You’re not getting any younger. It might be important to add that, in fact, you’re only ever going to get older. So if that’s true — and if that’s true for everyone — why is it such a struggle? My sister, ten years my senior, once told me that eventually, everyone has The Year. It’s the year you realize you’re aging; you actually see it in the mirror. For some people it comes earlier, for some later, but it happens. Last year it happened to me.
I’d always been cavalier about aging. It seemed pointless to rail against something inevitable. There was no way to know the evidence of it would throw me the way it did. I’d always loved to see other faces carved with the character of time and experience, but seeing the change in my own was jarring. I didn’t feel any different, my life was as disorganized as ever, my future as uncertain, but suddenly it was as though my corporeal self was pushing on without me. It was the sensation of lost time. My first, absurd reaction was to try and go back.
Don’t believe everything you see. It might be important to add that, in fact, when it comes to fashion images, you should believe even less. Most of us have seen the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty video documenting the evolution of a fashion photo. In the world of Photoshop, age has no dominion. But if we all know this, why is it so easy to believe the lie?
A couple of days ago I was browsing my favourite fashion website, foto_decadent, and found an editorial with Madonna and the lately-famous Jesus Luz. In it she plays the quintessential cougar, perfectly glamorous and impeccably dressed, surrounded by half-or-totally undressed young men vying for her attention. It’s racy and suggestive — but no more or less so than most of what’s out there. She looks perfect. But attached to the bottom of the post was a link to another site with a much more interesting shoot. Madonna un-shopped.
After seeing the second shoot, the first one started to look ridiculous to me. Madonna is 50. In the retouched photos she looks beautiful but not real and, to be honest, nothing special in terms of fashion imagery. In the untouched ones, she is actually sort of astounding. To think that is what 50 could look like is incredible — and possible. All of these images are meticulously designed visual projections of our desires and ideals. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a vision of ourselves we could work towards instead of against?
And this is where the discussion began. I sent the links to the WORN girls and asked their opinion.
Why are we so afraid to let beauty be human?