Now that I’m on the fast track to 50, I find myself head to head with the idea of really getting older. I guess when I was in my 30s, and even up until my mid 40s, I didn’t feel any pressure to ‘stay young’. I’ve always wanted to look good for my age rather than try to cheat it. Having worked as a Health & Beauty Editor on glossy magazines for years, I know the power of a good face cream, have always slathered myself in high SPFs as well as understanding that what we eat and staying fit and healthy is just as important in maintaining youthfulness.
I’m always wary of quick fixes and marketing hype – even though I want to be the first to know which type of yoga the ‘A’ listers are doing, or what new ingredient is going to save our skin. And while loving all the gloss, being an insider meant I was witness to the tricks and secrets: how models are made to look the way they do on the page. At photo shoots, I learned the power of great hair and make-up, and of course, that re-touching can work major miracles (especially in this digital age).
Yet I don’t find any of this negative. Quite the opposite, because I saw the transformations, and knew what the models looked like when they walked into the studio. Beautiful breeds that they are (with longer legs, amazing features, poise), within the model remit, they come in all shapes and sizes. Some have impossibly fine hair, some not so great lips, others (eeek) even have cellulite. The greatest models are a blank canvas, and can, chameleon like morph into the modish looks of the time. I love that. To me, the glamour of high fashion – great photography, make-up, hair, and the clothes – is escapism. It inspires.
Still, I’ve now got this nagging feeling that it’s for the young. I feel like I’ve been going through a bit of a second adolescence (ok, mid-life crisis). I’m trying to maintain my style as I age without clinging on to the past. My biggest age transformation so far has been via my hair. In my 20s, I had light brown hair with warm tones. Light, yes, but brown. And to my horror I began to find greys around the age of 24. From there, it was a constant round of visits to the colourist to disguise them until I was a full-blown blonde which required all-over tint and strategically placed lights artfully hand painted on to look natural. Eventually, the roots needed re-touching every 4 weeks, and it was beginning to not only be a pain to maintain, it also felt like the ‘wrong’ hair for me. With the help of a colour genius, I’ve been able to wean myself off the tinting and highlighting to find I have silvery white hair which luckily, seems to suit my age 49 and a bit complexion.
Its taken about 18 months, but feels so much softer, is more flattering, and most importantly more ‘me’ than the blonde that had worked all the way through my 30s. Yet I want to think of myself as white blonde. There is the odd crisis when I see a photo, and see how white it is, and I immediately think ‘old’. But I am pro ageing.
I am practising acceptance on this and all aspects of ageing. Although with a lot of yoga (a flexible spine is key to staying young); eating well (which includes my favourite chocolate, and the odd glass of wine or champagne); expensive anti-wrinkle creams (sorry, but the good ones are worth the money); strategic supplementation (as systems do slow down and need help); a good dentist (whitening and straightening are on the to do list).
I am glad that American Vogue has Amber Valetta (the 90s supermodel now in her 40s) looking fabulous in a main fashion spread this month. And good old M&S have Grace Coddington et al posing for Annie Liebovitz in their latest fashion ad campaign. Perhaps we can now be fashionably ageless.