Oh how glad I shall be to see the back of January! Not sure why this month has been so dreary, but I’ve found it a real struggle to keep my pecker up. And it’s not been helped by a rather unpleasant ‘spat’ that broke out within the Super Troopers which is our closed Facebook group. In simple terms, a Super Trooper wrote a post about the dissatisfaction she felt with her ageing face. Her solution was to seek a cosmetic procedure using injectable fillers to ‘correct’ those areas that bothered her. She mentioned the brand name of the fillers and also told us that the doctor she saw was recommended by Anthea Turner. The post received lots of interest and comments, most of which said how wonderful she looked and some asked for more information.
Those of you who know me well, will understand why this particular post upset me so much
I sought to nip it in the bud with my own post stating my position on invasive cosmetic procedures, and explaining why I felt that this particular post went against our ethos of celebrating rather than bemoaning our ageing faces. A great many people supported what I was saying, however there were others who chose to side with the Super Trooper who then went on to suggest that such procedures were no different from (say) changing the colour of your hair or having cosmetic dentistry. Battle lines were now clearly drawn and, as is the pattern on social media when this happens, the discussion became far more contentious and toxic. Some unpleasant things were said, some aimed at the Super Trooper and some aimed at me.
So, why am I writing about this and prolonging the agony? Why not just let it go and move on? Because this really matters to me. It’s about who I am and what I stand for in relation to older women’s faces. I really hope you don’t think I am being judgmental and preachy and out of step with procedures that are becoming commonplace, especially amongst the younger generation. It really is none of my business how any woman chooses to spend her money or what she decides to do to her face or body. My issue doesn’t lie with individuals but with the ageism that underlies it all. I loathe it and would like you to understand how much - so here goes.
Eight years ago I had the idea for a different kind of makeup company for older women when I myself was 65. I knew that the beauty industry was very focussed (one could say obsessed) by the youth market for their products. They liked to show their makeup and skincare on young, unlined, smooth, perfect looking skin, just as the fashion industry always shows their clothes on young, tall, thin models. I looked at their advertisements, I visited their makeup counters and I tried their formulations and knew that none of these things was even remotely designed to appeal to me. I had my epiphany for the business when I bought a Chanel foundation for around £40 which was advertised as ‘creating a beautiful glowing skin’. Well, it didn’t on me! I threw it in disgust into a drawer with all my other broken dreams of beauty and decided that I could do much better.
My philosophy for Look Fabulous Forever was and remains simple. The beauty industry is predicated on the notion that you are either young or you are striving to look young. They coined the term ‘anti-ageing’ as the most profound expression of the belief that an ageing face needs to be ‘treated’ in order to eradicate those flaws that come with age. So it produces ‘anti-wrinkle’ creams and promises youthfulness and flawlessness. I wanted Look Fabulous Forever to have no truck with any such pressure to turn back the clock. I was determined that our videos would show real older women with faces altered only by time not by a scalpel or a syringe. I was also determined that our language would be positive, life and age affirming and would seek to help older women to feel good about their ageing selves. It would encourage confidence and self belief rather than shame and apology for a face which genuinely reflected a long life, well lived.
And, in as far as I have been able, I have stuck to my guns. I have written a book called ‘Living the Life More Fabulous’ which is my treatise on positive ageing. I have spoken on the TV, radio, various podcasts and been interviewed in numerous newspaper and magazine articles saying that the anti-ageing rhetoric of the beauty industry needs to be challenged and changed. And yesterday as I was walking through our local shopping centre, I noticed that Boots has quite a large photograph of a woman of about 60 with obvious wrinkles advertising their skincare. Not a heavily airbrushed image of the ubiquitous Helen Mirren, not even a beautiful aspirational model, but a real older woman who looked happy in her own ageing skin. Perhaps in some small way I have contributed to that change over the past eight years.
So, back to that dreaded post! I set up the Super Troopers Group at the start of lockdown in March 2020 in order to offer support within a community of like-minded older women. The group grew rapidly at first, and then more slowly, to reach around seven thousand members today. Many are customers of Look Fabulous Forever, however many are not and may not be very interested in makeup at all. I am fine with that as posts and discussions cover a wide range of topics of interest to us all. We tend to steer clear of politics and religion for obvious reasons, and I feel that the group works best when a Super Trooper needs specific advice from those who have had similar experiences, or when a member is in need of kindness, support, compassion and (dare I say it) love.
Considering the challenges of social media in general, I think we Super Troopers do a pretty good job of respecting each others’ views and opinions. Not always, as in this instance, when the Super Trooper (who did know my views) decided to promote invasive cosmetic procedures. Hopefully I have now clarified why such posts go so completely against my personal ethos and the values which underpin Look Fabulous Forever. Perhaps I have been overly sensitive, maybe I have overreacted, maybe it's all a storm in a tea-cup. However, it’s well documented that people live longer, and lead more fulfilled and happier lives in societies that respect, accept and honour them as they age. How wonderful it would be if we could look in the mirror and love, embrace and celebrate our older faces rather than seeing their signs of ageing as a badge of shame in need of botox and fillers.
We are back this New Year with another Makeup Magic Monday session, and this time we will be discussing our top tips for winter skincare. Sally will demonstrate our *brand new* Hydrating Clay Mask and we will talk about looking after your skin from the inside out!
Just read your blog ‘who I am ‘ and strongly agree with everything in it, Tricia. Please keep promoting your philosophy of ageing for women and thank you for the lovely makeup and skincare so suited to my ageing 71 year old face. Suzanne
Hear hear! Well said. Too many people shame 'life lines'. They show we are interesting women!