Saturday, October 07, 2006


So it's Saturday night/Sunday morning, and I should be doing my three, I mean four step (now that Dermalogica have invented that damn pre-cleanse stuff) routine, but I'm sitting here with chipped nail polish, drinking a coke Zero, and thinking of all the shit from this week.

First off, I had my false nails (see above) removed. This was not an easy decision I'll tell you. But everyone was banging on about how it's bad to have them on for too long, and your natural nails take strain, and they become really weak etc.

Well duh, my natural nails are weak which is why I had fake ones put on in the first place. But add a shed-load of chemicals to melt the fake stuff off, and it's going to weaken anyone's nails. I think that's it - it's not having them on that does the damage, it's taking them off.

So I'm all natural again, but I've had to cut them right down to the wick because they were just paper thin. And despite painting them black-red to cheer myself up, they just aren't the beautiful talons they were before. I feel as though I've had all my hair cut off. Even my Vietnamese nail technicians, Lyn and Jan, looked positively mortified when I told them I wanted them removed. I had to explain it was only a temporary move, and I'd be back - and by the looks of things, this may be sooner rather than later.

Still, there are more important things in life than having beautifully groomed nails, and did anyone else catch that episode of Extreme Makeover tonight, with Jade Goody's mum? Jackiey looked absolutely stunning in her reveal, and I was genuinely happy for her.

I used to like watching Extreme Makeover a lot, but then I heard my mom talk about it, and it made me realise it also has a rather adverse affect on older women, making them question their looks and become self-conscious. Now I've always thought that cosmetic surgery for someone like Jackiey, who had a lot of structural damage to her features due to a motorbike accident, and similarly for people who have experienced an illness or accident that has damaged their features, as a brilliant thing. Similarly, I'm all for self-improvement; new clothes, personal grooming, hair & makeup, a bit of exercise - that sort of thing. But what does concern me, is the psychological anti-ageing aspect of cosmetic surgery. With all this reversal of ageing stuff, at what point do we draw the line and let ourselves age gracefully? And are women (and an increasing number of men) even allowed to grow old gracefully any more?

I think, like a lot of women her age, my mom (who is 61) watches that programme and starts thinking that maybe she too should start considering a brow lift or Botox etc, and I look at her and think she looks beautiful - not just for her age, but just beautiful. When you see how some of these women ruin their faces with excessive fillers and surgery you think - jeez, why not just use a good moisturizer, stay out of the sun, quit the fags, and wear makeup? I don't know, maybe when I get to that age I'll see things differently, but it scares me that there are these increasingly higher expectations of beauty. When do we get to relax and stop worrying about it all? From since I can remember, my mom always used to say you should never ‘let yourself go’. I’m not sure exactly what she meant by this, but the way she said it made it sound frightening – a no turning back state of affairs. The kind of thing marriages end over. But what’s the alternative – holding on to some impossible idea of eternal youth by your (weak natural) fingernails?

My idea of an attractive older woman are some of the Italian and French women you see: great hair, good skin (frequent facials and a rigorous beauty routine no doubt), and just a touch of well-applied makeup. And of course, a well cut (age appropriate) outfit. They look beautifully (and often effortlessly) put-together, elegant, and attractive, without looking pinched, pulled, and bizarrely youthful. It's about looking after and making the most of what you've got, which I think my mom achieves. It pains me to think that these sorts of programmes have her doubting herself.

As much as Dove has started this great campaign for real beauty - focusing on more realistic womanly curves, I think they should also focus on older women who are attractive by virtue of those lovely laugh and expression lines, their wisdom and experience, and who make the most of what they've got without going under the knife. We need to make it acceptable and more so, enviable, to grow old gracefully and emphasise that you can still look gorgeous without aspiring to look like a 25-year-old.

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