The Battle Of The Word: Stop ‘Anti-Ageing’ - ROCKPAPERDRESSES
The Battle Of The Word: Stop ‘Anti-Ageing’
avene Ysthéal, ROckpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand
in collaboration with Avène

How old am I actually? 29 on paper. Too old for UngRejs (ed. a travel agency specialising in youth travel tours), I believe. Yet too young for senior travel. I’m too old to be a ‘young mother,’ but too young to be average. I’m too old for a youth travel card. But too young for a senior citizen card. I’m not too old to adapt to new art forms yet also not too young to think about retirement schemes and life on the other side. My parents find me young, while my nieces consider me to be oooold.

Ever since starting to write in here in the beginning of my twenties, ‘age’ has always taken up quite a lot of space, and typically around my birthday. About the boring aspects of growing older when others are ageing as wellAbout others’ expectations of where to set the bar when you’re ‘just’ 26. How I’ve often been the frontrunner compared to other people my age; the first to have a boyfriend, to move in with a guy, to have a ‘grownup’s job,’ to get engaged (and these days, most people have caught up with me in most areas). On one hand, I just couldn’t wait to grow older; old enough to get confirmed, old enough to move out of home. At the same time, though, I was also terrified at the thought of growing older. Old people, OMG! The nifty thing about the concept, however, is that the definition always seems to be moving. Pretty neat! There was a time when folks in year 9 seemed old. Then it was the ones in senior high, those who were 30+! To imagine that I’d one day be dating a greying man approaching forty – whaaaat?! But at the same time, it would be slightly inappropriate if I still ran around after 20-year-old guys (that’s what mid-life crises are there for, haha!).

The conclusion over the years has become that it’s not at all dangerous to grow old. Like I wrote around my 27th birthday; turning 21, 23 and 29 actually feels surprisingly similar. My suspicion? It will continue like that. Until I reach the ‘golden age.’ A concept referring to the year when you feel like you’re peaking. It’s something I’ve talked to my grandmother about. She doesn’t feel 80; her clock sort of stopped working around 37. That must have been her best year – handy for her to stop her conception of time then. I am yet to reach my golden age, but I do feel that it’s going in that direction. Every year, I feel a little bit wiser, more rounded, more at peace with myself. A tiny improvement, year over year.

avene Ysthéal, ROckpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand

BUT. Let’s be fair; my grandmother doesn’t look 37. And even though I feel more or less 19 (minus the insecurities), I am aware that I don’t look it. It’s been a while since someone asked for my ID.

My body is changing, as is my face, and it will continue that way. Also when I’m on the other side of 37 golden summers. And I feel totally calm about that! Despite what we’ve been told on tv and film for ages.

Because, great looks have always been a powerful currency, and lots of people define good looks as a youthful appearance – for women, at least, right? We all know the songs of beautiful young girls (increasingly picked on by the public for their focus, to be fair, haha!). George Clooney was cast as ‘the sexy older guy’ with a wink in his eyes in the Nespresso commercials, but how often do we see female actors in the same age group cast in the same type of roles? 

The focus has always been on women to stay youthful, tight, smooth, and this has been achievable if you paid for it. If only we buy/eat/apply… All the way back to the 1930s and ’40s, Palmolive ran a series of commercials combating middle-aged skin, which could result in something as sad as women without dates in the calendar or the wife, who loses love – unless they start applying intensive means of care (link here). A middle-aged appearance, as opposed to a youthful one, will scare Cupid away. And who are we if no man wants us?

ANTI-AGEING to the rescue!

avene Ysthéal, ROckpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand

Man! So many resources have been thrown at anti-ageing products through the ages. And just as many into the marketing of these. It was almost kind of scary to open a women’s magazine in the ’90s and ’00s and spotting an ad for a cream for the 40+ segment. It almost sounded military-like! Creams, which became the right weapon in a battle that women had to enter to tackle the problems arising with an ageing appearance (and, God forbid; less lusting looks in our direction).

The thing about ageing, however, is that it’s a fight we’re deemed to ‘lose.’ Despite the artistic attempts, we can’t stop time from going. We are gonna age. No reason to frown at that. And in order not to deem all of us losers in advance, the beauty industry has progressed into talking about pro-age. Yay! The beauty magazine Allure are so serious about it that they decided to remove the term ‘anti-age’ from their magazine vocabulary last year, because ‘if we want to change our view of age and ageing, we need to start with the way in which we talk about it.’ And then they decided to feature a 73-year-old Helen Mirren on their front cover. Cool cat!

I think that’s more appropriate, Mirren as well as stopping the rhetoric against ageing. That turns beauty into a more versatile thing, just as it ought to be. Anti-ageing, no, sweet girl; pro-ageing! That’s just the best! Growing older is the best! I say that already now, but my grandmother, who’s got 55 years on me, chimes in. And she’s worth listening to.

It would be refreshing to continue the good style; making beauty an even more approachable thing. All shapes, colours – and also including age. Starting small, I make sure to applaud Adam for the grey glimpses in his hair every day – grey hair; a sign of ageing, yes, but a beautiful one! (And then I hope I’ll continue the praise once I start discovering the grey hairs in my own mane).

The beauty industry talks about Slow Age, Longevity or Better Age in their campaigns and product lines. ‘Anti’ is disappearing. Avène refer to better ageing on their instagram. Which I really like. Rather than purely targeting the skin, it speaks of several levels of self-care.

Are you buying it? The talk of better ageing rather than anti-ageing? Do rhetorics make a difference to you?

I am aware that there’s a lot of focus on semantics in all of this, but now that we can’t stop time from moving, yet are able to make it move a bit nicer, I do think we might as well embrace this fact linguistically as well. It doesn’t make sense to talk against ageing, as if it’s best to be avoided, when it’s as certain as the sunrise. And, generally, we do have to regard the older part of the population as a gift (we might as well; it’s growing – WHO suggests that the world will be home to more 65-year-olds than 14-year-olds in 2050 – a bit of age is the new black).

If we were to make a drastic move and not take about age as a factor whatsoever, it could be an idea to approach the subject of skincare with numbers, 1-4, for instance. Like with diapers, haha! That way, you sort of just advance through the number/product groups as you grow older and need a bit more juice in your products. Because, yes, it does take a bit more external potency from beauty products when you’re 40 rather than 14, in order for the skin to remain smooth and glowing.

Semantics aside; ‘anti-wrinkle-pro-slo-better-age’-products are highly efficient, concentrated products, which help the skin reach its highest glow potential. I don’t deny that. It’s a waste of money when your skin is young and beautiful (as the potent products typically cost more than the purely moisturising ones – given the extra substance), as you don’t need the efficient stuff at this stage. But the ‘old’ perfume ladies in the airport, back when I worked there, taught me that from the age of 30, approximately, most people will benefit from having a bit of extra juice in their skincare products. The older you get, the more juice. It’s my time! It’s time for me to start adjusting my beauty routines.

At my age, it’s appropriate to start off with the YsthéAl-series from Avène, for instance a good serum, able to exfoliate, tighten up and apply some glow. And then a good moisturiser, in order to avoid too many dry lines, which might develop into wrinkles. I’d much rather obtain my wrinkles from big laughs over several coming years than from dried out skin! Incidentally, those are the ones I’m starting to see. Lines around my mouth, which appear in wide smiles. And a few crow’s feet around my eyes. And then I get one across the bridge of my nose, from one eyebrow to the other, almost. I wouldn’t mind giving up those, but you can’t just pick and choose like that.

Are you starting to adjust your beauty routines as you grow older?

avene Ysthéal, ROckpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand

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