human mindset and watch your world expand.
Watching my face and body change is now no longer depressing – it’s interesting, and a little exciting. My curves are softer, my breasts larger. I have cellulite on my thighs. I have wrinkles on my cleavage. Little lines around my eyes. My hands show the hours of work that I have put them to. My days of sunshine and laughter shown in freckles and wrinkles. Tattoos mark life transitions, and will look amazing no matter what age I get, as they will change with my body. Scars show life’s trials and tribulations. All these are a part of my self, and denying these, hating these, is hating myself. What a bloody waste of time.
If society tells me that I should fear ageing, I shall stick up two fingers to it and tell them to bugger off. I’m more afraid of war, nuclear waste, fracking and the poor badgers who are being culled than I am of ageing. I no longer fear ageing full stop. To hell with their distractions – there are so much more important things to be doing that standing in front of a mirror looking at a wrinkle or two.
I adored my youth, and have many, many fond memories of it. Growing up in a beautiful part of the world, loving a beautiful boy for the first time, learning to play music and sing, to roam and find personal freedom. I am also adoring my “middle years”, whatever that may mean. Each and every day is precious, and so I will be thankful for them. There is no battle to be fought, there is no war to be won on ageing. Time is time, and cares not whether you try out your best wrinkle defense cream. Be like time, and care not about that which you cannot alter. Don’t go with the flow, but be the flow itself. Live, love and be happy, free of the fear that society tells you that you should have. Stand tall and proud, grey hairs and saggy breasted, and know that you are goddess, that you are beautiful, if you only allow yourself to be.