beauty

"I feel like the last remaining 38-year-old with lines on my forehead."

Lately, I’ve been looking around and noticing many women my age looking decidedly ‘refreshed’. It’s becoming lonely being the only woman without a smooth forehead.

I have lines on my forehead and around my eyes that no amount of miracle cream, aloe vera or - as Jennifer Lopez famously said - ‘joy’, can erase.

Though I’m blessed with great health, I’m never told that I look young for my age.

Watch: Mamamia's Renny Beazley asked "The Doll Maker" what she'd do to her face. Here's what she said. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

This is an interesting place to be for someone who has never given much thought to the state of my face. I’ve always prioritised experiences over beauty and soaked up my fair share of sunshine.  

My face is the result of many adventures, belly laughs and days spent in the sun – so why is it so hard to feel ok about it?

Research has revealed that cosmetic surgery spiked dramatically during the pandemic – a phenomenon largely attributed to the amount of time people (mostly women) were spending staring at their own image on Zoom. 

This tells me I’m not the only one feeling the pressure to look better and younger.

I don’t choose to have cosmetic surgery, nor do I judge people who do, but I feel it’s worth examining the cultural beliefs and thought patterns that have led to clinics stationed on every street corner.

Talking about this subject is a slippery slope – something Instagram influencer Janne Robinson discovered after an emotional post she made in 2018 that implored: "Please stop injecting s**t into your face. I am sick of women looking the same."

Robinson’s post went viral and attracted what was, to my mind, an unwarranted level of hate from the mainstream media. What fascinated me about the backlash Robinson received was that it was so unbalanced and overemotional. 

I was hoping her post would invite more nuanced conversations that went beyond the question of whether cosmetic surgery was good or evil and tackled the complicated reasons why growing numbers of women are opting for it.

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Also, I would have loved to have heard from more women like me who choose not to have surgery but still feel the effects of aging in a culture that promotes eternal youth. 

I’m observing there’s a notion of natural, effortless beauty being peddled by celebs – particularly on Instagram - and filtering down to the rest of us. It’s an image of the makeup-free goddess who ‘just woke up like this’.

The reason the idea of natural beauty matters right now is that deciphering who is actually natural and who has had a little (or a lot of) help is decidedly tricky.

Nowadays cosmetic surgery enhancements are incredibly flawless, and it’s impossible to tell who has had them.

Listen to You Beauty, the twice-weekly podcast for your face. Post continues below. 

People like me are left confused and asking, ‘Is everyone else eating more broccoli than me? Is there a secret supplement that I don’t know about?’

While it was once abundantly clear who was "genetically blessed", now it seems like everyone is. Except me.

This confusion over what is natural has the ability to mess with or amplify the stories women tell themselves about their bodies.  

I’ve always had a good amount of body confidence and it’s even messing with me as I watch women around me being told that they ‘glow’ (kale or injectables?) or look a decade younger.

Author and wellness coach Geordie Bull. Image: TDK Creative.

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Truthfully, it requires superhuman levels of willpower and a lot of inner work to be at peace with aging in a world that does everything to convince us not to. 

It’s hard on my ego to watch the women around me getting younger by the day, so I’m having to deal with it by going within and asking myself some hard truths, like:

Who do I think is beautiful?

What makes a woman beautiful at ages 30, 40, 50?

Can I love the parts of myself that are changing?

I know a couple of local women in their 50s who radiate more beauty than the ‘age-defying’ celebrities whose images are held up as aspirational.

On a physical level, these women exude good health, have sparkling, clear eyes and good posture. They also, of course, radiate confidence and self-assurance – two qualities that cannot be purchased.

What’s interesting about these beautiful women is that they look their age, yet the lines on their faces are almost irrelevant because they hold themselves with the confidence that I believe comes from inner work and self-love. 

Acknowledging that these are the older women who I see as beautiful helps me to accept the lines on my face and the new grey hairs that I discover every day. If they are beautiful, maybe I am too.

I believe the answer to the choice of whether to opt for cosmetic surgery or not asks us to dive deep beyond the "rightness" or "wrongness" of surgical enhancement and get to the heart of what we as women define as beautiful, where this definition comes from and how each of us speaks to ourselves about our bodies.

We’re all feeling the pressure to look younger. 

When we admit this and start to examine the messages we’ve been sold about attractiveness and aging, we’ll be free to make our own decisions from a place of recognising the true beauty and power of being a woman.

Geordie Bull is a journalist and emotional wellness coach who writes about women’s wellness, motherhood and transformation for Australian magazines. She lives on a bush property near Crescent Head with her husband, two kids, dogs and lots of chooks. 

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia