It is somewhat amusing to consider how dramatically we humans receive the idea of ageing. We could probably even put it under the Top-Five-Things-That-Cause-People-Of-The-Western-World-To-Freak-The-Fuck-Out category, alongside religion, extraterrestrial life and Miley Cyrus. We pop out the womb all pure and perfect, only to be weathered by the harsh elements of the world with each year that we live, grow and experience – and so begins the lifelong circus of obsession to regain control of our change. I think that’s the operative word: control. Perhaps age issues are simply a matter of fear induced by a lack of this stuff. When are young, we want to be older, and when we are old, we want to be younger, and we can’t legitimately attain what we want so we become even more desperate to do so. Is there such a thing as ageing gracefully, or is this simply a myth fed to adults the way Santa is fed to children? And moreover, should we even digest what we’re fed? Perhaps vanity is underrated. After all, everyone loves a good Band-Aid. What interests me is that ageing issues are almost a common denominator in the equation of human meltdowns, but how they are handled varies depending on the poor schmuck who suffers from them.
Firstly, there’s the physical side: both the physical affects of ageing, and the physical changes we choose to inflict upon ourselves in an effort to cope with ageing. It all comes down to science: gravity is a force that pulls everything on this earth (tits and balls included) back down towards it. We don’t have a choice, and yet, we consistently try to make one anyway. We pay people to jab our crow’s feet with Botox, to mask our grey hairs with artificial colouring, to scoop our boobs up from our bellies and fix them back on our chests. And for what purpose? To transform our bodies into stiff, puffy mannequins that resemble prehistoric mammals more closely than they resemble the young person they used to be. There seems to me to be very little point in wrestling with Mother Nature; that bitch can bench-press you, your whole family, and everything on the planet at the same time – and your body is merely an imminent natural disaster.
I suppose you could argue that at least the cosmetic surgery advocates have acknowledged their ageing, unlike those who slip deeply into the dark abyss of denial. Take my grandmother, for instance. The woman came runner up in a Sexy Legs competition in her twenties, and ever since, has refused to wear pants of any kind. In fact, she’s refused to wear anything that isn’t a skirt cut two inches above the knee and, even now at god-knows-how-old (she turns seventy every year), still adheres to this rule. Nevertheless, what is unnecessary to some may be comforting to others, and who are we to judge? Aside from the momentary visual challenges of looking at a woman with spherical eyelids or an old lady’s saggy lower-thigh, the whole thing doesn’t really affect other people. Anyone caught in the tornado of unavoidable change is unlikely to care for reason – the safety of youth has left their side and they now walk alone, just a little older, just a little uglier. When standing in the face of fear, fearing our own faces, we all react differently and as long as that reaction doesn’t include a homicidal spree or an arson debut or something equally evil, then, do what you need to do. As they say, to each their own [coping mechanism].
Perhaps, we are all just like Narcissus, unable to leave the beauty of our past reflection and thus often dying in front of the proverbial mirror. Or perhaps we’re all just a victim of our own minds, desperately searching for improvement despite our biological deterioration. I suppose this can all be pinpointed back to the media and the brainwashing and modern society’s idea of perfection and beauty and blah blah blah. But really, while we may not all choose think independently, we’re all capable of doing so. We all lead unique lives, making unique mistakes, and our unique burdens are our own to bear. It seems far-fetched that a person should develop an obsession purely because they were told to, even subliminally. We’re not monkeys, for fuck’s sake. Well, you know, anymore. The point is, if you want to pull a Goldie Hawn and turn your face into a Pre-Primary art project, then that’s you’re call. If you want to ditch demure and wear your teenage daughter’s skanky hand-me-ups, then that’s your call. Maybe, just maybe, ageing gracefully means ageing however you damn well please.
Sarah is the editor in chief of HOMME