Define ageing gracefully?

There’s nothing like a high definition camera pointed at your face and the consequent images that are produced to make you very aware of your impending middle aged-ness. Last week I had head shots done for our new website. Luckily for me, the person taking them was a friend and I could be honest and insistent that until we got to shot number fifty-five, I was not happy. Even when we eventually got ‘the shot’, I was still unhappy. Vanity kicked in. When I finally accepted his promise that he could “soften” my crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles, I conceded on shot number fifty-five. Today I replaced my image on my LinkedIn profile with the new version of me; conscious that I’m arranging meetings with perspective clients and employers and I don’t want them shocked when we shake hands that I present as the equivalent of a corporate tinder catfish. The old version of me, the one that existed before marriage, BRCA and motherhood, was taken only five years ago, but it might as well have been a lifetime ago in all that has happened since. I wonder, if I could go back what I would tell that long-haired, wrinkle-free, flighty young woman?

Head shot circa 2014

I would probably tell her that baby wipes do not constitute a skincare routine. I would tell her that despite her relatively spot-free teenage years, acne would kick in at the ripe old age of thirty-two and that it would be the most self-conscious that she would ever be. I would tell her that the road ahead was about to get very stressful; in five years she would put a deposit on a house, only then to be refused her mortgage, finally buy the house, move house, plan a wedding, get married, get her BRCA results, loose her mind, get pregnant, put her house on the market, sell her house, move in with mum, have a baby, move house with a three month old, buy a house, move into house, loose house, move rental, start a new job, buy another house, move into said house, take over a hotel and now five years later be embarking on the next chapter. Stress is something that has been present in my life on a constant basis for a long time and now that I’m finally dealing with it, I am becoming so aware of it on my face on and on my body. I feel like I have aged a decade in the last five years. Through becoming a mother, I have lost a chunk of my self-confidence. I struggle with body image for the first time in my life. My body shape changed after my pregnancy, not just a bit wobbly in places, but my physical structure changed. I now have hips where they didn’t exist before. I look completely different in the nip than I did before, and internally, well, let’s just say my vagina will never be, feel or look the same again. I won’t go into the details here, not because it’s too personal, but because I’m very aware that mum’s-to-be may not want to read or hear about it. All I’ll say is it involves living for eighteen months with an internal ligament spasm. Oh yeah. Sexy.

Ageing gracefully is a mantra my mother would live by, and as a professional in the beauty industry I respect her take on this. I, at thirty-three years of age, can categorically say that I do not want to age gracefully. I’ve decided I want all the help I can get. Now that I’ve been pro-active in seeking out help and guidance with my mental health and I am in a good place, I feel like I can concentrate on the external. I’ve started a course of microdermabrasions, and while I feel like my skin is in great condition this week, more extreme steps are going to be needed to intervene here. The chat around my kitchen table last week was that opting for Botox or fillers would somehow be an admission of insecurity. I bit back like a defensive dog, but on reflection, I understand that’s exactly what it is. I am insecure about what my face now looks like; And that’s okay. I would count myself lucky that I made it this far, over a third of the way through my life, without feeling insecure, without ever having suffered with anxiety about my weight or skin or general appearance. I understand, only now, how debilitating that must have been for so many of my friends growing up.

So, bring it on. Along with trying to get active again (very hard with a pelvic floor with the strength of a slug), drinking more water and generally trying to eat healthy… I am open to a journey of peels, wraps, plumpers, fillers, lotions and potions. If you’re happy on the inside, you shine on the outside, I get that. But we all need help.  I won’t be hiding it either, own it I say. So send on your recommendations, DM me if you’re making yourself fabulous on the QT and can recommend something or someone to help me glow! I still believe I’ll be ageing gracefully… I think we need to redefine what that term means.

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