My Mother’s Approach to Ageing Stopped Me From Wanting Tweakments

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As a beauty editor for much of my career, I have spent the majority of my adult life writing about how you can look and feel better. I’ve always maintained beauty is neither a superficial or vanity issue, but instead it should be about self-care. There is a lot of positivity in taking care of yourself and it extends further than your reflection in the mirror. This is why I may have an eight-step skincare routine, which I find soothing. And yet, I have opted away from having any tweakments and you will see me, more often than not, wearing minimal to zero make-up.

However, this outlook predates my career choice and is completely down to my mum and nana’s approach to beauty and, indeed, ageing as a whole. For as long as I can remember they have both had weekly blow dries and nail appointments, which on the surface may look like high-maintenance beauty habits, but in reality it was about so much more to them than the superficial. For them both it was an hour or so out of their week dedicated to just them. Not looking after their family, or their job. It gave them an outlet to escape from the mundane, and take the time to feel better about themselves. Sure, appearance does factor into it, a blow dry can boost anyone’s confidence, but that wasn’t the motivation. It also was never about looking younger.

Image Source: Lauren Ezekiel

This positive aging approach is a massive part of my family ethos. The day you forget growing old is a privilege is the day you lose sight of what it means to live. And if that includes a few crows feet and frown lines, so be it? Our faces tell our stories, and if we all fight those stories then we lose our individuality. I look at my nana, 87, who recently celebrated beating lung cancer with a girls’ holiday to Tenerife and feel immense pride. Not only to have such a strong female influence in my life, but also someone who shows that you can embrace your age, rather than always try to rewind the clock or look younger.

The day you forget growing old is a privilege is the day you lose sight of what it means to live.

I grew up with people constantly telling me how beautiful my mum was, and how stylish and incredible my nana always looks. Yet, they both carried themselves without an ounce of arrogance. My mum recently said to me, “I wish I had known how attractive I was growing up. I may have taken advantage of it a bit more!” However, I believe that is the answer to why she was so attractive. Her appearance never felt intimidating, it was appreciated by both men and women and was subtle. The original girl next door. It’s something she instilled in me. She never told me I was better or more attractive than anyone else, but the lack of negative talk in my house instilled a positive attitude to how I look. There are some times I look in the mirror and like what I see. And there are days when I don’t. But because I have never been taught to base my confidence on looks, or depend on them, I just shrug it off the way my mum and nana have shown me, and get on with it.

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I also watched them both age. I saw how their skin changed, I saw how a few lines have turned into more. As hair has gone from blonde to grey I have watched them get on with what society describes as ‘imperfections’ as part and parcel of their life, not as issues that need to be fixed. Many times we have all joked about how old you feel in your head, before you catch your reflection in the mirror and the person looking back at you is about 20 years older. But once you change the narrative in your head that this is lucky, not a curse, then it helps you accept the saggy skin a bit easier. My nana lost her best friend at 46, and she will often say how long it took her to get over it – I don’t know if this is one of the reasons she continues to make the most out of every day or it’s just her personality, but I’m thankful to have such a role model in my life as my own decades start to roll by.

This attitude is something I’m also keen to show my daughter. I recently took her for acting headshots and the photographer commented on her distinctive looks. Afterwards she asked me if distinctiveness was a good thing or not? I told her it’s the best thing. If you have one life, why wouldn’t you want to look like you in it? She also mentioned her unibrow and said, “Is it beautiful or ugly?” I replied that it’s our imperfections that make us beautiful. She seemed quite satisfied with my response, which may seem quite harsh, but I refuse to try and pretend a unibrow is ‘perfect’. I wanted to make the point that imperfections are ok, because this is the attitude I want her to have if, or more like when, someone tries to use it against her. In my experience bullies don’t like confidence and they especially don’t like if you can pick out your own weaknesses or imperfections.

However, this doesn’t mean I hold back on telling her she looks beautiful. I know there is a lot of emphasis in parenting to not focus on looks, but I also believe that if we want our children to have confidence and feel beautiful, we also need to tell them so. Who decided the beauty standards anyway? As long as you don’t only focus on looks, which I absolutely do not, then why shouldn’t girls be allowed to feel pretty without caveats? Maybe if we do this a bit more people won’t constantly look for fixes or tweakments to hide their imperfections or signs of ageing. We can only hope. . .

Lauren Ezekiel is an associate editor at POPSUGAR UK, where she writes about all things beauty and wellness. With a degree in journalism and 12 years’ experience as a beauty editor at a leading Sunday supplement, she is obsessed with skincare, hair and makeup, and is often found offering advice to innocent bystanders. Her work has been published in Grazia, OK, Health and Beauty, The Sun, ASDA, Dare and Metro.

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