My exploration of cosmetic medicine was triggered by finding myself single again in my early 40s. I wanted to have some fun after years of an unhappy marriage. As the sole caregiver of two very young children, I was quite unprepared to be putting on the ‘glad rags’ again. I never thought I’d have to go through the angst of feeling pretty enough again, but the whole game had changed. I wasn’t meeting men my own age any more. All the good ones were still married.
Instead, I was seeing younger men – not all bad! – and the harsh reality of dealing with an age gap and social norms around dating younger men was being shoved squarely in my face. I should have been comfortable in my own skin and have reached the stage where worrying about how I looked could be taken off the table, right? I was too busy for that! Big corporate job, divorce papers, two kids and I needed to look picture-perfect so the age gap wouldn’t be so apparent when I dated younger men. Yikes.
How do we combat ageing in a youth-dominated culture?
Our culture constantly tells us to be ‘sexy’ and ‘hot’ – but that can’t last forever. One day, we look in the mirror to find a distressing dissonance. Surely that person looking back at me isn’t really me? There are too many lines, and I look tired.
Once we wake up to the fact we’ve inadvertently bought into a youth-dominated view of the world, we can challenge this. We can start the journey of ageing and how we want to look from a more empowered perspective.
Start by asking the big question: How do I want to age? From a practical standpoint, we can acknowledge that how we look in a very visual society has implications in many areas when we make it to our 40s, 50s and beyond. Some of us have real concerns about competing with younger women for jobs and status in the workplace, and in an ageist world at large.
Fighting this as an individual can be beyond our capabilities – one person can’t single-handedly reverse everyone else’s subconscious training. The quest for something we really can’t ever be – young again – sets us off on a wild goose chase in which we become increasingly disempowered.
Cosmetic medicine as a weapon against ageism
Should cosmetic medicine be used as one of the tools in an arsenal of things we use to stay relevant? We are justifiably outraged at having to think like this, but this is the reality faced by many women who remain silent on the topic.
The need to keep ‘having a bit of work done’ a secret makes it seem shameful, and that’s equally disempowering. Wouldn’t it be better if we could talk about the elephant in the room as we transition through this period of history? Women need to use all means at their disposal to survive, and tactics change at different stages along the road to victory.
There are many detractors fiercely opposed to cosmetic medicine. They say it is frivolous, restrictive or unsafe. My question is this: Why are these people so intent on making us feel guilty about using technology to influence how we look? What do they have to gain by keeping us from looking and feeling our best?
Cosmetic medicine can be an empowering health practice
As I started to look fresher and less harried from the judicious use of cosmetic medicine, I turned my thoughts to more strategic ways to look well. I started hormone modulation and found that my skin dramatically improved in appearance and texture. The compliments came thick and fast. My skin had never looked better, and this spurred me to lift the bar for my internal health as well.
I started researching supplements, doing more exercise and actively looking at my nutrition. I was starting to glow with good health, all because the cosmetic medicine and the positive feedback triggered sustainable changes in my behaviour. My health journey started with me wanting to look good, but now I also feel great. I’m fitter and ageing better than I was 20 years ago.
It’s all connected to the skin
Our skin is our largest organ. It shields us from the elements, keeps our bones and soft structures intact; it detoxes us, and keeps us warm and cool. We are expected to use any means necessary to look after other organs such as our brains and liver, but when we use medical interventions for our skin, we are accused of vanity.
If loving yourself is vain, I say bring it on. If we are conscious about using cosmetic medicine as a tool for personal empowerment and health improvement, then I believe that cosmetic medicine is a fabulous thing to have in our lives.
Kate Marie is the founder of the Slow Ageing movement which aims to support women to embrace the beyond-50s as a time to optimise personal health and wellbeing, and to live a life of purpose and contribution. She is the co-author of the Slow Ageing Guide to Skin Rejuvenation and the best-selling book Fast Living Slow Ageing. Both books are available where all good books are sold. For more information visit www.slowaging.org