I was reading the other day about an iconic beauty now in her eighties who apparently some years ago underwent a cosmetic procedure by which all the skin on her face was peeled off, leaving her with only her baby skin layer.
I never knew that this was the reason why she looked so ageless, I thought it was the effect of great cheekbones, good make up and some artful photoshopping.
I found this piece of news deeply disturbing.
It seems that this kind of cosmetic procedure is no longer available because of the risks involved - thank god for that! To maintain her baby skin, we are told, she has to have regular fortnightly silicon injections.
The result is a face that looks like time never touched her. She has turned herself into a goddess, as only gods and goddesses never grow old. At least, that's the idea.
But wait. Gods and goddesses never die. There is a discrepancy here. Despite the deep dermabrasion and the silicon, this woman is still a mortal. Unless she has had the whole procedure done to the entire body, hands and feet included (possible, but unlikely) there is clearly a disparity between the skin on her face and the skin on the rest of her body, which remains eighty plus. Her body is always covered up, all we ever see in pictures is her ageless face.
This is no goddess, but a human like us. Owing to the ageing process, her bones are inevitably frailer than they used to be and joints need greater attention. Muscles too tend to lose tone as we grow older, we can engage in a resistance-training programme to defuse and slow down the effects of sarcopenia but there is no question that ageing involves deep changes in the body. Some people even lose a little height as they age.
Her baby skin means she has to take care of her face and protect it as much as possible - think of newborns, they need to be sheltered from the sun, their skin is so sensitive and delicate.
Don't get me wrong. Everyone is free to do whatever they like to their body and if having baby skin and a plastic doll face makes this woman happy and keeps her in business, this is fine by me. I admire her sense of purpose and I believe her face is very beautiful indeed, not because of the cosmetic procedure, but because of her natural bone structure.
Yet I can't help wondering about what underpins this quest for eternal youth. Growing old is feared and abhorred, the idea here is to stop the ageing process completely, turn oneself into an ageless being, akin to mythological gods and goddesses.
The great actress Greta Garbo, goddess of the silver screen, retired before anyone could see her face getting wrinkled and lived like a recluse for the rest of her life. All that people would remember was her perfect face as it appeared in the films in which she starred.
Am I chasing a hopeless dream in wanting to see the fear of growing old fully eradicated from consciousness, if at all possible? Ageing is part of living. Older faces and older bodies are not ugly, they are simply old. What's wrong with our society, that we regard older people as useless and ugly beings? That we should feel under the pressure to try to hold on to youth to the point of harming ourselves in the process?
But let's not despair. There are those who are not swayed. Look at Daphne Selfe, who at eighty three, still models and does not attempt to look like a younger version of herself nor does she try to convey a message of eternal youth.
I am all for taking care of oneself, exercising, eating sensibly, being active. But completely stopping the ageing process?
No, thank you. I do not wish to buy into the 'forever young' dream. I am not a goddess and don't aspire to be one. I am a woman, happy with my mortality.