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"Anti Ageing" is it a damaging phrase?

12th June 2018

So, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has issued a report on how the phrase "anti-ageing" is not good.  

They say that ageism is the most common form of discrimination in the UK today, which surprised me given the amount of coverage given to discrimination for other reasons in the national press.  Those allergic to nuts, the overweight, young women in short skirts - I hear way more about this than age discrimination unless it's specifically job related.

The report called "That Age Old Question", says that age discrimination starts as young as 6 years old, but specifically singles out the beauty industry for the persistent "anti-ageing" message.

At the same time the Telegraph published this piece HERE about summer hair styles for the 40+ woman.  Now, I worked in beauty PR for twenty years, I put my hands up, during that time we talked about anti-ageing a lot.  However, that was a few years ago and the tide has really turned.

This piece, I'm sorry Telegraph, is one of the laziest pieces I've ever seen and here's why:

  • Nothing, but nothing in the copy is specific to the 40+ woman's hair.  There's no mention of colour, cuts that could work, suncare for wirier hair, suncare for coloured hair, aftercare for really dry hair, nothing.

  • I'm going to recreate the hairstyle suggestions and take some photos for you.  Tell me that they don't all look absolutely ridiculous on a 40+ woman.  Ribbons as an Alice Band?  Aww come on, it's not a look unless you're off to Goodwood's Revival Festival and you've used a scarf to look like a Land Girl.  I'll let you know when I post them (probably after the weekend, I need to find some ribbon first)

  • The model - You take a stab at her age as I've been generous and said under 25.  Jane Cunningham, British Beauty Blogger thinks she's under 20 (and Jane's further advice is if you want to know about 40+ hair then don't read the Telegraph).  We KNOW that there are quality 40+ year old models out there so what happened?  Was she someone's relative and needed the portfolio shots?  Was she in the building for something else and you thought this a quick shoot?  All I can say is "Really?"

However, while I'm having some fun with the Telegraph, the original report by the RSPH says that 49% of women feel pressured to stay looking young.  As bright intelligent women how have we allowed this to happen?  We must have let everyone play our deepest fear in order that 50% of us feel this pressure and that's sad.

TOYL is all about being the best version of yourself at whatever age and you're totally free to choose what that looks like, but let's not talk any more about "anti-ageing".  Yes, I want great skincare, but to nourish and care for my skin.  Yes, I want to use make up as I feel better and more confident with it on, but that's up to me.  Yes, I colour my hair (which is total vanity) but for now, I like it.  What I'm really focused on is weight loss, good nutrition and fitness.  These three things take most of my self-centered thoughts during the week.

In short, find what works for you as you are now, don't do yourself down, there are enough people in the world to do that for you, so be kind to yourself.

Also, let's try and do something positve about this for others.  

As mid-life women, let's think about bridging that gap between those older than us and those younger.  Why don't we actively work to mix with the generations either side of us to help dispel the segregation and lack of understanding that seems to happen these days when we keep to our own tribe?  Nearly two thirds of us do not have a friendship that bridges a 30 year age gap.  How on earth will we understand each other and tackle negative perceptions about ageing?

I was on a course last week and the most entertaining chap in the room was in his 70's and I'm starting to do business with a woman in her late 20's (photographer, see what you think next month as she's shooting some social media shots for me).  Why not think about doing something specifically with age groups outside your own age range?  It'll keep you open-minded, that's for sure and if we don't lead the way then the body-beautiful Instagram generation coming up to 40 are going to be in for a real shock.

I'm not suggesting anything radical, I'm not suggesting a full Sunday of visiting the elderly, but a few hours volunteering in a drop in centre, a few hours in a youth club, a few hours at a new club but spend time with those you might not usually speak to.  I'm not forcing you, just give it some thought.  If we all did a bit, we might just turn the tide.

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