Joan Collins, aged 80, joked this week that the most important things in her marriage are sex, sex, sex. Watching her looking utterly stunning on the ITV programme “Loose Women”, Beverley remarked over her cup of tomato soup, “Yes but it’s all false.”
Beverley is deeply into ageing naturally. She believes neither in makeup, Botox, surgery nor facial gym. “You can’t fight nature,” she says. “To try to do so is vanity”.
Vanity. Definition : the belief in one’s abilities or attractiveness to others.
Belief. Definition : trust, faith, confidence; an acceptance that something is true.
Biologically things begin to change at thirty. People generally start to panic around fifty. What happens when we age naturally, when we do nothing to stop the decline of our bodies and minds? When does the body really start going downhill?
The amount of body fat goes up steadily after thirty and may eventually rise by as much as 30%. Fat tissue builds up toward the centre of the body, including around the internal organs. Solution? Calorie restriction (see post on calorie restriction).
The tendency to become shorter occurs among all races and in both sexes. Height loss is related to changes in the bones, muscles, and joints. People typically lose about 1 cm (0.4 inches) every 10 years. Solution? Exercise. There are plenty of sites with exercises to avoiding losing height. Nothing unnatural about exercise.
Body odour changes with age. However, old people’s odour is not generally perceived as unpleasant. Middle-aged men don’t smell particularly good, but this will improve with age. Best smellers of all are middle-aged women.
Your teeth collapse. Dental decay is caused by insufficient flossing and brushing and processed food. If the teeth are beyond repair, dental implants are one of the best investments you can make. Without them your face may cave in but it is not just vanity. Proper chewing will help to avoid stomach ailments.
Your skin becomes wrinkly and you get age spots. If you observe the skin on the backside of an old person, chances are it’s as smooth as the day they were born. Skins ages due to environmental damage, the sun and stress.
Your hair turns grey. (See Going Grey).
Your muscles waste away. Muscles waste through lack of use. Even face muscles can be retrained to “lift” up again through facial gym exercises.
You become forgetful. Everyone is sometimes forgetful, and dementia and Alzheimer’s are preventable – there are lots of sites about how to avoid it.
In fact there is little about ageing that is not to some extent reversible. The taboo against vanity, the social cue encouraging us to accept our fate, deters us from pursuing the goal of ageless vitality. Man as a victim of the forces of nature is born, reproduces, then dies, exactly like the animals, goes the saying. There are two possible arguments against this – a spiritual one and a humanist one.
The humanist argument against ageing refutes the idea that what is to be found in nature is good and therefore lions are mercy-killers of the weak and their prey feel no pain, some animals kill their young or their mates and this is part of a plan and so on, helping the crippled and sick gets in the way of evolution. It inspires Social Darwinism, the belief that helping the poor and sick would get in the way of evolution. Most people would agree the natural world cannot be used as a reference for human behaviour.
The spiritual argument can be summarised as follows: all spiritual traditions suggest man’s true goal here on earth is to overcome his animal nature and triumph as a divine spirit. Letting your spirit guide your attitude to life as the years pass can have a huge effect on body and soul. And of course the alchemists’ ultimate goal was to discover, through spiritual pursuits and using the intelligence God had given them, the fountain of eternal youth.
Given the overwhelming cultural inclination to believe that the infirmity of old age is something inevitable, there will always be Beverleys, looking at the vibrant, youthful, gorgeous Joan Collins and saying, it ain’t for real. But there she is, aged 80 and in no way an old lady.
Asked about the age difference in her marriage – to a husband 32 years younger – she quipped, “If he dies, he dies”.