What if Wrinkles Were Beautiful?

“What if people liked wrinkles?” I say to my girls. “What if wrinkles were thought to be beautiful? If I looked in the mirror and discovered a new line, I’d smile and say, ‘My face is maturing nicely!'”

My husband Andy grins. “Like a lump of cheese!”

But 12-year-old Gemma-Rose doesn’t smile. She screws up her cute freckle-sprinkled nose and says, “My face would be ugly.”  I don’t think she likes my latest thought. 

But I do.

Yes, imagine if wrinkles were beautiful. Oh, I know some people already think old faces are beautiful. They’re full of character. An older person’s inner beauty shines out overriding their wrinkles. But what if everyone, not just a few, like you, thought this way? 

It’s strange how wrinkles suddenly appear. One day I was young and good looking. (“You look too young to have so many children!”) The next, I had lines and wrinkles. That’s how it happened. At least, that’s how it seemed. I didn’t like my new older appearance, so I stopped looking at my face. I now avoid looking in the mirror.

“Hey, Mum!” says Sophie as we’re lacing up our shoes. “Did you know you have your t-shirt on inside out?”

“No,” I reply. “I can’t see myself. I didn’t look in the mirror.”

“Are you going to turn it in the right way?”

“No, I can’t be bothered. No one will see me. We’re only going running. Who else will be out at this time of the morning?”

Our neighbour. Yes, we met our neighbour walking her dog. We stopped and chatted. I wasn’t embarrassed by my t-shirt. I’d forgotten all about it. A consequence of an older age?

How old is my neighbour? I always think we’re the same age, but we’re not. I just feel like I’m her age. I don’t look her age at all. You see, she must be 20 years younger than me.

I wonder if our neighbour looks at me and thinks, “Sue’s old.” Does she place me in the old people category?

The other day as we were driving through town, I saw a sign:

Anti-ageing treatment. Anti-wrinkle injections.

“Perhaps I should have some anti-ageing treatment,” I say.

My girls protest, “No, Mum! You don’t need that!”

Do they mean I don’t look as old as I imagine?

Maybe they think it’s too late for such treatments. They’d be a waste of money. 

Or do they like me just the way I am?

Why do I not like looking older? It’s nothing to do with getting old. I don’t mind that. I’m fit and healthy and life gets better and better as the years pass. But for some reason, I can’t quite come to terms with my ageing face.

The girls are telling me about someone they noticed at Mass. “She was sitting two pews in front of you, Mum.”

I need more information. “What did she look like?”

“She was old with grey hair.”

Old with grey hair? That could describe two-thirds of the women at Mass. We live in an ‘older parish’. I need more clues. But are there any? I have noticed most people are unobservant. If they’ve seen one old person, they’ve seen them all. Old people are just… old. What more is there to say?

Just imagine if age wasn’t the first thing we noticed. Instead of saying, “She was an old lady with grey hair,” we might say, “She was the lady who was holding her husband’s hand when they walked out of Mass.” Or, “She was the lady with the twinkly eyes, the one who distracted the unhappy baby in the pew in front of her.” Of course, she might be the lady who whispered to her neighbour all through Mass, but we’re not allowed to notice such things. That’s uncharitable. 

 I wonder why I don’t like the idea of becoming one of the old crowd. I too could shuffle into Mass, sit quietly, pray, and leave without anyone really noticing me. It might be nice to live a quiet, hidden life. I could be a humble old woman, observing from the sidelines. My time in the spotlight would be over. Yes, I should move gracefully on. Accept my ageing face.

Except I don’t want to. If I look old, people will label me ‘old’. Maybe that will affect the way they relate to me. They might think I’m not young enough to be their friend because I’m at a different stage of life from them. They might not want to know me. Oh, I know not all people think like this. But maybe some do. Not everyone is as kind as you.

So I have a problem with looking older. Just a small one. I try and push it away, not think about it, pretend wrinkles don’t matter. It helps if I avoid looking in mirrors. And I have to be careful about cameras. But as long as I do this, I’m happy.

A few days ago, I celebrated a birthday.

“Do you feel older?” asks Andy.

“No,” I reply. Because it’s true. Another year, another number. But numbers don’t matter. Perhaps wrinkles shouldn’t matter either.

Random thoughts. Some hard to admit. Not very clear. Does it matter? No, these are The Raw Files. Thoughts that may turn into something better. 

Perhaps I’ll turn into someone better: an old lady who doesn’t mind looking her age. I might mature nicely. Like a lump of cheese.


I talked about this post with my daughter Sophie when I interviewed her for episode 70 of my Stories of an Unschooling Family podcast: Trust, Respect and Love Unconditionally

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  1. Reply

    I loved when you wrote about your neighbor, "I just feel like I'm her age." I've been experiencing the same phenomena! I don't feel as "old" as I am, and tend to relate to anyone with children as "my peers"…especially other homeschoolers. Then, I realize I am more of a "mentor" to them, as the moms with grown AND no-so-grown-up-yet children were to me when I was just at the beginning of this journey. I enjoy your posts, Sue! Keep writing! – Sue Ann in AZ

    1. Reply

      Sue Ann,

      You understand! Yes, I guess we have indeed moved onto the mentor stage. In a way that's good. We can share and encourage younger mothers. That's a privilege. But I still can't quite come to terms with how my outside doesn't match up to my inside!

      I'm so glad you enjoyed my post. I will keep writing. Thank you for your encouraging words and for visiting my blog!

  2. Reply

    A lump of cheese no way!! I cannot see any wrinkles or grey hair! I have the grey weaving its way across the top and underneath the sides of my hair! Funny though we were having a family meal with Sara and Tom this evening and when I ordered an alcoholic ginger beer for her, the landlord asked me her age. When I replied 26 he looked aghast and stated that I couldn't possibly have a daughter that age. He almost fell over when I told him that our older daughters are nearly 30 :-). That revlon foundation is doing a reasonable job hiding the bags and dark shadows, lol.

    Belated birthday blessings too, I cannot believe I missed wishing you a happy birthday xx

    1. Reply


      Thank you for your birthday greetings!

      I definitely have wrinkles around my eyes. Lots of them! Many of them are due to the fact I have allergies which make my eyes sore. I rub them a lot! Grey hair? My hair is going white but so far isn't too noticeable.

      San, I love your alcoholic ginger beer story. Young looks must run in your family. Yes, when I see photos of you and Pip, it's hard to believe you have much older children too.

      I'm glad I don't look like a lump of cheese!!

  3. Reply

    You look so young, Sue. We haven't seen each other, for a while, but I saw your photos and I genuinely thought how you are looking like the younger sister, these days. You are ageing beautifully and I think your hair colour will make you stand out in the crowd, for a long time yet. The ageing process seems so complex and meaningful that your post led to lots of thinking for me. In the end, I decided that there must be a peak in life where everything physical and spiritual changes, and after that peak, we see life differently. I wonder if that is why the elderly people, who I see at church, often seem very at peace with themselves and their place in life.

    1. Reply


      I chose these photos very carefully. I admit it: I'm vain! I don't really think I look like the younger sister. You are right about my hair. I think a lot of people think I dye it but I don't. It's doing a lot better than my skin!

      Your thoughts are interesting. I do hope I gain the peace that you describe. Maybe it's like all change: It takes time to adjust.

      Thank you so much for stopping by. It's lovely to see you on my new blog!

    • Michelle
    • April 10, 2017

    “Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” ~Victor Hugo

    Yay, I’ll be 50 in July and according to that, I’m part of the young crowd again!

    PS. I wish you could see what everyone else does, I am sure. You radiate such beauty.

    1. Reply


      I am in the youth of my old age? Oh, I like that! God has blessed me with beautiful friends who encourage and support me as I age. Thank you so much for your kind words!

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