The Outdated Construct of Ageing Gracefully and Why it’s Time to Let it Go

Despite the new era of Fake News in which we now find ourselves living, there is a lot of ‘truth telling’ happening across social media as well as in traditional media (the latter to a lesser degree I would argue).  The ever-increasing conversations around mental health, suicide, rape, sexual harassment, gender equality and diversity and body positivity are undeniably having transformative effects on the way certain populations identify themselves and others.  What’s not to love about that?  But, there remain innumerable ideals and standards imposed upon us that persist in drawing a line in the sand – you’re either THIS, or THAT, you look like THIS, ergo, you are THAT, you do THIS, therefore, you can’t be THAT.

As humans we seem hard-wired in many aspects of our thinking to lean towards such binary oppositions, to latch on to mutually exclusive notions that preclude any possibility of a sliding scale or spectrum within the constructs (whatever they may be) ourselves and others choose to identify with.

I’d only recently discovered a new Instagram fave, the12ishstyle by Katie Sturino, when my jaw hit the floor whilst reading comments on a post detailing her recent Botox appointment.

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Many of Sturino’s followers could have cared less about her regular Botox treatments, or simply ignored them altogether, opting instead to obsess over her earrings.  But for others, this post was construed as completely undermining every single body positive post that had gone before it.  The commentary concurred that @the12ishstyle “looked like all the other women now” (really???  Is that kinda like saying all Asians look the same?  cue, “I’m not a racist, but………”), that she had let them down and they were unfollowing, that her views on body positivity couldn’t possibly be relevant because of her choice to use Botox.

Ummmmm, WITAF.

Body positivity is acceptance and appreciation of all human body types.[1][2] It is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, and be accepting of their own bodies as well as the bodies of others.[3] The movement sets forth the notion that beauty is a construct of society, and poses that this construct should not infringe upon one’s ability to feel confidence or self-worth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_positivity

As far as I can tell, there are no caveats in that definition, no proviso that says “well, I can be accepting of the bodies of others so long as they don’t have tattoos, or stretch marks, or coloured hair, or botox, or microbladed eyebrows…..”.  It is pretty irrefutable that beauty is a construct of society as the definition states.  However, the assumption that any ‘body mods’ a person undertakes are a result of chasing the prescriptive beauty ‘norm’ is a dangerous one that leads to massive generalisation and marginality in the way we understand choices people make around their own bodies.

I have very prominent tattoos, 3 of them.  There was not one single outside influence responsible for any of them except the death of my father.  I’m not a member of some underground counter-culture, gang, or punk band, I simply think they’re beautiful, and if I’m honest, I’m impulsive.  If I feel like getting a new tattoo, I’ll get one.  Life is short, do the damn thing.

I feel the same way about my botox treatments – which I’ve been having for around 7 years.  The initial impetus was nothing to do with a fear of ageing, of obsessing over ever-increasing wrinkles or a desire to look ‘perfect’, lord knows that’s never going to happen and I could care less.  The reason I choose to have Botox injections (or Dysport, whatever) is that my natural countenance is the very definition of Resting Bitch Face.  The muscles in my forehead pull my frown lines together so tightly, creating such magnificent ruts that you could literally crack an almond between my eyebrows.  I was sick of looking like I was perpetually furious.

Though, because we are so attuned to accepting other’s bodies, and hence the choices one might make surrounding said body, I shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone right?

Wrong.  ‘You do you Boo’ and everything that is fabulous and really quite poignant about this seemingly throwaway, viral phrase doesn’t seem to apply if you’re over 35 and heading down the road of Ageing Gracefully.

As au naturel and simplistic as Aging Gracefully sounds, it’s just another beauty construct, one that effectively marginalizes and throws some pretty negative shade on anyone that veers off the rather narrow path of what is ‘acceptable’.  Creating blueprints and constructs (which is exactly what ‘Aging Gracefully’ is) around what women wear, how they should behave, what they should look like and what they do to their own bodies, is DONE.  Really, really DONE.

I use Dysport to combat frown lines that make small children scared, does that mean I’m not ageing gracefully?  Apparently yes.  Obviously, whoever first coined that phrase has not seen me juggle my Mum Life with work, family, friends and a massive volunteer role in our community.  I’m the very definition of grace people, I’m literally a gazelle leaping across the savannah.  It takes more than blunt force and a stubborn temperament to keep all of those balls in the air.  It requires grace and finesse.

Visiting Dr Ellen Selkon at Clinic 42 is a refreshing experience in a safe, judgement free zone.  She is the fourth cosmetic medicine practitioner I’ve visited over the years, but the first one that skipped over the part where all of my facial imperfections that ‘can be fixed’ have been pointed out – I loved her immediately for this!  For me, Botox and the discussion around it are like anything – it all comes down to personal choice.  I choose it because it has had a profoundly positive effect on the way I feel about my appearance as well as my day-to-day interactions with others.  Put it this way, I don’t get asked ‘what’s wrong?’ multiple times per day as a result of a perpetual scowl that no amount of yoga and meditation was ever going to iron out.  

To answer the most common questions about Botox;

  • Does it hurt?  Barely.  Think tiny pin-pricks.  The needle is in and out in seconds and I feel no residual pain.
  • Does your face even move now?  It sure does, I pretty much have full movement and expression when I raise my eyebrows like everyone else.  The difference is in my resting expression.  The big furrows between my brows are much smoother and relaxed.
  • Is it an ongoing treatment?  Yes.  Each treatment lasts between 3-4 months and I always book ahead to keep on track.  Since I’ve been vigilant around maintaining a regular appointment schedule, I’ve noticed increased efficacy of the treatments. 
  • Will people notice?  Not if your Doctor is amazing!  Friends might just think your skin health has improved or that you look well rested.  You WILL notice though and that’s what matters.

It’s 2018.  We have more freedom, more options, more solutions to the minutiae of problems/challenges/minor or major grievances we face in everyday life and that is the beauty of choice.  Choosing NOT to judge others, choosing to focus on oneself without projecting personal agendas on others, choosing to accept and respond positively to the body image of everyone we meet……….this is what ageing gracefully means to me.  It’s not a measure of outward beauty, rather a mindset of self-acceptance and acceptance of others combined with the inherent knowledge of when to hold one’s tongue!  Commentary around Ageing Gracefully, even if prefaced with “I’m not judging those who do….”  is unnecessary and dated, and creates a very exclusionary dialogue which is, quite frankly, boring and one-sided.  If it’s your position that I (or anyone else) am not Ageing Gracefully because of Botox then perhaps you need a little reminder that it is in fact, no business of yours anyway.

Beauty Review – Skip the Extensions, commit to Revitalash

An impulsive morning at the mall late last year, fuelled by an innate desire to be ‘sans kids’ for as long as possible, saw me agree to eyelash extensions after I had already upgraded my manicure to a bikini wax. Worst beauty mistake of my life. Though I declined the ‘sexy eyes’ option, I still left the mall looking like I’d gotten a bit lost on my way home from Carnival in Brazil.  They were so absurd that I was unable to wear sunglasses as my mammoth, plastic, spidery lash extensions meant the lenses were offset so far from my face, the frame was no longer able to rest on my nose. I raced home and gave them a good trim (it felt like cutting fishing line!) then set about trying to remove them.  This was impossible, probably due to the superglue it felt like they’d been applied with, so I found a ‘reputable salon’ and had the awful things removed safely. My lashes were damaged, so after a couple of months recovery, I gave extensions another whirl.  I did love them, they look gorgeous when they are quality lashes applied by a professional, but, the upkeep is time-consuming and expensive.  Even worse, I’m a picker, so as soon as they looked a little scraggly I found it hard to keep my fingers away from them, always trying to lift them away from my poor natural lashes, which inevitably were often pulled out with the extension.
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I decided it was time to wean myself off expensive extensions so, rather than spending $120 on another set of lashes, I purchased a two month supply of Revitalash for the same amount. Guys;  it works and it’s essentially the easiest, no-hassle step you could add into your daily beauty routine. One tiny swipe of the teeny Revitalash brush across your lash line once a day and you’re done. The secret is consistency. Stick with your application every day and your lashes will love you for it – and you’ll love them. I first noticed the difference after around 6 weeks of regular use and I haven’t looked back. Once I noticed the length improving I also noticed less lash fall.
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I currently still have a couple of ‘stubbies’ that are re-growing after losing them during the extension debacle and they are my yardsticks lol. They keep growing and growing but their neighbours do too! I am committed to my natural lashes now and the combination of Revitalash and a 6 weekly lash lift and tint is both cheaper, less time consuming and with results that look equally amazing as a set of extensions (IMO!). The Revitalash range is expanding and now includes lash, brow and hair-care products including a new Micellar water which I’ve been using over the past two weeks. Suitable for both natural lashes and extensions (many micellar waters aren’t) this is the holy grail of mascara and eye makeup removal. Less mess, less fuss and less product resulting in a quick, nourishing way to achieve fresh, clean lashes. Find Revitalash at authorised beauty stockists nationwide or visit them online at www.revitalash.co.nz Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner RRP from $75 Revitalash Micellar Water RRP $54
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Family Travel: Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium

Visiting aquariums is our thing, it’s what we do when we travel and we absolutely LOVE it.  Both of the boys have always been a tad obsessed with all things ‘ocean’, an interest Dave and I can wholeheartedly get behind.

When we confirmed our (very) last minute trip to the Sunshine Coast, a visit to Mooloolaba and its famous Sea Life Aquarium was top of our must-do list.  Ethan saw it featured on a TV doco years ago (which we all watched on repeat hundred of times!) and had been super keen to visit ever since.

Our first full day in Cotton Tree was a drizzly Sunday morning, perfect for a lazy, unrushed visit to Sea Life.

The drive took 10 minutes and at 9ish, we were able to find a carpark easily, though I can imagine this would get more and more difficult throughout the day.

We had a behind the scenes experience booked in at 11.30am so set about following the kids around, exploring the many stunning exhibits on offer.

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Tidal Touchpool at Sea Life Sunshine Coast

The one we came back to again and again, was actually the very first you come across upon entry. Nixon absolutely loved the Tidal Touchpool. It was so engaging for him, I think he discovered a new fish or starfish to observe, and yes, touch, each time he led us back there.

We were so surprised by how quiet it was in the morning, we were really able to take our time and move around at our own pace.

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Freshwater Streams Zone

A family fave was the Freshwater Streams zone. Seeing the giant Barramundi and Australian Lungfish, species we don’t have in New Zealand, was awesome, they are huge fish!

We also loved the Ocean Tunnel.  The Grey Nurse sharks are the biggest we’ve ever seen, even bigger when we got to see them from the surface on our Behind the Scenes Tour.

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New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Sunshine Coast Aquarium

This tour was an absolute treat.  We have never upgraded our entry tickets to include any experiences before so this one was so engaging for all of us but especially for our two young boys, one of whom has always aspired to be a marine biologist.  I’m not sure why but I’d always assumed that the thick tunnel walls in aquariums magnified the size of the creatures on the other side – turns out the opposite is true!  Being able to observe the inhabitants of the Ocean Tunnel from above and hear their stories made for such a memorable experience, both of the boys gave our guide their full attention throughout the tour which also included the turtle rehabilitation area – great environmental message for everyone here.

We are so stoked to have been able to tick Sea Life Aquarium Sunshine Coast off of our travel bucket list.  It’s such a perfect family excursion and provided a really interesting morning for both of our boys, even with their 8.5 year age gap which can sometimes be a tough ask!

Thanks for having us guys!

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