Yes, yes we know – Western culture has a major problem with ageing. But knowing it and not letting it get to us are two different things. Everywhere we look – the big screen, TV adverts and magazines – we’re bombarded with messages that growing old is bad news, especially for women. From cosmetics and hair dye to botox and plastic surgery —we’re becoming time-terrified and programmed to keep aging at bay for as long as possible.
And while obsession with youth is not the norm around the world (elders are highly respected in Korea and India, for example), in the Western world we face a very real challenge of accepting ourselves in an environment that would have us believe that we’re ‘not enough’ once wrinkles appear and our hair begins to turn grey. We cannot stop the clock, and by fuelling our obsession with youth we just feed fear rather than embrace the new … so here’s how to reclaim your beauty and self-confidence, beginning with our own attitudes to ageing.
1. Focus on wellbeing
Cameron Diaz is best known for her glamourous acting career, but she’s also a bit of a science buff and our latest pro-age advocate. Take a leaf out of her new book The Longevity Book: The Science of Ageing, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time’ (or better yet, read it!) for her uplifting and empowering view on ageing.
We love her two main messages…
Adopt a positive attitude
Ageing is inevitable, but how we feel about it is ultimately for us to decide – and Cameron encourages us to embrace the process as natural and normal instead of trying to resist it. Adopting a positive attitude towards our changing bodies is a key to looking and feeling our most radiant at any age – being happy in our own skin beats botox every time.
Healthy, happy, beautiful
For Cameron, ageing goes beautifully hand–in-hand with living well and taking great care of ourselves, and she’s all for shifting the focus from measuring ourselves against some unrealistic beauty standards to prioritising our health and wellbeing. Healthy habits don’t only prolong and improve quality of life, they also have a huge impact on how we age and feel in the process. Her top wellbeing tips? Eat a nutritious diet, minimise stress, keep fit and try to get those vital seven hours of sleep every night. And finally, enjoy life because that’s what we’re here for.
2. What’s beautiful to you?
We may not be able to convince the mass media to rethink beauty (not overnight, anyway), but we don’t need to personally subscribe to the narrow definition we see. There are so many different ways to be beautiful regardless of age, shape or size, and we can be advocates of diverse beauty by actively looking for and appreciating it in others as well as ourselves. And beauty is not all about physical features either – qualities like courage, wisdom, and kindness can be very attractive.
3. Turn to positive role models
Paradoxically, while we’re supposed to be at our prettiest in our early 20s, this is also often when we feel our most insecure. Some women find that it’s not until they’re much older that they blossom and find the confidence to be proudly who they are. And all these women who never got the memo that we’re supposed to stop being attractive as we get older make for fab role models for the rest of us still learning to love our changing looks. Take for example the vivacious models featured in the work of the photographer Ari Seth Cohen whose project Advanced Style celebrates the beauty and style of people over 60. These people are living proof that there’s no expiry date for expressing yourself and being gorgeous.
We leave you with the words of Joyce, 79, featured on Ari’s blog:
“I don’t want to look younger, I want to look as great as I can at any age.”
4. Meditate, be present
Feel as great as you can with a bit of omming … a growing body of evidence suggests we can slow down the ageing process at a cellular level with regular meditation, by extending our telemores (part of human cells that affect how we age).
5. Look after what you’ve got
While there’s no need to strive look and feel younger than you are, it’s absolutely great to look and feel as good as you can at every age! So skip the chemical-laden anti-aging creams, skin-stressing peels and botulism face-freeze and nourish and cherish what you have by harnessing active gentle products for your skin.1