Ageing well, feeling well

Judith Wills / 10 October 2014

Judith Wills wonders why we place such importance on looking young.



Is it a sin to allow oneself to grow old naturally, shunning all bodily artifice – make-up, fake colourings, expensively cropped haircuts, cosmetic treatments and the like? Is it a sin, even, to allow a few rolls of fat here and there as one gets older – as long as it's kind of moderate and non-health threatening fat?

Well of course it isn't. And that's why I love Mary Beard. She believes that it is not a sin to look old, and I agree with her – why should we be judged if we don't join the make-up, high-fashion, botox, health spa, etc. bandwagon to ward off the perceived 'ravages of time'?

And, at the recent Cheltenham book festival Mary Beard asked, why do we compliment someone if they don't look their age? What is wrong with looking your age? she ranted, in a mild mannered kind of way. She reckons a lot of 50-something women actually positively like looking their age. I reckon she's right – many older women increasingly feel pressured to 'do something' about the natural signs of ageing such as wrinkles, greying hair, sagging flesh and so forth, but without the pressure, would really prefer just to be themselves.

Actually – what IS nicer than being yourself? Why do you want to be something other than what you are, at this time in your life? She's right, isn't she? And taking the process to its conclusion, to a time when every women (for, though she doesn't say so, Mary Beard IS mostly talking about women) over the age of 35 spends all her money and almost every last minute on making herself look younger and 'prettier' – if you think foundation and red lipstick and eyeliner and the works do make older women look prettier - than she is, then everyone will look younger and prettier, and everyone will then have to try even harder, so no-one wins, except the ever-richer people providing all the expensive wherewithall to achieve this dubious victory over our ageing selves.

As I've said before, or if I haven't, I should have – how you look is not important unless you let it be important. It's how you feel that matters. And if feeling good, for you, depends on artifice and dubious compliments, then perhaps it is time to question why you need that.

Since I became allergic to most cosmetics and chemically-perfumed products a few years ago, I often go out make-up free and I can't say I've noticed people shunning me because of it. It's fine, folks, it really is!

All that said, I still think Mary could do with a haircut. Not expensive – I'd do it myself for her. Just four inches or so. Just saying.

By the way, when I moaned and groaned last time about my debilitating bad back, I had no idea it was Back Care Awareness Week this week! How very ironic.

During the week, I've had several press releases about back books, back specialists and the like. Apparently the idea that back pain can often be caused by emotional stress is gaining momentum amongst the cognoscenti.

I am only partly drawn by this idea – it does seem obvious that muscle tension (which is often caused by stress) will make back pain worse or even help to cause it, but it seems even more obvious that, as I said last week, lack of exercise, long hours sitting, and overweight are the major culprits, especially in older people.

The good news is that a week has seen a 20% or so improvement for me, which is brilliant – if it keeps on like this, in a few weeks I will be back to normal. And if I'm lucky enough for that to happen, believe me I will NOT be slumping and idling all day again, EVER.

Ate last night:

ApplesNow this will sound mad, but I've lost my appetite. Yes, really! ME! All the things I used to love cooking no longer excite me at all. I dish up food for us and can eat only a few mouthfuls. I hope, and daresay, this will change back again soon, but meanwhile the only things I enoy are fruity yogurty kinds of stuff, so it's lucky that the last of our Bramley cooking apples are still clinging to the trees and the rest are stored in boxes or the freezer. It's been apple crumbles with Greek yogurt week for me, this week.

I've never seen such huge apples in our little orchard as we had this year. The crop was small in number but what we did get was large. I had to take a photo.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.