“Wow. You’re really looking old,” says a voice in my head as I stare into the bathroom mirror. It’s a voice I hear every morning, shortly before I gaze wistfully at the old photos on my wall and wonder why I couldn’t have been frozen in 21-year-old form for the rest of my life. Then another voice chimes in with, “And why do you care? You’re 31, not 21. Wear that neck wattle with pride!”
Yup, I’m ageing gracefully, I tell myself, which is all about grinning and bearing it (with a dollop of Elizabeth Arden Eight-Hour Cream, of course). Or is it? A poll by www.mycelebrityfashion.co.uk has thrown that theory out of the window because according to the survey of more than 1,300 people, Demi Moore (of all people), is the celebrity we think is ageing most gracefully.
I did a bit of a double take when I read that one. Don’t get me wrong. Demi looks spectacular for 50, but don’t her alleged engagements with knives and needles mean she’s the very antitheses of ageing gracefully? Absolutely – if you believe that ageing gracefully and ageing naturally are mutually exclusive.
And there is the shift in opinion. In my experience, whenever one touches on the topic of cosmetic procedures – be it a jab of Botox, a chemical peel or a full-on facelift – people tend to fall into one of two camps. The antis and the pros. One journalist friend of mine gets a giggle out of stretching her face back with her hands (her impression of what people who’ve had facelifts look like), while another, who is part of the abolish-Botox brigade, gets incredibly heated with anyone who’s so much as been in the same room as a cosmetic needle. “Nothing says ‘beauty’ like a syringe full of poison,” she proclaims angrily.
At the same time I have lots of friends who talk quite openly about the procedures they’ve undergone and see no shame in delaying the ageing process with a trip to their cosmetic surgeon. Previously these folk would have operated under a shroud of secrecy but, like it or not, these days we’re all becoming more relaxed about cosmetic procedures, as the survey shows.
Where do I stand? Well, I will confess to have mocked celebrities who appeared a little too static in the expression department. But now that I’m looking at Demi, who some say has had up to $200,000 (Dh734,600) worth of surgery and looks more youthful than any 50-year-old I know, I’m wondering if I’ve been barking up the wrong tree.
While my fear of knives (and having my face cut open) precludes me from ever considering a facelift, I’m a lot more blasé about Botox than I used to be and will readily admit to considering having collagen fillers in my lips (which have lost their youthful plump), and restylane fillers for my cheeks (which could do with a bit of perking up).
I opened up this debate with my husband, who of course thinks the whole thing is ludicrous. But then he would. He doesn’t look like he fell asleep on a scrunched up tea towel and, even if he did, he would look handsome (rather than haggard) with a few fine lines.
“How will I know I’ve done something wrong if I can’t see your frown lines?” he said wryly as I stood at the mirror poking a vertical line between my eyebrows and trying to persuade him to pay for Botox for my next birthday.
It’s a valid point, but if having to inform my husband that I’m glowering at him for leaving the toilet seat up is the only drawback of a wrinkle-free face, bring it on!
So then what’s stopping me? I guess I’m a little nostalgic. You see, after giving it some thought, I’ve become quite attached to my lines. They tell the story of my life. That girls’ holiday I took to Marbella when I ‘forgot’ to wear sunscreen; scrunching up my eyes for weeks on end as I bawled about a university boyfriend who broke my heart; laughing incessantly at my best friend’s jokes; smiling non-stop for a month after my husband proposed.
Whether good or bad, these lines are the map of my life. While I certainly mourn for the youthful glow of that 21-year-old on my wall, I’m not quite sure I’m ready to rewrite history and say ta-ta to the 31-year-old me, just yet.