Breakfast host on The Hits, columnist for nzherald.co.nz Life & Style.

Polly Gillespie: How do you age gracefully?

Who determines what ageing gracefully means, asks Polly. Photo / Supplied
Who determines what ageing gracefully means, asks Polly. Photo / Supplied

Of course Joanna Lumley is ageing gracefully. She's an ex-model and one of the most beautiful women on the planet. Plus, she wants to be taken seriously now. She could cut her hair off and pull out her teeth and she'd still be 800 times hotter than most of us.

Ageing gracefully. How do you do it? Why do you do it? Who determines what gracefully is? and does it mean "Please remove all signs of your sexuality and slowly fade back into the shadows!"

Ageing gracefully. My partner who is a few years younger than me always says "Just keep doing what you're doing babe. You look great. I love the mane of hair! I love the waxing and the Botox. Just keep doing your thing!" The thing is, I do like looking after my skin, and although I appreciate lines and grey hair on other people, I'm not keen on them myself.

My mother is still glam in her 80s. She was glam all her life. Mum never went out the front door without hair, makeup and pumps. I know other women sometimes felt bitter towards my mum.

Once, when she and some other 60-year-olds went on a European bus trip she was labelled "glamour puss", and not in a jolly way. More the way that other women spit the words when one woman is getting all the male attention (not a fair fight. Five elderly women to every elderly man!)

Whenever my picture comes out in a magazine, which is of course photoshopped to get rid of warts and spinach between my teeth, I get a slew of messages and emails from women vilifying me for not ageing gracefully.

Hmmmm, confusing. Graceful can surely include skincare, makeup and Botox? Does gracefully suddenly translate to "letting go of all effort and hope?" Why is it more graceful to look older than you need to? Why is it graceful to let your eyelids fall over your eyeballs? Oh, and if you do want to age quickly, whose business is that either? Why is it graceful to get hard lines of unhappiness? Surely ageing gracefully is finding beauty and joy whether it be internal or external or both. It's allowing other women to age the way they choose. It's admiring all types of ageing women with interest as opposed to anger. Ageing gracefully is surely laughing freely, relishing life, embracing sexuality, loving passionately or quietly and maybe - but not necessarily - a mil or two of Botox, if that's your thing.

Something I know for sure is that ageing gracefully is NOT messaging other women with your personal critique of their looks. That's not graceful, that's just weird and fundamentally judgmental and highly inappropriate. Do those same beauty critics also message women with grey hair and say, "look, love, I've been thinking about it and you should dye your hair brown. You'd look 20 years younger!" Maybe they do. Folk are after all queer...

Do men have to age gracefully? I dare say, no. None of The Rolling Stones or Jack Nicholson are ageing gracefully. They are skidding into home plate with a cigar in one hand, bourbon in the other, and pants pistol-cocked and at the ready for any woman at least thirty years younger.

Let's age any way we like and just judge people on their ability to help raise other people up, whether that be their children, society, or people at their rock bottom. Beauty has nothing to do with how you choose to look when you kick this mortal bucket! It's all about being graceful in our dealings with other people and that means keeping nasty comments about how other people age to ourselves!

- NZME.

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Breakfast host on The Hits, columnist for nzherald.co.nz Life & Style.

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