Have We All Grown Out Of Growing Old Gracefully?
We’ve all known the importance of good skincare for quite a while, spending increasing amounts of our hard-earned cash on the latest wonder cream promising to turn back time. We cling to our bottles of water, refilling them regularly to ensure we get our requisite three litres a day, and we never go out in the desert sun without our SPFs. But how far does your beauty regime really go?
Perhaps you’ve never been under the knife but are now hearing the persistent siren call of the syringe. Be honest, how much time do you really spend staring into the mirror, despairing over dark patches, agonising over enlarged pores and pulling at your creeping crow’s feet?
Fountain of youth
It’s no wonder we’re all becoming more aggravated by ageing – it increasingly seems to be a preserve of the ordinary woman, while those in Hollywood appear to have unlimited access to a fountain of eternal youth. Sure, there are celebs who are unafraid to admit they’ve had a little help. But while a few defiant plastic fantastics remain – hello Joan Rivers – the stars whose looks we want to emulate rarely admit to going under the surgeon’s knife.
In 2007, Jennifer Aniston, now 43, admitted having a deviated septum fixed but denied she’d had any cosmetic work, saying “As boring as it sounds, it’s still mine. All of it. Still mine.” Meanwhile, after years of insisting she was “completely natural”, court papers pertaining to a libel case in 2005 confirmed Victoria Beckham, 38, had in fact had breast augmentation surgery – a truth she vaguely acknowledged early last year when she told an interviewer she’d had her implants removed, joking, “No torpedo bazookas, either. Gone.”
So if it’s not surgery, what is their secret? Could we all look as good if we had their bottomless bank accounts and access to the world’s top dermatologists, personal trainers, nutritionists, stylists and make-up artists?
Hard work or good genes?
As we obsess over their appearances, for many a star, looking good becomes a full time job. She may be naturally beautiful and deny ever having had surgery, but Kim Kardashian, 31, recently admitted she’d spent weeks of her life undergoing less invasive procedures, including Botox, Fraxel and having “everything lasered”. Meanwhile, when Kate Hudson, 33, debuted her stunning post-baby bod last month, she admitted her return to form was the result of working out for six hours a day. That’s right, six hours a day. Try fitting that regime around your full-time job and family life, normal working mums.
Elsewhere are the women for whom it seems enviously effortless. Lots of water. Lots of sleep. Good skincare. A healthy diet. The mantras of many a stunning star.
Heidi Klum, a 39-year-old mother of four, has taken to tweeting pictures of herself in a bikini, flaunting a form so perfect it could make many a ‘normal’ woman weep. She credits her stunning appearance with taking care of herself in a natural way, and says the secret to looking good at any age is “Don’t be too thin! It is always better to have a little meat on your bones. When you are just muscle, you end up being gaunt in the face, and that makes you look older by five or 10 years.” Which is probably easier to take heed of if your ‘meat’ takes the form of Heidi’s curves than it is when it insists on hanging around as a muffin top.
However, for every all-natural Heidi is a star whose protestations against surgery we simply refuse to believe. Did any of us buy it when, in 2009, a then 46-year-old Demi Moore insisted she’d never had a single surgery? “I don’t like the idea of having an operation to hold up the ageing process – it’s a way to combat your neurosis. The scalpel won’t make you happy.”
Despite going on to admit that “the day when I start crying when I look at myself in the mirror might be the day when I’m less adamant about not having it done,” the star’s fans were unconvinced.
So widespread has public cynicism become, surgery is now assumed in many cases – and not always correctly. The issue hit the spotlight earlier this year when actress Ashley Judd, 44, wrote a furious article decrying the pressure upon women to conform to surgery, after her puffy faced appearance, caused by steroid medication prescribed following a lengthy bout of illness, prompted surgery-gone-wrong rumours. The raging star asked: “Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about?”
With her warning that our obsession is becoming a double-edged sword, Ashley may well be onto something. As celebs like her face such ridicule when they appear to have gone under the knife, others become increasingly unlikely to admit to surgery themselves. As a result, for every Kate Hudson style admission of effort, 50 stars are insisting their youthful appearance is all down to great genes. As such, is it any wonder that many water guzzling, SPF wearing, crow’s feet prodding normal women are wondering if there’s something wrong with them?
‘I’m not afraid to be real about beauty’
MBC star, make-up artist and founder of the Middle East’s Maison de Joelle beauty salons, Joelle Mardinian, 36, believes it’s time to get honest about ageing...
“I couldn’t have achieved what I have if I were any younger so I don’t mind admitting my age. My TV show doesn’t need someone who’s young and inexperienced, so I don’t feel the pressure to look like I’m in my 20s. But I don’t want to wrinkle. It’s a personal thing.
I’ve always been very aware of how I look and I didn’t want to have kids early because I was obsessed with my body and worried what would happen to it. But now I love being a mother, it’s the best thing in my life. And I’m happier with my figure now. Maybe I was more perfect before but now I’m more confident.
I think nowadays it’s so much easier for women to look like they’re in their 20s when they’re in their 40s or 50s. Botox and fillers are more accessible, hair extensions are commonplace, you can have collagen and gold and caviar masks. And I think we’re more aware of our health and diet now too.
But when you live under the cameras, you do feel the pressure. There’s no way, in my opinion, that any of the women we see on screen are totally 100 per cent natural. Why should celebs look good at 50 but not normal women who haven’t had Botox and fillers? They get it done but they get it done right. They’re not addicted to surgery.
If you look at Victoria Beckham, you can’t say it’s completely natural – you don’t remove breast implants, you replace them! It’s a more natural look, but not natural. Gwyneth Paltrow for me is getting it right. She eats so healthily, she exercises every day and she looks great and confident. For a while, Demi Moore looked utterly incredible too, extraordinary for her age, but I think she’s a bit too thin now. Maybe it was the pressure of marrying someone so much younger and feeling like the old one all the time. My husband is five years younger and that’s not too big a pressure, but Demi Moore’s age gap was huge!
I like to be honest about what I do to maintain my look, I think it’s important. I don’t wear make-up off set and, even though I’m a make-up artist, I enjoy getting home, taking it all off and putting on my creams. I’ve had extensions in for eight years but I have a regular trim, I use a hair masque every day and I look after my diet. So I try to do everything naturally that I can.
But I have had surgeries, I’m not going to pretend otherwise. I’ve had my nose done, I had my teeth done in the UK and I’ve had Botox and fillers done since my late twenties. I don’t agree with surgery to the point of obsession but if something’s stopping you from being yourself, fix it. I hated my nose but I feel freer and happier since I had it done. I breastfed both my kids and diet and exercise couldn’t stop my breasts from sagging, so I had an uplift. But that for me is how it should be. We shouldn’t use surgery to stop us from making an effort, but why not support your diet and your exercise regime? It’s about making the best of what you’ve got naturally rather than trying to give yourself what you don’t have.”