Make this Valentine's Day all about you!
In this blog I talk about why we should love and appreciate our laughter lines for what they are: signs of all the fun and laughter in your life.
I’m fascinated by how we feel about how we look. I know that a confident woman radiates beauty, regardless of her physical appearance.
Yet the beauty industry sets a very high ‘standard’ of appearance.
According to the industry, to be beautiful is to have a flawless complexion, an even skin tone, be wrinkle-free, and look young for our years. One advert even claims that our hair shows seven signs of ageing.
But this standard of beauty is unattainable (can you name one person who has perfect skin?). This digitally enhanced standard of beauty is literally an illusion. Every woman and man in every image you see in the media is airbrushed. We know this.
Cindy Crawford once said “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford”, referring to the images of herself in adverts.
Although I formulate and sell my own natural skincare range, I hate being part of an industry that uses marketing-hype to exacerbate our insecurities about the way we look. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m a Chartered Psychologist because I like to help people feel better about themselves.
There are hundreds of anti-ageing skincare products on the market. In fact sales of anti-ageing skincare products make up 41.6% of the facial skincare market (2013). That’s a lot of low self-esteem.
But it’s easy to fall for the promises of rejuvenation, regeneration, renewal, recovery, age-defy, age-lift, wrinkle-lift, wrinkle repair, wrinkle decrease, or youth-code.
After you’ve applied your miracle moisturiser with its pseudo-scientific promise, you can then use a miracle foundation. Oooh.
Take Clinique's Beyond Perfection foundation as an example. It’s described on their website as: "A foundation-and-concealer in one for a natural, beyond perfected look that lasts all day... you get such a flawless perfected finish. For skin beyond flawless”.
You get a little bit excited about the prospect of looking “perfected" AND “beyond flawless”. Wow. Yes please! That’s a huge claim and my rosacea-pink skin is in desperate need of a miracle.
But of course, it’s only a foundation, not a miracle worker. At best it evens out skin tone and covers some blemishes, but ultimately you still look like you, just with make-up on.
Do you call Clinique and say “Excuse me, you promised I’d look beyond perfected and beyond flawless, I demand my money back”. No. That would be deeply embarrassing.
Instead, you sigh, feeling stupid that you fell for the marketing hype, and then you resign yourself to the fact that you’re face will continue to age in a way that it wants to.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good moisturiser and I wear make-up - I like to cover my rosacea-pink skin before leaving the house. It’s nice to know that I can go from looking like corned-beef with eyes to looking relatively normal, in a matter of minutes.
I just hate marketing hype. The false promises. Words like “perfected” and “flawless” suggest that we are by default imperfect and flawed. No wonder our self-esteem is on the floor (with the rise in body image issues, and kids as young as 5 saying they’re unhappy with their appearance).
But I know I’m not going to look perfect or flawless or younger. I’m just going to look slightly more ‘normal’. I don’t suppose naming a new foundation “Slightly More Normal” would sell as much.
FACTS: The fine lines around your eyes will get deeper and longer as you age. Collagen and elastin production in the skin slows down as we age, making the skin crinkle and seem thinner. Ageing is the most natural process in the world.
Hang on... if ageing is the most natural process in the whole world that happens to all living things, why should I feel ashamed of having lines on my face?
You shouldn’t. Absolutely nothing is wrong with having wrinkles. They are simply the byproduct of ageing and a sign that you’ve laughed a lot.
Mine are a permanent reminder of all the times I’ve laughed, and the times I’ve laughed so hard tears have rolled down my face.
I still laugh at French & Saunders sketches from 1988. I laugh at things my friend’s toddler says, memes on facebook, Ruby Wax, Bridget Christie. My own jokes.
So instead of trying desperately to banish your laughter lines, be glad you have them.
What’s the one thing that makes you laugh? What last made you laugh out loud? What memory always brings a smile to your face?
Next time you’re in front of the mirror wondering if your anti-ageing cream is working, take a moment to remember all the fun and good times.
Then remember to be grateful for those happy moments. Life’s too short to take them for granted.
What’s the one thing that makes you smile? What makes you laugh out loud? Spread the love and write your anecdote, joke or story below, or tweet @MakeItMIMI using #LaughterLinesStory