The natural beauty revolution: growing old gracefully

5th November 2023

A recent article in The Guardian looked at three wonderful actors who walked the Paris Fashion Week catwalk “makeup-free at 56” and sporting "natural grey hair”.

It seemed to cause quite a ‘big French fuss’ as Pamela Anderson, Dame Helen Mirren and Andie MacDowell enjoyed being their ‘natural and authentic’ selves at one of the world’s biggest fashion shows.

Pamela Anderson showcased her glowing complexion and said in an interview: "I feel like it’s just freedom. It’s like a relief.” This was a statement. Perhaps rebellion too. 

Following this, actor Jamie Lee Curtis quite rightly declared the "natural beauty revolution has officially begun!" Too right!

Ageing has been given an extremely negative connotation in our industry for many years. The more mature female actors, both on stage and screen, have had pressure put upon them to do everything they can to reverse the ageing process and look ‘youthful’ in order to get work.

This pressure is not ok. It’s very important that everyone, no matter who they are, feel happy in their own skin. No one should be telling you how you should or shouldn’t look, regardless of age.

Meryl Streep said in an interview in 2011, “I thought I must be grotesque after being offered three witch roles at 40”. She thought her career was over.

Yes, being in acting means you are in the limelight so you should certainly make an effort with your appearance. But does that mean you have to change how you look and potentially feel just to be accepted in society and the industry?

In this day and age, we are able to see celebrities 24/7 thanks to social media. Sometimes we can’t help but feel that we want or should be looking like them. What we must remember is that these actors have beauticians, makeup artists, fitness trainers, dietitians etc to help them look the way they do. If we keep trying to follow what they do and how they look, then we are just going to become disappointed.

For years we have had many forms of advertising pushing anti-ageing creams in front of us, telling users that it will make us young again. Why is society making us feel pressured to look young, when in reality is we are growing older. Why is it that there is a certain look we should all be achieving when we reach a certain age?

The new buzz word is ‘pro-ageing’ instead of ‘anti-ageing’. But do you know, I don’t mind it. Ageing is going to happen. It’s natural. Instead of trying to do all that we can to stop something that is inevitable, surely we should just embrace it. Think of it as growing old gracefully and it being something to celebrate.

The more we talk about ageing, the more normal it becomes. We see actors doing things differently and enjoying the ageing process, like Dame Helen Mirren, and we feel it’s ok to do the same. It really is applauded when they decide to go au-natural and still look absolutely fabulous.

There is so much pressure on ‘normal’ women already from these high-profile actors, to not get old, have wrinkles, have grey hair and conform to unrealistic beauty standards. It can be exhausting and costly!

Lockdown was a turning point for many of us. When hairdressers weren’t available to do our roots, some of us decided to do away with the dye and highlights and just let the natural colours come through and embrace the change. It’s empowering to do that. Not brave as some might say, but empowering.

As you get older you have a different relationship with your body and your looks. With age comes maturity and you appreciate yourself a whole deal more. 

We’re all unique individuals and the ageing process will affect us all very differently. We’ve all been on many highs and many lows throughout our lives and that has taken a toll on us in a variety of ways. If we can have an optimist mindset and attitude, and see ageing as a positive, it can lead to a much healthier lifestyle and quality of life.

I love Jamie Lee Curtis’ view of growing older. She said last year in the Independent: “I am pro-ageing,” she added. “I want to age with intelligence and grace and dignity and verve and energy. I don’t want to hide from it.

It has finally become “cool for women to look their age.” About time too.