This week I have been up to Rhyl in North Wales to participate in an event for the readers of Yours Magazine. I gave a talk first and then did a makeover on Marion, one of the guests who was in her mid-sixties.
I got a really positive response from the audience of around fifty women who were aged between mid-sixties to mid-eighties. What most struck me about the ones I talked to was how avidly interested they were in the makeup, but also how confident they were to wear it for fear of looking ridiculous or age inappropriate. When I had finished the makeup on Marion, (see photo below) they all commented on how naturally lovely she looked. This experience has got me thinking about the various barriers our ageist society sets up to exclude older women from the enjoyment of making themselves look prettier with makeup.
Fear of Looking Age Inappropriate:
The beauty industry has a lot to answer for in the messages we get about beauty and age. The only time we see an 'older' face in an ad is when it's selling us a cream to make ourselves look younger. Even then that face is invariably at most a youthful fifty with few imperfections. Makeup itself is never sold using an image of an older face - even Helen Mirren sells us skin care, not colour cosmetics.
The Solution: I made a decision to subvert these ideas when I launched LFF by using ordinary women as models for our videos and makeover photographs. We owe it to ourselves to challenge the idea that over a certain age it is not appropriate to visibly show that we still consider ourselves to be attractive female human beings. Makeup is often associated with attracting a mate, but for me it has always been less about sexual allure and more about feeling happier and more confident when I 'have my face on'.
Fear of Ridicule:
This is about the people around us - our friends and families. There are expectations of how an older woman will behave and this includes a certain 'toning down' and effacement in terms of self presentation. The dreaded phrase 'mutton dressed as lamb' comes to mind, which seems to me to be designed to keep all of us older women in our place. If you have rarely worn makeup and you start to do so, then what is your family going to say? When I did my friend Sally's makeover (see below) her husband wasn't very happy about the makeover and wasn't sure he'd like it, but had to agree when I'd finished that she looked lovely. The
Solution: Is to 'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway'! One of the things about an older face is that it looks SO much better with a bit of colour, shape and definition. It's the quickest and easiest way to look brighter, healthier and more fabulous. Sally's face has come to life with some Bring Back Brow Shape to define her eyebrows, some Continuous Cover Foundation in 03 to even her skin tone, some Real Radiance Blush in Rosy Glow on her cheeks and a beautiful Lustrous Colour Lipstick in Soft Plum. Even a relatively small amount of makeup can lift your face, your mood and your spirits. You might find that when you do apply some makeup, your friends and family will love the 'new you'.
Lack of Experience:
This may be a huge barrier for some. You may feel overwhelmed by the choices available and put off by the sales assistants in shops and beauty halls who are invariably young girls who have little training in best approaches for older faces. For instance, they may not tell you about the vital importance of Face, Eye and Lip Primers which are essential to help your makeup stay put so that it looks more crisp and precise. Perhaps you have only ever worn minimal makeup, or have always done the 'same old routine' and would love to learn how to apply your makeup professionally.
The Solution: Watch one or two of our video tutorials and then experiment! Applying makeup is a creative, playful, fun thing to do. It doesn't matter if you get it wrong - just take it off and start again. I have been applying makeup to my face every day for fifty+ years and I still try different ways with colour and application, especially to my eyes (see my latest video on applying beautiful coloured eye makeup). Just make sure you have a good mirror (I use one on a stand) positioned opposite a big window in natural daylight. Then you can really see what you are doing. I especially love the emails I get from customers, like this five star review which I have just received by Rose: "As a final plus, I've had quite a number of compliments on how well I'm looking since I've been using this brand."
Everything about Look Fabulous Forever, from our philosophy to our gallery images to our videos, is designed to challenge the cultural assumptions made about women and ageing.
I refuse to accept that I am more invisible, less relevant and a less valuable member of society because I have stepped into the territory called 'old age.' The best way I can signal my defiance is in my self presentation, not just on special occasions, but every day. So I will continue to engage with the world on my terms, wearing the clothes I enjoy, having my hair as I want it and showing a fully made up face to the world.
This is what makeup means to me:
I think of makeup as a statement of intention to remain visible
I think of makeup as a way to restore definition to my features
I think of makeup as colour and brightening
I think of makeup as an expression of joyfulness
I think of applying makeup as an act of creativity and fun
I think of makeup as a way to look more confident and stylish
I think of makeup as a signal of assertiveness
I think of makeup as a way to say 'I am happy with what I see in the mirror'
And finally I think of wearing a vibrant red lipstick as a tiny act of rebellion in our ageist society!
What does makeup mean to you and have you felt pressurised to 'tone it down'? And which two Look Fabulous Forever makeup products would you never want to be without? (Mine would be our Lithe Lash Mascara and Lustrous Colour Lipstick!)