Jane Cunningham: Beauty is Ageless

 Jane is an online beauty blogger from the UK. She shares her journey with ageless beauty.



Back in the day, I was a beauty journalist, but then I decided to start my own site so I could be myself without restriction,” Jane says.


When I was a beauty journalist, we used to be very intent on pleasing the advertisers. We used language like “this will make you look younger. It will get rid of your crow’s feet, your neck lines, your smile lines (as though those are bad things), your turkey neck,” and other horrible expressions to describe women’s faces. I used to use the terms so freely. I think when you’re in your 30s, you use those words casually, but after a while, you start to feel differently. As I grew older, I was like - wait, a minute, why are we talking like this to women? Back then, that was the primary language used to describe women, and I didn’t realize how negative it was until I started to get older myself.


I began to grow tired of brands telling me that looking younger than my years was an obligation - because no, it isn’t. They make you feel like the only way to be beautiful is to be young, and that’s not the case. It’s ridiculous how they make up “faults” in women like aging so they can sell you something to make it better, and they don’t just do this with aging.


For example, there was an instance where I went to a Dove conference, and they were going on about the dark spots on women’s armpits. They had just launched a product that “targets dark marks and redness” under the arms. During the campaign for this product, they brought this “problem” to the attention of a million women who initially had never believed this to be a problem. That was a perfect example of how messaging creates insecurity. I mean - who thinks about their underarms? It’s just not an area that you particularly focus on. I did go to a Dove conference, and I stood up and said, “I think what you’ve done is so damaging to women. You need to take responsibility for yourselves.” And they said, “If you really don’t care, show us your armpits now.” So, I literally took off my overshirt in front of Dove Global, and I said, “Here they are. Say what you like.”


However, I think brand messaging to women has softened some, especially in the U.K. At the same time though, brands are still using older women who look significantly younger than their natural age. There’s this group of 40, 50, and 60-year old who still aren’t being authentically spoken to about their beauty. It’s as if brands think that a woman’s beauty becomes lost over time. On the contrary, beauty isn’t something you lose. It’s not like your car keys. It changes, but it’s never lost.




Yet, when I worked in beauty journalism, this truth was not conveyed. Trying anti-aging treatments was actually a part of my job. During my 40s, I would try things and think they’d sorted out my wrinkles. Then, as time went on, I thought to myself - “Wait, why am I worried about having lines when I smile? That’s a sign of a good time. Why would I be worried about that?” On the other hand, once I got into my 50s, I started to think - “Do I want to look fresh and glowy? Yes, because that looks beautiful at any age. That suits everybody, and it’s not age-related.”


I’ve come to understand that aging comes layer after layer. Just when you’re thinking - “yeah, I’m okay with this change that my body’s made," another thing will come along.  For example, I’m 57, and over Christmas, I lost some weight. In losing weight, the skin on my neck loosened a lot, and I was not expecting that at all. The result is that I get itchy in the folds, and it's horrible. I was also not expecting collagen depletion to be so inconsistent. So, for example, one side of my lips is slightly smaller than the other side. And for me, it’s not the fact that the collagen’s depleted. It’s the asymmetry, and that’s annoying at any age. So, every now and again, I think that I should get some lip filler just so I’m not annoyed by the asymmetry. But truthfully, I’m not perturbed by the lines; I’m annoyed by the discomfort. So, does that necessarily mean I want anti-aging, or do I want comfortable skin?

When women get treatments like this, they’re called “anti-aging” treatments, and that’s what’s put into our minds. But in reality, treatments like this simply address the physical things that happen to you before they even address the emotional needs around aging. Aging is so nuanced and layered, and it cannot be defined so simply. Women should 100% do what feels right for them, and brands should not specifically tell women what that is. Everyone is different. Do whatever you need to do that allows you to hold your confidence. That’s very important.


But ultimately, remember that your beauty is not something that you can lose. You have it forever, and as long as you live, it will always be with you. It will change as you do, and you might be at ease with that, but if you’re not, I would never advise not doing what will make you the happiest. It’s not what you do. It’s why you do it. As long as you keep your inherent beauty at the forefront of your mind, you are gentle with yourself, and you allow yourself to examine why you feel the need to look younger, you’ll be okay. Anyways, I’ve noticed that women who feel really truly loved, don’t feel ugly. The more places apart from the mirror that make you happy, the less being older matters in my view.


As you grow older, we stay the same but become so drastically different. We cannot spend all of our days thinking about the inevitability of aging and about time marching on. Let’s just cherish the day ahead, and take life moment by moment.