After four months of living abroad, I have noticed a profound change in the way I perceive beauty: I find myself idolizing women 20 to 30 years older than I am.
As a point of reference, I am turning 30 this summer (an age that really makes you think “what am I doing with my life?!”). Lately, when I think about beauty–the truly superficial layer–I have been thinking less about super models and 19-year-old actresses, and more about stylish women of substance. Women like:
Bully for me…I mean, aging is inevitable, so I might as well get on board. But, how did this new philosophy manifest? I believe it was brought on by a few subtle shifts in my life:
#1 Having to give up most American television. I may pooh-pooh reading “50 Shades of Grey,” but I have no problem watching a Real Housewives of Anywhere marathon. I thought it was harmless fun, but after a couple years I actually began to believe that Botox is a normal part of aging. I reserve that every woman has the right to choose, but Botox should certainly not be “normal.”
Real Housewives trying to cry through Botox: A compilation
#2 Observing European women in their natural habitat. Americans have long been obsessed with a French woman’s “je ne sais quoi” and for good reason. These women are stylish, confident and unapologetic about aging. Sure, plastic surgery exists in Europe, but I’ve yet to give a woman the side-eye as I try to figure out “did she or didn’t she?” Women here invest in quality skincare products and they use them religiously. They find a signature style (be it hair, clothes, perfume, etc.) and then make it their calling card. They would prefer to be individuals than to mimic the latest trend.
#3 The fashion industry is recognizing older women. I was pleasantly surprised to find one of my favorite writers, 80-year-old Joan Didion, is the new face of Céline. She has been commended with several well-earned author awards (including the Presidential Medal), but she has also cultivated a signature style. Simple, monochromatic clothing sets off her petite frame. Worldly, interesting accessories give her a sense of well-traveledness and mystery.
Meanwhile, Kate Spade this week named 93-year-old Iris Apfel as the face of her spring campaign. The famed interior designer Apfel certainly ascribes to the “more is more” fashion philosophy, but it works for her. She began wearing her owl-like glasses in the 1970s and made it her signature.
Need more convincing that aging gracefully isn’t exciting? Watch this documentary on Netflix.