How you look as you get older is a choice. Just ask Pamela Anderson.

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Choice is a great thing. Especially if you’re a woman.

I appreciate being able to choose my partner, my job, how to spend the money I earn, how many children I have and when I stop having them. I like choosing what to wear each day. My grandmothers didn’t have all these choices decades ago. Many women still don’t have these choices in 2023.

When a new choice first becomes available to us, however, either because of legislation (who will I vote for?), societal change (do I even want to get married?) or technology (do I want my pad with wings or without?), it can be overwhelming. Accustomed to a set menu, suddenly it’s a la carte and decisions must be made.

Watch: How to be a woman in 2023. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I finished watching the Supermodel documentary because the four women featured have all made choices about how they will look as they age.

Christy Turlington has chosen little or no intervention which is in itself a choice, especially when your face has been your money-maker.

Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford have chosen to have various procedures which Cindy doesn’t discuss and Linda wishes she didn’t have to but things went wrong and she sued after becoming “disfigured”. Naomi looks mostly the same due to genetics or ‘good’ work i.e.: work that doesn’t look like work but which still costs the same if not more than work that does, in fact, look like work.


Just over the last few days, Pamela Anderson has been in the news for attending Paris Fashion Week without any makeup. But is it so revolutionary when you could argue she has the means to undertake expensive treatments, cosmetic procedures (though she has denied this in the past) and anything else that might improve her appearance at her disposal as a celebrity?

Of course you don’t have to be a supermodel (like the Christy, Linda, Cindy and Naomi) or a model (like Pamela) to toss around these choices each time you look in the mirror. You just have to be a sentient woman living in the western world where youth is marketed as power and aging is portrayed as something to be feared and avoided at all costs so help you god.

And oh, the cost. The financial cost, sure, because none of these anti-aging products or procedures come cheap but also the mental load of it. It’s exhausting.

Should I get Botox? When? Where? How much and how often? Filler? Needling? What about those LED facials, do they work? How can I get rid of pigmentation and all this damn sun damage? Do I need my forehead to move? What about those pesky 11’s between my eyebrows that make me look permanently angry? Is there something that can make my knees look younger? I heard Elle Macpherson did that. Do I need filler in my cheeks or will it make me look like a chipmunk? How can I get my eyelids to be less droopy? Can Botox fix that or do I need to get my eyelids chopped like Julia Morris did? What’s that thing I read about laser? What can laser do? Will it fix my wrinkly neck? Will anything?


It never ends. Literally. It. Never. Ends.

I don’t do well with too many choices. I get choice-paralysis. My ADHD makes me particularly prone to it. That’s why I do weird stuff like have the same thing for breakfast, and lunch every day for years. It’s just more efficient. I’m very decisive for the same reason; for me, even a bad decision is better than an endless liminal state of this-or-that-or-maybe-that-other-thing which drains my life force.

So how are you choosing to age? And what about in five years? Or 10? These questions don’t apply to the biology of aging because there are still only two choices about that: get older or be dead.

Aesthetically though, it’s a buffet with more dishes being added all the time.

A generation ago, there were only a couple of options if you wanted to look younger...

1. Should you dye your hair?

My kids have never had a grandmother with grey hair. Only blonde. The swing towards grey seems to mostly be on the heads of 22-year-olds who are being ironic while natural grey-heads mostly reach for the bottle.

2. Should you have a facelift?

Until the past decade or so, cosmetic surgery of any kind was only for Hollywood stars and rich society ladies. Tweakments didn’t exist and make-up was the only tool in the box.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud where Clare, Holly, and I talk about ‘The Super Models’ documentary starring Linda, Naomi, Christy and Cindy. Post continues after podcast.

Now, there are infinite aesthetic choices dangled in front of women as early as their 20s. They range from minimally invasive procedures like Botox and chemical peels to maximally invasive ones that require a surgeon and a general anaesthetic. You can even get your vagina ‘rejuvenated’ and your arsehole bleached back to a more youthful shade. Oh my. There are products and procedures that can help with thinning hair, sagging flesh and the distribution of fat which tends to gather around your middle as you get older. That’s a cuckoo number of choices to make about something that used to be decided for us by time but can now be customised with money.


Everything is in a seemingly permanent state of play but is this progress or pressure? A friend of mine chose not to have kids and even though she’s about to turn 51, people are still asking her if she’s going to have a baby.

Now that reproductive technology has allowed women to have babies way past their biological age (via egg donation, surrogacy or both) questions about having kids don’t stop, even as a woman ages out of her fertility window. My friend is at peace with her decision; it’s other people who are determined to keep reminding her she still has options. I don’t want options; she insists. I want to travel and chill with my dog. Just let me be.

The voices asking questions about how we’re going to look as we age are usually inside our own heads. Every time you look in the mirror - at any age - you’re aware of the option to look different. Better. Younger. I guess it’s nice in theory to have options but is it, really? Mostly, I find it exhausting. Like looking at a menu and never feeling full.

Feature Image: Getty.

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