'I'm 33, and I have no idea what ageing is supposed to look like.'

What does a woman in her thirties look like?

Good question. A better question might be: what does a woman of any age look like?

These days, it's hard to tell.

On the one hand, you have Jennifer Aniston, on the cover of Allure magazine, looking as taut and terrific as she did at 23. Only she's 53. 

I see smooth, tanned limbs, and a wrinkle-free face, and I think: 'Good on her. That seems a bit superhuman, but I suppose it checks out. What with the personal trainers and the private chefs and the no-doubt diligence required of being an A-list actress in the public eye...' 

Yes, my internal dialogue says - you could look like that, couldn't you? At 53. It's possible.

On the other hand, just this week, you have Julia Fox, another actress, taking to TikTok to rage against the cosmetics industry and its prolific use of the term 'anti-ageing'.

She wants us to know that, actually, "ageing is fully in."

@juliafox Ooooo I know this is gonna make the broke boys mad #OLDISIN ♬ original sound - Julia fox

"If I see another product that says anti-ageing on the label, I'm suing," she told her followers.

"I'm going to sue because I'm gonna age regardless of if I put the f**king $500 serum on my face. And you all f**king know it, and we know it, so let's stop lying to ourselves."

She ended the rant by saying, defiantly, "getting old is f**king hot." 

It's sexy, she assured us.

And I so want to believe that, I do. I think we're all ready for ageing to be "in".


But as a 33-year-old woman who's not old, but also not young enough to be in camp Gen-Z, I just feel even more lost in a sea of mixed messages. 

Julia Fox is 32. She has every right to share her feelings about getting older, but understandably, her comments have rubbed some people the wrong way. Those who are middle-aged and beyond do not need a thirty-something telling them that the inevitable process of ageing is sexy, because to them it may feel anything but. Or maybe it does; maybe it's hot as hell - but what would she know? So goes the gist of the backlash.

Ironically, it is the younger generation that seems the most consumed and concerned about ageing.

My friend is in her early twenties, with the skin of a baby angel, and gets regular anti-wrinkle injections to stave off whatever small ones might start to rear their head in... the coming decade?

As for me, I really didn't care about my ageing face until I was told to. Until it felt like a Significant Thing I should be worried about. 

It only started crossing my mind when I turned Fox's age; 32, and it became unignorable.

Just weeks after my birthday last year, while watching The Oscars red carpet, I spotted two actresses who appeared to be embracing their fine lines, let's just say, more freely than some of their contemporaries. And it was refreshing.

They were Carey Mulligan and Amanda Seyfried, both nominated for Best Actress Oscars, both looking - well beautiful, obviously. But also, less taut, in that way we're used to seeing on red carpets.


Oh! said internal me. This is what the face of a woman in her thirties looks like.

Carey Mulligan and Amanda Seyfried at the 2021 Oscars. Images: Getty. And really, their fine lines are almost imperceptible, aren't they?

But we need to talk about why this felt significant. 

I'm not saying I underestimate what "work" these women might have had done, being Hollywood actresses. They have world-class makeup artists, skin therapists and cosmeticians at their disposal. They might be having regular resurfacing peels and laser treatments and derma-planing and who knows what else, what they do to their faces is their business. 


But it disturbed me, in that moment, how I found their minuscule forehead creases so refreshing.

My colleague Jessie Stephens shared that she can't stop staring at people's foreheads. In a conversation about that, she put into words the relief I was feeling: "We're searching for visible fine lines so we have permission to wear our own."

Something to offset what we're seeing on Instagram and a certain Allure cover; all that bouncy skin and barely a crease in sight. Filters or filler? Photoshop or Botox? Does it matter anymore?

So yes Julia - ageing might be inevitable, but embracing it? That's a tougher pill to swallow, when you're caught up in a groundswell of content put out by celebrities, commentators, experts and everybody else opening up about what they do, or don't do, to their faces.

About how we should or shouldn't feel about the process of ageing.

Jennifer Lopez stringently denies ever going under the needle, but for Gwyneth Paltrow, lifting the taboo and talking candidly about the time she had a frozen forehead is terribly on-brand.

I remember a time - long before skinfluencers, before influencers, and when Gwyneth's wellness empire was just a glimmer in her eye - when injectables were shrouded in secrecy: a private matter between you and your cosmetic clinic.


I was working in fashion magazines, and when editors had foreheads like beach balls, it wasn't discussed. It just was. They darted off to 'appointments' at lunchtime and that was that. 

Now, we openly chat about our treatments between friends and family members, colleagues and Instagram acquaintances. 

We swap tips, share horror stories, weigh in on the options, talk about it all. And I'm so pleased the stigma is gone, because people can and should be able to opt in to any cosmetic treatment they please.

But with that widespread acceptance comes a normalising. Comes a Jonas Brother advocating for anti-wrinkle injections to look, "well, like me."

And sometimes when a thing becomes so commonplace, to not have it becomes abnormal. Or at least it can feel that way.

And that's why companies slap anti-ageing claims on their products.

Because ageing won't be "in" until we see more representation, and acceptance, to show that it actually is normal.

Until then, like Fox says, we're all just lying to ourselves a little bit.

But can you blame us?

For more from Tamara, follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Allure - Jennifer Anniston photographed by Zoey Grossman; TikTok/Julia Fox; Mamamia. 

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