On Monday I attended a panel discussion at the London College of Fashion on the Beauty of Age. The session was chaired by Professor Frances Corner, Head of London College of Fashion, and the panellists offered a variety of perspectives on the subject of women and ageing. Lesley Reynolds Kahn, co-founder of Harley Street Skin Clinic and the author of Look Younger for Longer, was an interesting contrast with Harriet Walter, actress and author of Facing It: Reflections on Images of Older Women. Robin Wight, President of creative communications agency Engine and co-founder of ad agency WCRS, insisted that it was biology rather than media influences which were to blame for society’s desire for youth, but Natasha Walter, broadcaster and author of Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, wasn’t so sure. It was an interesting discussion, inspired by the Beauty of Age project at LCF’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion.
“It is well documented that British society, like all Western societies, is an ageing one. By 2034, 23% of the UK population will be aged 65 and over (Office for National Statistics). This large, but quite invisible demographic tends to be in the public focus mostly in relation to their health issues. To change that perspective, we have started a series of projects based on valuing the wisdom and the Beauty of Age.”
Why is beauty synonymous with youth? Why are are western societies obsessed with halting the ageing process and looking younger than our years? When did getting older become such a bad thing? It is wonderful to see this subject become a hot discussion topic and also the focus of research. Perhaps magazines and other mainstream media might latch on to this idea soon and help us all to appreciate the beauty of age once more. When hair turns grey and skin begins to wrinkle, this shows we have lived and have more to offer the world, not less. There is great beauty in an older face and body as well as an older mind. It is about time we realised this.
Image from pedrosimoes7‘s Flickr photostream.