The Beauty In A Wrinkle | Guest Post by The Fiftyist

Julie Kneafsey aka The Fiftyist
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As part of our commitment to supporting other women we love to hear from you, and share your thoughts, experiences and stories. So we're delighted to share with you our latest guest article, by Julie Kneafsey - aka The Fiftyist - who shares with her wonderfully candid and witty experience of embracing ageing and the beauty of a wrinkle and what each stands for.

The late and beautiful model, Cindy Joseph, said: "Ageing is just another word for living."

Nowadays though, it’s not that easy. It’s difficult to age and live authentically in a society which exerts incessant pressure on us to have wrinkle free, anti-aged faces.

So I have a question…

Do you have any wrinkles? A few? How do they make you feel? Do they horrify you? Do you see them as your enemy to be battled with or defeated? Or are you at the other end of the spectrum and don’t even think about them?

If you don’t have any wrinkles, you haven’t laughed enough – Phyllis Diller

When it comes down to it, a wrinkle is just an area where muscles supporting our skin have lost volume due to age, and the skin on top has lost its elasticity due to a natural loss of collagen/dehydration over time. When you add in the repetitive expressions we make continuously, like laughing and frowning, we are left with gradually more mini concertina’d areas on our faces, hands, knees, tummies and elbows. But, according to recent and not so recent societal perspectives, wrinkles are horrifying. They are persona non grata to be cancelled at any cost, to be anti-wrinkled out of existence by an expensive emulsion, dissolved by acids, immobilised by ‘safe’ poison and stretched and sliced away by surgeons.

They shouldn’t be seen if at all possible as this means we’ll show our age and lose our value. And if we are not seen to be taking these measures against our wrinkles, there must be something wrong with us – we’re not deeming ourselves ‘worth it’.

Women, particularly, grow up with a fear of ageing. We are raised to believe youth is the only life period that’s of value, and that if we allow wrinkles to appear on our faces we will be pitied and eventually completely ignored by society. And the likely resulting depression induced by our potential impending invisibility makes us more likely to buy the anti-ageing products promoted to us by the more cynical of our beauty companies to save us from this unfortunate situation. Phew.  There’s shame involved too. Shame in showing up with normally lined skin, as if you’ve ‘let yourself go’.

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come – William Shakespeare

Well, I’m here to zoom in on mine. I’m not ashamed to say it - my name is Julie and I have wrinkles. They aren’t all over my face yet, and I enjoy using nice creams (clean beauty is my thing). I take care of my skin (for transparency, I have hyperpigmentation and rosacea flare ups and use retinol) and in all honesty, I don’t love my wrinkles, but I certainly don’t see them as an enemy.

For fun, I thought I’d give you a tour around my appalling facial wrinkles – you know, the ones I’m supposed to hate, the ones I’m most definitely not supposed to show, and the ones society has historically incited horror about in us all.

Let’s start with my crow’s feet:

These are lovely crescent shaped arcs (also called lateral canthal lines) that wing out from the corners of my eyes. I gained them from smiling and laughing at friends’ jokes, larking around like a four-year-old with my daughter and howling at my husband’s marriage-long jokes and silly karate chop movements. They are testament to my love of humour, and the way happiness has shown on my face for my entire life – I really love to smile. At times they are also squinting, winking and wincing lines – super handy expressions, especially when you have children.


My eleven lines (glabellar lines):

two powerful dynamic little wrinkles who live comfortably between my brows and have become ingrained by: my expressed concern for others; my worry about something happening, like the cancer I have been through twice; the loss of a family member last year; the long-term trials of the menopause, bringing up a child, crying and navigating life. I show my empathy, displeasure, anger, sadness and compassion through these little lines: a smorgasbord of emotion that, I feel, is intrinsic to my ability to communicate with my fellow humans.


Smile lines (nasolabial folds):

these are carved lightly into my cheeks like tiny, cupped hands and have become permanent residents as they repeatedly help my smile reach its full potential. I love to smile, laugh and show my understanding and appreciation by using them and care not a jot that there’s a permanent remnant of the line there. These lines are sketched by joy, my appreciation of comedy, a lifetime’s communication through talk, important speeches, chats and shouts of shock and dismay.


My neck:

here’s a tough one. No one likes to see the wrinkles gather here in such an obvious place, but my neck lines (platysmal bands) are the result of my ‘head down’ work years looking down at a computer, cooking, watching Netflix slouched on the sofa, of using too little sunscreen (but what fun I had!), gardening, walking and of life.

My looks have changed. I have laugh lines, not wrinkles - Iman.

The emotions we feel become ingrained on our faces like a script and although we may not always like them, they are what we scribed. Trying to block them or fill them out can lead at times to a face that is able to show fewer expressions. Now, everyone has their own path in life, and if tweakments or surgery is yours, then crack on, because I’m all for what makes people happy – especially if it doesn’t hurt anyone. If most of us end up losing one of the most precious things about being a human though, it would be a sad day. Ageing isn’t a crime, and being made to feel less than worthy, or imperfect if you allow wrinkles to appear on your face, shouldn’t be the default.

Imagine a world where showing compassion through expression becomes abnormal and everyone’s face can only make a few expressions. Young girls are already saturated with images of perfection, and the temptation to cancel more and more expressions as they age seems like a very real probability. We are becoming more and more disconnected from what is real, and more aligned with what big business would like us to be for profit. So sad when it’s possible to make an incredible number of expressions. Human facial expressions are one of the most important non-verbal ways we communicate.

Paul Ekman, the psychology professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco, has spend 40 years studying human facial expressions. He has catalogued more than 10,000 possible combinations of facial muscle movements that reveal what a person is feeling inside. 

Isn’t that impressive?  On a humorous note, I love the quotation about the famously inscrutable actor, Katherine Hepburn, who was once described by the critic Dorothy Parker as being able to run ‘the gamut of expressions from A to B’. Amusing stuff, but in reality, each of our faces has its own way of presenting emotions that makes it unique.

So why is it such a problem to distil these down to just a few expressions with Botox, fillers and surgery? Because along the way we erode something else: the richness of expressed life – the joy, the nuances, the fleeting micro-expressions that communicate tiny emotions, and all for the imposed pressure to be younger than we are. I wonder if we are losing something – is it all ‘worth it’? 

I have wrinkles which are very evident. I will particularly say when I look at movie posters, “You guys have airbrushed my forehead. Please change it back” – Kate Winslett

Times are changing with the pro-age movement gathering momentum, the #AgeismIsNeverInStyle hashtag helping to expose prejudice, and prominent women like Paulina Porizkova, who is ageing visibly without tweaks and writes and campaigns about this issue. Oscar winning actors Jamie Lee Curtis and Michele Yeoh are also an encouragement to women across the world of late, with the long-awaited acceptance and valuing of their contribution by the film industry. The success we have watched them celebrate can only open doors for others. 

It's clear that things are moving in both directions, there’s a push and pull, and feelings around this subject run high. My personal journey is to sit comfortably with my wrinkles and to resist the pressure to erase them, despite being in a prominent online space. 

What I do see clearly, and with a keen sense of the passing of time enhanced by two breast cancer diagnoses, is that spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about wrinkles because of societal pressure, feeling like we should go through procedures to hide them, feeling embarrassed if they are seen and enduring the constant anxiety of living with them, is such a waste of our precious time, emotions and money, and is definitely damaging to our self-esteems.

So why not join me in my quest? Let’s just experience life without the stress, and let’s run that gamut of emotions from A to Z!

About The Author:

Julie Kneafsey - aka The Fiftyist - is a silver-haired content creator, who having an absolute blast on social media at 56. 

Having formerly worked in education, Julie left in 2021 to write and be more creative. Almost immediately she was diagnosed with a second breast cancer (after 20 years) and her health and fitness were derailed for almost two years. Julie is now emerging at the other end of that now, and is back on track!

Julie's journey left her with an insatiable quest to stack the health odds in her favour by eating and living in as healthy a way as possible. Researching and posting about this spills over into all areas of Julie's life and she loves where it is taking her. She loves researching clean makeup and self-care products and have been lucky to be able to create content with some great brands. Julie is writing a never-ending book and love scribing articles for guest blogs and for Tangled Silver – an online magazine aimed specifically at women with silver hair.   

Julie's holistic journey started with her transition to silver hair in 2018 and it will be a focus for the rest of her life. Online, she is keen to have as much fun as she can while sharing her findings in the hope that it may be of use to others who feel the same.

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