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Yes, I Am Anti Anti-Ageing

By Patsy Trench April 06, 2024 Lifestyle

I was having a discussion the other day with a friend about who we admired most among women of a certain age. When she mentioned a couple of Hollywood film stars the conversation became suddenly heated. I don’t know who of the two of us was most surprised at my vehement objection.

“What’s your problem?” she asked.

“Why would you admire women like that?” I said.

“Because they look amazing. They look twenty years younger than they are.”

“So what?”

“What do you mean, so what? Wouldn’t you like to look twenty years younger than you are?”

“No, I would not!”

“I don’t believe you.”

And so on.

The truth is, I don’t want to look 20 years younger than I am if it means my skin is pulled so tight I can barely smile. But more importantly than that, my objection to ‘having work done’ runs much deeper, because it suggests that ageing is something to be avoided, denied and reviled, like a disease.

Why Is the Term ‘Anti-Ageing’ So Ubiquitous?

It’s almost impossible nowadays to buy a face cream that isn’t ‘anti-ageing’. “Proven to reduce the effect of wrinkles” is a slogan that is not only meaningless and impossible to prove, it’s a direct onslaught on the totally natural effects of living into old age, and don’t we all want to do that?

What’s Wrong with Wrinkles Anyway?

Don’t they add character to a face? I love it when an old person smiles, and their face falls into creases. A wrinkled face is a fascinating face, it tells us so much about the person. It tells the world, ‘I have lived, I have seen things and done things’ and, perhaps most importantly in my judgmental mind, it does not suggest vanity.

I Admit I’m Flattered When People Tell Me I Don’t Look My Age

So, I am vain too, and duly ashamed of it. But even if I had the wherewithal, the very last thing I would consider doing is having a face-lift, or indulging in pricey cosmetics that claim to restore elastin or erase the odd freckle. I’m not being puritanical, it just seems counter-intuitive; and besides, you’re less likely to be offered a seat on public transport if you look that much younger than you are.

Even Young Women Are Having Work Done These Days

And goodness knows what the long-term effects of botox or face-lifting will be. But such is the power of the anti-ageing lobby it’s affecting women in their 20s and 30s, for heaven’s sake.

But back to my discussion with my friend. In my view, there are plenty of other women who deserve our admiration, women such as the late Shirley Williams – politician, humanitarian, a highly compassionate woman with great insight and a knack for seeing every side of a question (which is why she never became Prime Minister) – but who gave not a thought to what she looked like.

Women like Joan Bakewell, broadcaster and writer, and actresses such as Sian Phillips and Sheila Hancock, all three of them now 90 and still lively, sharp, and engaged and concerned about what’s happening in the world around them. These are all Englishwomen of course, but I’m sure their equivalents exist in any country.

This Is Not So Much a Celebration of Old Age

This is my acknowledgment of the fact that, approaching 80, there may be many things I can no longer do, such as run any distance, or take the stairs two at a time, or bend my knees beyond a certain point. But on the other hand, I am extremely grateful for not having to worry about my looks.

Yes, I have my hair carefully cut (but no longer coloured) and yes, I wear makeup and take trouble over which aged items of my wardrobe I wear from day to day, but that’s where it ends. If my hair goes frizzy from the rain, or flattened because I’ve been wearing a hat, who cares? And above all, who will notice? There are advantages to being invisible, are there not?

If you were to ask me whom I would admire more out of, say, Ursula le Guin or any of those well-known, artificially pert-faced octogenarians who still grace our film and television screens (but whom I cannot name for legal reasons), I know what my answer would be.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you anti anti-aging? Is there a role model you follow who is of the same opinion as you? Do you think wrinkles are bad, and we should aim to get rid of them? What does your age mean to you, personally?

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Carol Bain

Yes I too am glad that I’ve never been able to afford surgery. Some of the results I have seen are scary! Good health is more important to looking out best version as we get older.


I love love love this article!

Debra Maslov

Bravo! I cannot agree more. I find the women who accept their aging faces naturally so much more beautiful than those who go under the knife & no longer look like themselves. Why focus on just the artificial? If only the elderly were respected for their age & wisdom in Western countries as much as they are in other cultures.


I feel this is an important viewpoint and I feel Woman must be comfortable in their bodies whether wrinkled or not. Old age needs to be celebrated and one should not place value on whether you have wrinkly skin or not.

Marin Shanley

Just YES! Thank you, Patsy Trench! I have (barely) survived two cancers and am so very grateful to be alive and healthy. My experiences and years have given me much wisdom, as well as a genuine sense of equanimity. These are the fruits of aging and should be celebrated. Let’s keep on acquiring our wrinkles…they are our battle scars!!

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The Author

Patsy Trench has been an actress, scriptwriter, theatre tour organiser and theatre teacher and lecturer. She now writes books about her family history in colonial Australia and novels featuring enterprising women breaking boundaries in Edwardian and 1920s England. She lives in London.

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