I was in Tesco the other day, waiting in the self-service checkout queue. As I stood there trying to drown out that woman’s infernal ‘something unexpected in bagging area’ which, frankly, makes me want to put something very unexpected up her area more than anything else, I overheard two girls. One of them was saying how beautiful she thought some woman was, to which the other one replied: “but she’s got wrinkles!” Now, I didn’t see this woman’s face so I am in no position to judge- nor do I particularly want to. Like most average looking people I declare beauty as lying within (while secretly crying myself to sleep every night because I don’t look like Liv Tyler. I don’t quite see what Liv Tyler ever did to deserve to look like Liv Tyler and if she ever comes to Egham I will take this matter up with her.) However, I’m not Liv Tyler, and what struck me as odd about this conversation was the fact that any potential beauty in this woman was immediately denied by the fact she had wrinkles. This seemed a strange remark to make considering, well, wrinkles are a bit like that novel Fifty Shades of Grey. We can all say we’re never going to get it, but sooner or later we are. We can wear loads of make-up, say ‘I’m 29, honestly’, and cover the damning front cover with the cover of Thackery’s Vanity Fair – I confused my metaphors, I apologise- but underneath it all we’ve got wrinkles. And a self-loathing desire to read that bloody novel.
Think of wrinkles as some alien invasion movie (it kind of works, and definitely makes it seem more exciting). They’re coming, they really are and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. They’re out there, floating around in space like silver strings of tinsel, getting ever closer on the horizon, and one day they’ll land on our face. But wrinkles aren’t aliens, they’re not going to suck our brains out, so instead of dreading that day, instead of spending hundreds of pounds on some ‘you’ll-look-as-young-as-you-did-in-the-womb’ cream, we could just change our attitude. Why are they such a terrible thing? Personally, I think wrinkles are pretty cool. Wrinkles are a sign you’ve lived, a sign you’ve smiled; wrinkles say I have made it to old age without falling off a cliff or tripping over a piece of dust or choking on air and dying. Wrinkles say I survived all the evils of the world, even the fashion for shoulder pads. Wrinkles say I was here before you, so there. They’re a constant way of sticking your tongue out at younger people.
Think of the power rush you got in year 11 when you were given your prefect tie. It sat on your neck, a glowing beacon, declaring to all those annoying Year Sevens that you were here first, that you knew better, that you were cleverer, cooler, and just generally better at life than them. Think of wrinkles as a prefect tie, maybe a prefect tie that hasn’t been ironed in a while, but a prefect tie all the same. Why is it that at school being the oldest translates to being the best, but the minute you hit forty it becomes something to be ashamed of? It’s not like the fun stops. Elderly people- and their wrinkles- still have fun. They tend to get away with everything, they can say what they want, eat four scones in a row, and get up to go for a pee half way through a church service and it’s okay. They’ve lived a long time and therefore they’ve earned the right to do whatever they want to- and always get a seat on the bus.
And yet, one in three women in the UK uses an anti-ageing product. According to a report in the Huffington Post UK women spend, on average, £24,000 on anti-ageing products in their lifetime. Just think how many shoes could be bought with that. You could afford to build a house of cheese, eat it, and then build another one. Men don’t have to invest in these creams, and they already don’t have to buy tampons- their Jaffa Cake allowance is already much higher than ours. We shouldn’t let society waste any more of our potential Jaffa Cake spending money. We shouldn’t let it convince us that there is anything else we have to buy in order to be beautiful. Beauty existed before Boots; the word beautiful is incredibly old, and so are beautiful people. These corporations are quite literally making money by convincing us, continually, that we aren’t good enough, and that the natural cycle of life is somehow ugly and wrong. Walk straight past the ‘you’ll-look-as-if-you-never-smiled-in-your-life’ moisturiser and spend that £8.99 on Maltesers.
I have respect for wrinkles. I find it a personal miracle that somebody as clumsy as me has made it to 21. If I ever get a wrinkle I am going to be so impressed with myself I might even hold a party. The world is full of dangers. It has cars and lampposts and doors and so many objects that can fall on you or hit you in the face or trip you up. Living to an age in which you start getting wrinkles is an absolute achievement. I salute you, soldier, for negotiating the minefield that is life and not stepping on a banana skin or into a hole and bowing out at only eighteen. Wait, excitedly, for your first wrinkle, and when you get it, be proud. In fact, I’m writing to Clintons after this and suggesting a ‘CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST WRINKLE’ card. It’s time we changed our attitude; age is nothing to be ashamed of: being born is to the credit of our mothers, making it to eighty is entirely down to us.