Aging in the Beauty IndustrySonya Benham
“I don’t want to clean my room, you… you… old woman!” screams my five-year-old son, Julian, at the top of his lungs. “Old woman?” Where would he get an idea like that? Why would he call me “old” and use it as an insult, to boot?
Oh yeah, he got it from me. Oops.
What can I say? I have a self-deprecating sense of humor and a bad habit of referring to myself as “old.” I routinely give this as a reason why he can’t jump on me (he’s 50 lbs!) or why I sometimes have a hard time keeping up with him.
I do this at work as well. As a hairstylist and colorist in a young, hip salon, I’m self-conscious about my age. My clients and I talk about everything and getting older is a topic that comes up a lot. As someone who is compulsively honest, I often blurt out my age.
I turned 40 in June and I won’t lie, it was a rough birthday for me to accept. Time just keeps marching forward faster than ever. I see the changes in my face and I know they aren’t going to improve as I make my way through another decade. When I do tutorials on my blog, I have to take several pictures from different angles to produce a shot I can stomach sending out into the World Wide Web. A couple times, I’ve even resorted to using Photoshop to remove an eye bag or two.
Even still, I don’t feel my age, I’m told I don’t look my age, and sometimes I just wish I would stop talking about it. When I discussed this with my coworker, James, he asked why I would care. The answer is that deep down, I wonder if it keeps me from being credible in an industry obsessed with youth.
But it’s silly and I know that. Most of the sought-after looks come from celebrities my age or older. Jennifer Anniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, and JLo come to mind. And age brings me the experience to have confidence as a seasoned professional.
I made a conscious decision to stop using Photoshop on my blog. It feels like a lie. I also don’t refer to myself as old in front of my son. I’m a grown woman and I’m not ashamed of that. If anything, I hope that people will see my blog and be reminded that you can be 40 and still have fun with your hair, make up, and nails. You can be a mother and take a little time for yourself.
Interestingly enough, 39 was the hard part. I didn’t want to turn 40 but it happened anyway. Nothing left to do but own it.