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Beauty Over 40

The power of image is undeniable, especially those images we see repeatedly. One image that dominates our lives is a woman’s face – in magazines, on television, in outdoor advertising, all over department stores.  The images are relatively similar – she’s usually in her early 20s with a perfect complexion. It’s this image that we take into our subconscious as being ‘beautiful’. 

For most of us, when we look in the mirror, we are presented with quite a different image. As a result, we can often see ourselves as unattractive. What if we had an image that countered the 20-something, airbrushed, wrinkle-free offering? Would that change how we see our own face? There are plenty of studies on the effect of advertising and editorials on the female body image, but the face seems to be a less explored topic; so we decided to run an experiment at the woman with drive office.

We bought books that showed beautiful women over 40, one in particular called “The Make Up Wake Up” which teaches women over 40 years of age how to apply make-up. It includes some gorgeous images of older famous faces such as Cheryl Tiegs, Patti Hansen and Sigourney Weaver. We have included images beside this article as examples. I photocopied these images and carried them around with me; I popped them on the fridge and kept more beside the mirror. 

After just two days of regularly studying these images, I felt different. I was inspired to start using the make-up tips the authors offered – maybe because I saw that beauty over 40 was real and attainable. 

We decided to investigate further and read another book called “Face It”, written by two ex-models turned psychologists – Dr Vivian Diller and Dr Jill Muir-Sukenick. The book makes some useful points about the way most women cope with an ageing face – not very well, it turns out. The authors draw a parallel between the trauma of adolescence, and that of midlife. At adolescence, you are challenged by a changing body and face as you move into adulthood. Whereas at midlife, you are saying goodbye to the face and body of your youth. Many of the coping mechanisms used in adolescence (alcoholism, sexual experimentation, food and isolation), are also used as coping mechanisms at midlife.

So what can you do to embrace your new beauty over 40, one that is born of confidence and depth, rather than superficial looks alone? Here are some recommendations:

1. Surround yourself with images of gorgeous older women. This balances the barrage of youthful images you receive from the media and advertisers.

2. Show pride in your appearance – good make-up and flattering clothes are important. Reinventing your look can also be fun.

3. Realise that there is no fountain of youth – not even through surgery. A 60-year-old with good plastic surgery generally looks like a 60-year-old with good plastic surgery.

4. Look back at old photos of yourself with pride. Remember and celebrate your youthful looks, but always remember how much wiser you are now.

5. Remember that confidence is sexy. Walk tall and with pride, it’s attractive at every age.

6. Find comfort in the knowledge that we are all in this together. Studies have shown that most women (even gorgeous women) grieve for their youthful looks at some point. Learn to talk more with friends and family about acceptance and celebration of the older face.

If you have daughters, the graceful transition through midlife is even more important. As Naomi Wolf said, “A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.”


Stay tuned for more articles written specifically for smart women over 40.

To buy the book Make up – Wake up here is the link to Amazon:



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