Virginia Ironside: Yes, I've had a facelift. And so should you

I didn't want to look in the mirror and see a gloomy old person

Share
Related Topics

It appears that I was a bit of a pioneer of cosmetic surgery, at least in the circles I move in. I had my last bit of surgery around six years ago when I was 56 - a facelift - and two years before that I had an eyelid job. So it's no surprise to me that the increase in cosmetic surgery among people in their sixties rose last year by 8 per cent.

But why is it only now that more and more mature men and women are going under the knife? Partly it's because those of us who are now in our sixties are of a different mind-set from the oldies who went before us. We were young in the Sixties. We weren't born to be old. Not for us the silvery bun of hair, the idea that sex is over for ever.

Not only were we born to try to remain cool and stylish to the very end, we were also born to accept change very easily. We'd lived through the discovery of the Pill, the arrival of television, the introduction of the internet, mobile phones ... So why not have a go at cosmetic surgery?

Top of the list of procedures for the over-sixties is eyelid surgery. And when you can hardly see for the overhanging cliffs of flesh above, it's understandable.

Next is a tummy tuck. Even if you only eat a carrot a day and do press-ups till you faint, tummy muscles, according to my cosmetic surgeon, can never quite regain their youthful vigour after a certain point in life.

Nose-reshaping is number three, followed by breast reduction. An old showbiz friend had her breasts reduced because, she says, "suddenly my vast breasts, which I could just cope with when I was young, became agonisingly heavy, making it really painful to walk around". When she showed me a pre-op picture of herself in the bath, I could well understand why she begged for the knife.

The other reason people are opting to have cosmetic surgery is that they're starting to trust it. When I'd first mooted having surgery, all my friends gave dire warnings. "You'll look like Joan Rivers!" But cosmetic surgery is incredibly subtle these days. Even when I tell people I've had it done, many simply can't believe it - though they do realise I must have had something done because I look so much younger than my years.

Yet I didn't have it done to look young. And although there have been reports that older women are having more cosmetic surgery because they fear competition at work from younger colleagues, I believe it's an excuse. I don't think women have it done to attract a man, either.

In my case, the reason for having cosmetic surgery was two-fold. It was partly simply to look better. But mainly I had it done because I wanted to look happier. Most of my older friends look fantastically miserable. Yet as you get older, in my experience, you feel happier, and so it's particularly galling to be condemned to live with the lines of another era, an era of pain and misery, uncertainly and lack of self-confidence.

Without angry and miserable lines on your face, people respond to you in a more positive way, which makes you react more positively, and before you know where you are, you're in a loop of perpetual sunshine.

I didn't want to look in the mirror and see a gloomy old person with horrible little pouches developing round her mouth and a lizardy neck known as a "wattle" as in a turkey. I now look into mirrors and see a happier woman. And knowing it's me, makes me even happier, and makes the people around me feel less threatened, too.

As an agony aunt who tries to spot the inner goodness of people and not judge them by appearances, I felt guilty. But there's another part of me that believes that looking as good as you can is actually a moral virtue.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sales and Maketing Manager, St Albans, Hertfordshire

£55 - £70K OTE £130k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major multi-million pound la...

Drupal Developer

£40000 - £52000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Drupal developer v...

Operations and Maintenance Engineer - Solar

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum plus benefits/bonus package: The Green Recruitment C...

Sales and Maketing Director (Designate) , Watford, Hertfordshire

£60- £70K OTE £120k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major multi-million pound lan...

Day In a Page

Read Next
lowers, candles and other tributes in front of the Netherlands Embassy in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17  

To punish Putin for the MH17 disaster we must boycott Russia 2018

Jack Gilbert
 

The daily catch-up: Joe on Vlad, banks of the Jordan and Blair's radicalism

John Rentoul
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor