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    A Celebration of Wrinkles

    By Jan Andersen     

    A short while ago, my partner and I were watching a rather graphic documentary about cosmetic surgery, which covered the individual profiles of four people who had chosen to put their faces and bodies at the disposal of a plastic surgeon and his knives. As we watch the slicing, the sucking, the tugging and the stapling, my partner said, “Why would anyone want to go to such drastic lengths to have all the character removed from their face?” I think it is important to mention here that my partner is just 30 years old and I am 42. I have twelve years’ more wear and tear in my face and the lines around my eyes to indicate that I have endured the stresses and strains of life by laughing in the face of adversity. My partner lovingly tells me that every line, freckle and feature, whether or not I consider it to be a flaw, contributes towards making me who I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve done. To erase those characteristics would be like editing my life and removing the memories and experiences, both good and bad that have been etched on my face.

    Who was it that first decided that young and smooth was more beautiful than mature and furrowed? The wisdom of maturity can be just as attractive as the innocence of youth and the number of wrinkles that you have doesn’t always reveal your age. It’s all a matter of attitude. I recently met a woman who had had a face-lift, together with a few nips and tucks here and there. Whilst I don’t deny that she was attractive, her face was expressionless and reminded me of that of an inanimate shop mannequin’s glossy, untarnished surface, but with a total absence of personality. Despite the lack of creases and slack skin, however, she didn’t look younger than her years. In fact, I was surprised when she revealed her age, because I was under the impression that she was older. My grandmother, on the other hand, was one of those fair-skinned types, like myself, whose skin was not as resilient as some and yet although her face was deeply lined, she still looked twenty years’ younger. She was vibrant and energetic, with a childlike outlook, a wicked sense of humour and the gait of someone in their thirties.

    Were it not for the media insensitively setting the definition of beauty and the framework for acceptability, a lot more people would be happy to grow old gracefully and welcome each new wrinkle with dignity and delight.

    Many years ago, I remember watching a particularly unsettling episode of The Twilight Zone entitled, “The Eye Of The Beholder”, where a beautiful girl (at least what we would perceive to be beautiful) lived in a world inhabited by people with pig-like faces. They were regarded as normal, whereas she was branded as “ugly” and a “freak”, which caused her to embark on a series of surgical operations to change her face so that she would fit into their society. When the operations failed, she was banished to an outcast village to live with others of her kind.

    The above story may seem extreme and yet many women and men resort to radical measures to enhance their appearance, seek approval and consequently feel more valued by modern-day society. If wrinkles and maturity were suddenly in-vogue, would plastic surgeons be inundated with demands for lines to be carved into faces and necks and eager requests for jawline implants to give the drooping jowl effect? Would everyone roast themselves in the sun without caution and wash their faces in detergent to help promote aged, leathery skin?

    Of course, the reason that ageism continues is, firstly, because the ageist members of our society are those who don’t belong to the age group against which they are discriminating and, secondly, because the media haven’t yet cottoned on to the fact that maturity and wrinkles can equate to beauty and desirability. After all, the most beautiful homes and the most beautiful scenery inevitably have character. Compare the blank canvas of a fresh, magnolia-painted house to a period cottage, with nooks, crannies and higgledy-piggledy beams and you tell me which one has more character. Look at the pure, but empty expanse of the Antarctic and then view a craggy mountain range on the continent and think about which scene you would like to view on a long-term basis.

    Isn’t it about time that people were viewed in the same way? Instead of dreading the ageing process, we could all look forward to growing more beautiful with each passing year and to greeting each new line, blemish, or mole as a beauty-enhancing feature, rather than an unattractive sign of moving from youth through to antiquity.

    Written by Jan AndersenRate this article:

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