Beauty / Health

In ascending order: what does old age look like?

“I don’t believe in ageing, I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.”  Virginia Woolf

Anna-Wili Highfield

Artist

“At 39, I feel I’m just getting past the ‘awkward stage’. I’ve an inner ballast that was hard to find when younger. No one scares me, but I am often silly. One needs to play the dignity versus fun times carefully, but fun times are funnier than ever. Travel is more possible and renews me. My mother has never mentioned age as a negative; this is a gift she gave me. I hope to pass it on to my daughter.”

Fariha Róisín

Writer

“I hope old age looks fruitful and healed. Internal beauty is vital, and yet we don’t prioritise it nearly enough. I’m attracted to a kind of woman that doesn’t give a fuck. You know the types of older women who hold a kind of effortlessness that’s beautiful, regal and unmoved by the patriarchy. I like that sense of internal power, I gravitate towards that kind of care and precision. I have suffered from a lack of confidence my entire life. Being short and brown in Australia made me feel extremely isolated. I didn’t think that I could ever be beautiful because all the beauty standards were of white, lean and tall women around me. That’s the kind of beauty that proliferates white supremacy. As I’ve gotten older, and now that I live in New York, I’ve begun to understand that we live in a time where so many structures are collapsing – so we get to determine what’s beautiful, in a holistic sense. That’s powerful. Things are shifting, getting older (in a planetary sense too) means we’re all evolving. May we all have enough self-love that we can begin to truly heal as a planet, species and people.”

Caroline Wood

Photographer

“I hope old age looks like ‘home fires burning’ where my children and grandchildren gather.”

Anna Harrison

Contributing Editor

“The other day I learned that origin of the word ‘thrive’ means “to grasp oneself”. Unexpected but apt, I thought. Because to truly thrive as a human, to evolve in a general upward curve, really calls for a solid grasp on yourself – a self-knowledge and equanimity gained through time and experience. I think that is the most valuable thing we acquire with age. We get a grip on ourselves. We stand for who we are. We figure out what matters. So, to answer your question, that’s what I hope old age looks like: getting a grip, knowing what matters, and giving far less fucks about the things that don’t.”

Jeannie Bourke

Owner, Venustus

As my husband says, “Whenever something scares you, you know you’re alive babe.” I’ve spent a decade doing the work to feel comfortable being myself. I’ve surrounded myself with a tribe of women and men who like and appreciate me as much as I like and appreciate them. They’re what makes life magic. Going forward into ‘old age’ my life will continue to be about helping others, designing products and treatments that serve my clients, and doing all that I love to do. The personal goals I live by now won’t change: to stay present in the flow of change, to feel supreme love for all that happens and all that is, and to be responsible for my behaviour in this life.

Elise Pioch Balzac

Founder, Maison Balzac

“I have already entered old age since I left my 30s and it has not made any difference to my mind or thinking. If anything, ageing has allowed me to be more accepting, kinder to myself and others, and to connect with the present in a way that I didn’t think was possible. As an old lady, I imagine myself holding hands with Pablo, my husband, and travelling the world to follow our daughter’s adventures (we are sure she will be an adventurer); I will be wise and will not miss an opportunity to remind younger people to achieve the impossible and to love unconditionally.”

Joanne Palmaro

Actor

“Living each day to the fullest, dancing even when there’s no music, and showing the world that wrinkles are not only elegant – they’re a sign of a life well lived, and an older woman’s most stylish accessory.”

Flex Mami

Presenter / DJ

“I hope old age looks as vibrant and lovely as my youth has. It’s going to be full of all the necessary signs of ageing that society has conditioned us to loathe and then some. But contrary to popular belief we won’t dislike it, we’ll probably like it or, even better, feel neutral towards it. Capitalism wants us all to hate ourselves so bad, and it’s easier not to when you are young and have features ‘worth’ celebrating. Being a fierce elderly menace is going to be empowering.”

Hannah Scott-Stevenson

Photographer

“I hope old age is crowded. With family and loved ones, memories and photographs. And trinkets from travels. With the wisdom to truly appreciate time and the knowledge of how not to waste it.”

Jessica Gomes

Model

“I hope old age looks like myself. Hopefully by then I won’t care and I’ll be so happy, full of wisdom and have experienced so much that looks just won’t matter. It would be all about my memories and the movie I have playing in my mind and spirit. It would be a BIG Vibe! Hopefully a Wes Anderson type scenario. Getting old is cool!”

Clockwise from bottom left: Lauren Hutton, 2006, PHOTOGRAPHY Steve Granitz, GETTY IMAGES; Grace Jones, 2019, PHOTOGRAPHY Peter White, GETTY IMAGES; Bianca Jagger, 2017, PHOTOGRAPHY Patrick Kovarik, GETTY IMAGES; Anita Pallenberg, 2007, PHOTOGRAPHY Fred Duval, GETTY IMAGES; Michele Lamy, 2019, PHOTOGRAPHY Pierre Suu, GETTY IMAGES; Linda Rodin, 2014, PHOTOGRAPHY Vivien Killilea, GETTY IMAGES; Helen Mirren, 2019, REX FEATURES; VIVIENNE WESTWOOD SS19, IMAXTREE.COM; Jane Birkin, 2017, PHOTOGRAPHY Laurent Viteur, GETTY IMAGES; Vivienne Westwood, 2019, REX FEATURES.