I was in the UK recently, and I noticed that older people seemed a lot more relaxed about their age than we are here in the U.S. Oh sure, Harrod’s in London has its share of wealthy, aging shoppers who have had hair transplants and lip injections. But the majority of men and women elders you see on the Tube (London’s underground rail system) or on the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland seem perfectly content with their aging faces and thinning hair. Men let wispy, gray strands fly about their ears, women put on just a bit of powder and lipstick, then go right out the door. And they both wear sturdy shoes.
I have a theory about this. I think people in the UK are less troubled than we are about their aging bodies and they way they look because they have the perfect aging role model staring them in the face every day. I’m talking about the Queen.
Her picture is everywhere. You just can’t miss the image of a 92-year-old Queen Elizabeth looking not only comfortable, but actually happy with her 92-year-old self. The Queen has never worried about her graying hair. She’s never had a facelift. In fact, she’s even been seen in a babushka out on her Buckingham Palace lawn, tending to her Welsh corgis. Back when she had corgis. And she didn’t seem a bit perturbed about the impression she was making.
Over here in the U.S. our older icons, mostly movie stars, have had facelifts and body sculpting. Even older male movie stars dye their hair. With that strange, reddish tint. A lot of older icons in this country don’t want you to know they’re getting older. They want you to think they never age. The result is that the rest of us who are old feel bad.
So I’ll take the across-the-pond view of aging any day. Feel free to let your gray hair fly. Don’t worry about the wrinkles around your eyes. And smile back at those posters of Queen Elizabeth. She’s on your side.