“It’s great,” the article said. “Older women are at last getting good roles in films.” It caught my attention – wow – Does this mean we won’t see actresses (and actors) suddenly looking unrecognisable, plumped up with fillers or facelifted out of all recognition?

I remember how shocked I was seeing Renee Zellwegger’s new look.  At first I refused to believe it was her – she had such a sweet, pretty face throughout her Bridget Jones’ films… but alas no more, she succumbed to the Hollywood uniform of the ‘ironed’ face look.

The article continued: “Women take such good care of themselves now and we have so much we can use to stay young…” was the general theme. The irony of their statements hadn’t occurred to them… older women can now get good roles in films providing they look…. like young women! I felt disappointed. We have become so obsessed with youth and beauty that we don’t even recognise when we are being erroneous.

The list of famous people who have ruined their looks through cosmetic surgery is endless. Are they incredibly vain? Maybe. Victims of our obsession with youth and beauty? Probably. But more likely they are obsessed with trying to save their careers in a world where everyone and everything is judged on how it looks rather than who or what it really is.

I remember being shocked by photos of the cruelly dubbed ‘Bride of Wildensteen’ – a woman who was so addicted to cosmetic surgery she totally ruined her whole face. Sadly this has become very common. I look with trepidation at people I once admired to see if they too have succumbed, it is always disappointing if they have. I always think their original looks were so much better.

If it is successful of course I guess we don’t know, so there are probably many that are, but everyone famous that is ‘ageing well’ is looked at with suspicion. And I admit that I too try to look after myself, I do this probably more than my mother or grandmothers did.

But I abhor the idea of surgery, and looking around at friends that have succumbed, I will never do it. I cannot see that it ever looks natural. And why should we have to do it?

Society seems to revolve around social media and celebrity – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are littered with photos of young men and women that have been ‘photoshopped’ to make them look as attractive as possible, They seem to live impossibly glamourous and adventurous lives, every outing or event is photographed and paraded for inspection. No wonder so many young people feel they cannot compete and become depressed or suicidal. And of course it’s not just the young that are affected – older people are under huge pressure to look as young as possible and to continue to compete with younger counterparts.

And who could blame them when older people are no longer valued or respected in society? One must be young, beautiful, successful, glamorous, well-travelled, always socialising and all of this must be photographed, photoshopped and paraded for your peers to examine and judge. It’s easy to see why so many sensitive souls just cannot cope.

The news is full of stories of young people who commit suicide because they fail their exams or cannot cope with keeping up with the lives they think they are supposed to live. There are many reports about shows like ‘Love Island’ where young contestants, once rejected, feel so desolate and depressed that they commit suicide. How did our society become so shallow that our young are obsessed with how they think their lives should be and older people are either also obsessed with being young or must face rejection? Loneliness amongst the old is so common it makes me ashamed of us.

Everywhere you look there are young men dieting, weighing food, working out, buying designer clothing, taking protein powders and obsessing over their physique. Young women, naturally beautiful, have ‘boob jobs’, nose jobs, collagen injections, fillers, eyebrows tattooed on, teeth braces fitted, and are often unbearably thin. The same now applies to many older people, who are encouraged to also obsess over looking as young as possible. It seems young and old alike are suffering from the same desperation – to look as young as possible. But we are all ageing – right now – it’s like swimming against the tide – time will sweep us back no matter how much we exercise, moisturise or go under the knife.

Upon examination, it’s strange that this obsession with youth and beauty is so acceptable – it is after all, pure ageism. Being old is not acceptable (being an old Brexiteer is even worse!). After all, the other discriminations have all been made taboo and are heavily legislated against (ageism too, but nothing is ever done). Racism, sexism, transgenderism, all totally unacceptable and you will not get away with it! But judge someone on their age or how attractive they are and that is perfectly normal, apparently. We must all be trying to look as good and young as possible.

Much of it is driven by the retail industry of course. Gyms, personal fitness, vitamins, cosmetic surgery – all big business. And the pressure from the media is relentless. Is it any wonder we no longer respect older people or anyone who actually looks their age? Which came first? Did this new lack of respect for older people drive all this or has the pressure to look young driven ever growing ageism? And why have we bought into it so willingly?

Why can’t we just be who we are? It is no wonder mental health issues are rising rapidly. At a time when people are literally killing themselves to compete with impossible standards, isn’t it time to instead people to develop their brains and engage with others on a deeper level?

Youth and beauty? It’ll be the death of us.

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