Ageing – is it just us girls that dread it?

Posted on: 6th March, 2014

Category: Image

Contributor: Louise O'Dwyer

We are all attached to our ‘youthful looks’ and everybody is somewhat fearful of ageing — to a varying degree. What I am seeing over and over again is a state of confusion between ageing and maturity. Why is it that so many people look at getting older as a negative experience? Why is it that so many people assume that getting older means that you are allowed to be grumpy, lack enthusiasm and fade away? What about all the invaluable lessons learned through adolescence, the personality shaping through the 20’s, the confidence gained over 30 and so on? When are you old? Who decides? At the rate this country is going you will still be expected to work until you are over 80, so does that mean that ‘old’ is flexible?

There are many little boys in men’s bodies, and little girls in women’s bodies and YIPPEE for that. Who says that any of us have to get old? It’s a mindset, a sense of conditioning and a belief that young means powerful and old means ‘past tense’. So how do we overcome this ‘psychological stuckness’? What messages are we receiving on a day-to-day basis that can sway us one way or the other? Well, our concept of what is attractive and what we should look like comes from the mass media and successful marketing. You are supposed to be blessed with beauty and physical perfection, or else you are supposed to buy the products that will help you to attain it. The media plays a crucial role in the development of your image and your attitude towards ageing.

We all have a great respect for television, film, newspapers and magazines and we appreciate the educational and entertainment benefits of all forms of the media. Let me be clear that the media’s number one priority is to hold our attention and it does so by informing, entertaining, thrilling and exciting us. If the media is your only standard for your personal and physical self-image, you are setting yourself up for a huge disappointment — you cannot and will not be self referred when it comes to developing your attitude towards your image and your age.

Yes, this is a very unkind age to be in the public eye and who is setting the standard when it comes to young and beautiful and perfect? Is it the celebrities or is it ‘us’? Are we ever so quick to criticise their bodies, their wrinkles or weight gain? Are we making unrealistic demands when it comes to what celebrities ‘should’ look like? Yes, of course we are at fault but the media have manipulated our consciousness for as long as anyone can remember. Imagine an alien race studying our existence; looking at one section of the world where masses are dying of starvation and another section where people are choosing to ‘run’ the fat off of themselves (and I mean to a disgustingly skinny state). Have you ever thought about that?

Am I hung up on all of this because my birthday is coming up? Am I terrified about getting older? Undoubtedly ageing tends to bring more doctors check-ups and illness but I welcome it because I am one of those ‘little girls’ in a woman’s body. I am still playing dress up and enjoying every minute of it, even though I have wrinkles and blond hair that covers the grey! I have to be honest and admit that the only time that I feel old is when I am doing something online that needs my date of birth and it seems to take forever to scroll back to 1972! I laugh at that though, maybe I need a reminder every so often of what my actual age is.

Almost every woman on television seems more beautiful, more perfect than just a few short years ago. Every man has an almost nonchalant handsomeness, as if he’s really not trying very hard to look so good — with his perfect teeth, hair and skin! And it also appears as if no one ages. Oscar Wilde explored this perfectly in Dorian Grey but he also delved into the very dark side that comes along with it.

The expectations for men these days are also higher, contrary to most people’s beliefs, it is not only women who hate their bodies or fear what ageing will do to how they look, men suffer too, albeit mostly silently. Many men feel that they are not supposed to be concerned with their looks but others feel that having a negative body image threatens their masculinity. This is what men are told about how they ‘should’ look; men are supposed to be tall, have broad shoulders, a muscular chest and biceps, a small tight bottom, a 30 inch waist, strong facial features and a full head of hair. Now girls, swallow all of that! They have it just as hard as we do. It has caused many men to jeopardise their health with steroid abuse and excessive exercise. More than ever before men are seeking cosmetic surgery, hair transplants, chest implants, liposuction and face-lifts. All of the men the media push to the forefront send the message loud and clear that ‘I ‘must’ be physically attractive in order to succeed’.

Men and women compare themselves with media images and try desperately to keep up with the pace. But others of you rebel. You are the defiant ones. You intentionally distance yourself from as many of the media’s messages, you believe there is nothing out there worthy of your attention. You feel that you don’t have the time, money or the desire to achieve the look you are told is ‘in’. You dress and groom according to what makes you feel good, as if you are marching to the beat of your own drum. But you do care. In fact, you are potentially the ‘most stylish’ of all people. You listen to your personal style voice and as a result look amazing, you never think about your age or buy products associated with fighting time and as a result your skin looks incredible and it really is that simple. Listen to the voice inside, feel your two feet planted firmly on the ground and take your rightful position in this world and forget about how you ‘should’ look. This is why I love the Boxer breed so very much —they never age mentally, always and ever a puppy. Our Buzz is ancient now but he runs around the garden with Sean (a giant snow white husky) as if he was a puppy. Look to the animals, they will teach you how to live and how to really enjoy life.

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