Saturday, 23 March 2013

Winter and Old Age

I chose this woman's face from Google's gallery because it is a face full of history.

She may well have been a great beauty in her youth, the face is fascinating now.

Not all of us age well.  Not all of us started well and that doesn't get better as time marches relentlessly on.

There is a different kind of beauty which comes with great age, the sort of beauty which compels us to look again and again at some faces.

On Thursday evening I spent a couple of hours in the company of a group of fellow volunteers, wining and dining and getting to know each other better.

The group consisted of about 10 women and 2 men, aged from about fiftyish (the youngest), to eightyish the oldest.

As the evening progressed we exchanged small tentative snippets of information about ourselves and, as we relaxed into each other's company, more personal and detailed stories were offered.

Every face, while reminiscing became animated and full of beauty, while the basic features remained the same.

It was a very cold night, with strong powerful gusts of Easterly wind lowering the temperatures, yet warm and comfortable in the pub we forgot this nastiest of winters and our combined considerable ages.

While television programmes are full of adverts for miracle youth-recapturing lotions and potions, some of which probably do work to some extent, not one single word is ever uttered on the natural ageing process
which has a beauty  uniquely its own.

To my (admittedly prejudiced) eye, nothing looks worse than an artificially crease-free, smooth-skinned, dewy-eyed face surrounded by a halo of bright red, blonde or black nylon-looking hair on a woman in her sixties or seventies.

When a hand is raised to the face to push back the hair, the contrast between the wrinkled veiny hand and the plastic-looking face on its lined neck is incongruous, while the softly wrinkled face with hair that matches allows the onlooker 'see' the person.

We will all (some of us already have) acquire a winter face in the course of time, but it should be full of a lifetime's experiences of life lived and loved, not a mask which offers no insight to what a person has been.

It is snowing heavily here once again, and those unlucky enough to be out and about in it will doubtless have pinched white faces and red noses, but, that is as it should be,  A face should reflect what its 'wearer' is feeling, not the face of the person looking at it.

Whether you age gracefully or disgracefully, at least age naturally.

PS Don't forget the birds.  They suffer in this weather.


  1. I agree with you about letting ones face be what it is...nothing looks less youthful than the plastic surgery face and the wrinkled hands! One thing about keeping my "old" face...the young men and women who bag my groceries ALWAYS ask if they can help me out to my car. I always tell them it's my exercise for the day...I told a young lady this the other day and she seemed quite put out :D

  2. This is beautifully written and so true, Ray. I will admit to using moisturiser (the cheapest kind) on my dry skin, but nothing else, and at least I look all of a piece. I also try to dress as befits my age - not old-ladyish, but trying hard not to be mutton dressed as lamb. I feel truly sorry for the women (and men too) who seem to fear age so much and be prepared to do almost anything not to show it. The mind and body attached to the artificial face are still the same age after all.

  3. I know just what you mean Theanne. Not one to play the 'old lady' card very often, I have nevertheless found it quite useful at times.
    Somehow and for some unknown reason, just going about one's own business day to day, is seen as 'remarkable' by certain young people.
    Nice to get some kudos for something you can do nothing about.

  4. Thanks for the compliment on my writing Perpetua.
    Much appreciated.
    Like you, I ladle the moisturiser on by the ton.
    Having eczema means using industrial quantities of moisturiser just to avoid itching.
    I do, however, wear eye make-up, othjerwise my eyes would disappear from sight, but that is all.
    As for clothes, I wear what I like, dislike beige and neutral colours and wear blue/greens and purple/violet and longish skirts.
    Other than that I try not to frighten the horses.

  5. I have just come to you via Perpetua's blog. I just love the face you have chosen. Like perpetua I only use moisturiser - have done from my 20's. I turn 70 this year - where has the time gone - and dress for comfort.

    The photo reminds me of a lovely, kind, generous Maori lady I met recently. She has a wonderful wrinkled face and the most amazing eyes which seem almost opaque.

  6. Hello Susan, welcome to Bedlam!
    Moisturiser is an absolute essential isn't it?
    I was 78 a week ago, and still use the same one I used at 27 when I started.

    It is a wonderful face isn't it.