OPINION: Should I strive for perfection – or grow old gracefully? 

Many women think about cosmetic surgery when they hit their 40s Picture

Many women think about cosmetic surgery when they hit their 40s - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In contrast to my own teenage years, when a glossy magazine offered the only bench-mark for aesthetic aspiration, these days advertising images are dictated by real people, on social media changing the way youngsters can feel about, and see themselves for the better. For all the bad social platforms can invite, this, taking control and demanding inclusion is empowering.

We have changed the landscape of commercial advertising ourselves simply by having the guts to be who we are and insist this is accepted. Little by little, slowly and with hard work, real women, real bodies, real faces have crept into the framework of all media as a result and though there’s still some who need to catch on, many brands are now using reality for their own campaigns. Bravo!

Black women are now being shown with their natural hair (Vogue will catch on at some point) and the beauty of it is shown loudly and proudly. Generations of girls now won’t feel they need to straighten their hair, breaking and losing it, because they only saw women of other races shown as beautiful. 

Plus size clothing is now being modelled by women who have a softness to their faces the skinny models in fat suits did not. When we buy dresses, lured by pictures, we can be sure they’ll look similarly on us.

Older women are shown to be alive too, and it’s liberating to invite us to know we are good enough as we are.

All of that, but then…

Despite this enabling of a mind re-set, I also see more and more faces in real life which are not airbrushed for photography but worse, changed with cosmetic procedure. 

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I have to wonder at that in so many directions. We seem to be giving with one hand but throwing away with the other by making doctored smiles a reality and creating this as a new normal. Watching a TV talent show with my 12-year-old she remarked how one of the judges was crying but didn’t look sad. 

I pointed out that she didn’t look anything really, because she couldn’t move her face. The production of tears her only indication anyone was in there at all. 

“What do you mean?” Florence asked. She hadn’t thought for a second this woman’s face had been “enhanced” even though to me it was clear. 

Florence is so used to seeing that lip shelf thing, and foreheads smoother than a baby’s bottom, she thought that was how some people were born. She sees it in real-life so much she hadn’t considered it was a result of intervention.

Faces changed with poisons and potions to such an extent it’s now common place. For all their massive leaps forward, there’s an army of aesthetic clinicians pushing  them back with needles. 

I’m not going to lie, I’m confused by it all. I’m also in unfamiliar territory as I really don’t know where I stand with “having something done” myself.

I don’t want lips which reach a room before me, or to find myself unable to show emotion through expression, but I also don’t love looking older, especially when others around me aren’t. 

I have friends who have met with a needle and look great for it, a little fresher for having done so. 

And even though I see far more faces which have gone too far, that makes me wonder if I might give it a go. 

I see the danger but I’m entering the red zone of thought anyway. 

We already live in a world where my soon-to-be teenage daughter will never know the beauty of a bad photograph because she will delete and forget it before considering the possibility it could be printed for posterity and laughs thirty years on. 

She, at the tender age of 12, has never made a make-up faux pas because she’s followed TikTok tutorials so closely, she’s a face artist as clever as the experts on the Mac Counter in Jarrolds! 

We can be richer in some ways for this leap, but in others… 

Are we taking real and making it a perfection we’d previously only known with airbrushes in magazines, and is this more dangerous?

I wonder, one day will I be in the minority if I don’t get my drooping eye lids lifted or my crow’s feet ironed out? 

Will everyone else be walking around a vision of true-life perfection while I have grown old gracefully only to be left behind? 

The only one with a face that matches the neck and hands?

It’s a whole new quagmire within which to wade through on my own, let alone take my daughters with me, but I know one thing for sure – this is going to be a hard journey for women everywhere. 


And this time we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk