Pictures of the German supermodel Heidi Klum, transformed by a Hollywood makeup artist into a sixtysomething woman for her Halloween party, prompted me to wonder:
Is she sending up her own image?
A) Is she cleverly sending up her own perfect image with the hidden message ‘hey guys, I’m only human, one day I’ll look like this’?
B) Is she so terrified of ageing that the scariest thing she can imagine for a spooky Halloween party is to be a pensioner?
While I’d like to think that the answer is A) and that Heidi was having a giggle at the expense of an industry that has paid her millions of dollars simply because she was born with an attractive face and body, I fear that the real answer may be B) …
Hundreds of years ago, you only knew what people looked like if you had met them in person. Now, with the advent of the digital age, our images have the potential to be seen by millions. Partly as a result of this, we have become obsessed with appearance, and specifically female appearance, although men are fast catching up in terms of anxiety about their looks.
We have become addicted to trying to control our appearance
Beauty has long been associated with youth, so it stands to reason that the more we focus on outward appearance as a society, the more youth will be seen as desirable and age will be discounted or even vilified. It is a ridiculous situation. Logic will tell even the most looks-obsessed teenager that this not a route to happiness or a rewarding life. But it feels like we have become addicted to trying to control our appearance in order to win the admiration of others.
Three steps to reverse your attitude to ageing
If the thought of looking old fills you with fear and anxiety, try these three steps to reverse your attitude:
1. Consider the things that you feel proudest of in your life. Are any of these connected with the way that you look? (Probably not.)
2. Think of someone you love or think highly of over the age of 70. Have the wrinkles on their face or their physical decline diminished your feelings for them? (If they have, then you may like to consider counselling to find out why this is the case.)
3. Find an older role model – someone whose achievements you admire, and research how they have lived their life. Details of a life well lived are always a far more inspiring read than the inside track on someone’s beauty routine.