Denise O’Neill: Let’s Celebrate Getting Older

Let’s celebrate getting older – it’s a normal part of living!

What is happening to the human species?

Is there a human disease or illness called ‘ageing’, a condition that must be eradicated at all costs? How do we cure this horrible disease/illness? Never fear—we have been informed that there are many treatments available to eliminate and prevent it happening to us: face/neck lift, brow lift, eye bag removal, fillers, Botox injections, micro dermabrasion, laser treatment, chemical peel, lip plumping and, not forgetting, lotions and creams. So we are OK and all is well with the world.

But, wait a minute … isn’t ageing a normal and natural process? We all get wrinkles, jowls, laughter lines, baggy eyes, etc, as time goes on. We all age differently depending on our genes, sun or cold weather exposure, lack of sleep, cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol, stress and illness. But, we all age—a fact of life.

Let’s look at faces and how we perceive ourselves. When we study ourselves in the mirror or look at photographs what we see are two-dimensional images and we tend to judge ourselves quite harshly. All we see are the lines, blemishes and loose and saggy skin. But, we don’t see ourselves the way others see us. We don’t see the three-dimensional, all-encompassing us—our characteristics, our movements, how we communicate. We communicate with our faces more than we ever realise to show all sorts of emotions including happiness, love, elation, shock, worry and sadness. When we fill the lines and wrinkles and tighten up the sagging skin, we take away the facial communication. Faces become puffed, frozen, expressionless, alien-like and that special factor unique to each one of us, known as character, disappears.

So, we have a situation now in society where we have been brainwashed into thinking that we must strive to look young in order to be happy and successful. We are bombarded with images in all forms of media that have been ‘photoshopped’ to the max. What we see are not real images of real people. This is leading to many opting for the ‘cures’ stated above which is a growing and, in my view, a worrying trend. And, what is more worrying is the fact that younger people are having ‘work’ done.

What angers me is that many in the booming cosmetic procedures industry are making mega bucks from people falling for their promises that life will be wonderful if they were to look 10 years younger. And, for those who pretend not to have had procedures, we are not fools—we can tell who has had work done. It’s as plain as the nose on your face (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun). We also don’t know, from a medical and psychological point of view, what the long-term effects of these procedures are.

If people wish to avail of the processes to eliminate the signs of ageing, that is their choice. But what we really need is a revolution that says ageing is positive. We need a change of mind-set to get back to celebrating the beauty of getting older. Let’s see images in the media of real people, with real wrinkles, jowls and laughter lines. Our faces belong to each of us and the characteristics we have developed are evidence that we have lived, that we are continuing to evolve, that we are wiser, and that life is good to the very end.

I am also passionate about grey as a choice for women but that is another story…Check out

Photo by Catherine McIlkenny.

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