beauty

Sarah Jessica Parker, and our unspoken gratitude for her face.

Sometimes I worry that a moving forehead is becoming extinct.

Just as conservation programmes trudge through the grasslands of Africa, identifying and tracing the endangered black Rhino population, I too keep a running tally of every fine line I see. I file it away. It is evidence that, although rare, the animated face still exists. 

When I see a frozen forehead, or at least one devoid of lines, I do not feel angry or disappointed or betrayedAnother woman's face does not belong to me. She can do with it what she likes. I would be a hypocrite to police and judge her choices, while I colour my hair, and lather my skin in serums that do God knows what. To argue there's much of a difference between an anti-aging cream and an anti-aging needle is philosophically difficult. Trust me, I've tried. Most of us, in our own neurotic ways, are trying to look younger. We are just doing so within different budgets, and to varying degrees.


Video via

But when I see a forehead that moves and creases that deepen when an expression shifts, I feel relief. A sense of permission. It is as though those lines are actually words, and they read "you're allowed". 

You are allowed to age, and you will not spontaneously combust if you show outward signs of it.

ADVERTISEMENT

Over the last few weeks, pictures of 56-year-old Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of the Sex and the City revival, And Just Like That, have been circulating online. 

Her face does not look like it did 15 years ago when the television show aired its last episode. It does not look like most other female 50-something-year-old faces starring in blockbuster films or television series. Her skin betrays signs of movement, of laughter and shock and contemplation. 

In 2021, that is incredibly subversive. 

To be a 56-year-old woman in a film is one thing. 

It is another thing entirely to actually look like a 56-year-old woman in a film. 

Paulina Porizkova, a model and actress, also aged 56, yesterday shared a photograph of Parker. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I've been seeing photos of Sarah Jessica Parker in the media, and every time I think 'oh thank you thank you!'", Porizkova wrote.

"Someone who is my age who looks like me. I see my lines and droops and silver roots mirrored, and I love it. Representation! She makes me feel like I’m not a freak for aging - because fashionable, beautiful, stylish her - is doing it too. And she looks amazing...

"My point is only that aging women have been nearly erased from the media, leaving those of us who want to, or try or would at least try to embrace it - without much representation."

What Porizkova captures is the gratitude some of us feel towards women who do not acquiescence to a culture that values youth above just about anything else. 

Parker becomes our freedom fighter. Her face an act of protest. Defiance. Maybe, we imagine, the more we see faces like hers, the more acceptable ours might be. 

We are told it is all a choice. A choice whether or not to get Botox, to get a facelift or filler or our lips done. But that is to assume a choice is made in a vacuum. As though the decision is one we come to alone, staring at our reflection in the bathroom mirror, with the door firmly closed. 

But the door isn't closed. It's wide open. And in the reflection we see not only our own face, but the faces of so many others. Those our age or older. Famous or not. In a generation, to resist Botox has become a radical act. I've begun to feel like fighting ageing by any means necessary is the only choice; one that has already been made for me. 

And then I see a face that is familiar yet different. A face that is ageing, but doesn't look terrified or disgusted by it. A face that is not at war with its age, but has gently made peace with it.

All I want as I get older, and as I see more lines stamp themselves on my forehead and around my eyes, is a choice about what I might like to do with them. 

Faces like Sarah Jessica Parker's give me a choice. 

And for that I am pathetically grateful.