Kate Middleton has borne the brunt of some online trolling after her appearance at The National Service of Remembrance this past Sunday, with many commenting how her face looked ‘tired and rundown,’ how she is ‘aging terribly’ and that she looks ‘tired and fed up’.
Princess Kate is 41! She is also a working mom of three who was pictured attending a very somber occasion, so she has a reason to look ‘tired and fed up.’ At least we can see her expressions and read her feelings in her face. I personally thought that she looked beautiful, smart and dignified.
The problem is that we are just not used to seeing what real aging looks like anymore. Instead, we have become accustomed to scrolling through overly filtered faces on Instagram and Tik Tok, and smooth, crease-free, expressionless complexions have become the norm. So when we are faced with a woman like Kate, who has a few lines and shows her emotions and expressions in her face, she automatically looks ‘tired, old and sad.’
It is not surprising that our perception of age is becoming so warped. And technology plays a big role in that. Seemingly flawless Instagram models and influencers boast unattainable features that are challenging to achieve for a teenager, let alone for someone in their forties or beyond. And now we also have the added popularity of AI beauty influencers like Lil Miquela and Milia Sofia who look human at first glance, but actually only exist in the metaverse. In fact, according to some studies, some people even think that these computer generated influencers look more real than actual human faces.
As a 47 year old Beauty Editor and mom of 2, I, too, just like Kate, show my feelings on my face and I am proud of it! In fact, I have been rebelling from this warped reality of beauty for a few years now. I used to work at magazines, directing unretouched beauty and cover shoots that portrayed real beauty without the distortion of a face-slimming filter or re-touch pen. And like Kate, I have also experienced ageist trolling thanks to my expression-full face that, dare I say it, looks its age. One of my followers even commented that I ‘need to not make those wrinkles on your forehead while you talk’ because it is ugly.
The good news is that I am not the only one becoming frustrated with these unrealistic beauty standards as the beauty industry seems to be embracing a more ‘normal’ stance on aging too.
Just this week, Oscar-winning British actress Helen Mirren, 78 joined forces with L’Oreal Paris to front their British ‘We’re Age Perfect’ campaign which celebrates the joy of being the best version of you at whatever age you are. And 58-year-old Sarah Jessica Parker, who is an ambassador for RoC skincare, has also voiced her frustrations with society’s obsession with women and aging. In an interview with Vogue Paris, she said: "I don't see the point of trying to suspend time…At times I have the impression that others may be more concerned about my appearance, which is rather strange. Like the fact that I have wrinkles or white hair...One day I was sitting next to a very close friend, a woman younger than me. I wasn't wearing any make-up, my hair was pulled back in a bun, with some gray hair, and it caused quite a fuss.”
So I am thankful for women like Kate, Helen and Sarah for proving to us all that aging can really be a sign of beauty, and not something to hide or be ashamed of. Those expressions that we saw on Kate’s face last week showed not just her age but her strength, resilience, compassion and warmth as well. In a society where youth is the ultimate goal, it’s time to change the narrative. And I am here for it!