Last week, I received an email from a third year student called Rebecca McBride, She is working on a project that aims to demonstrate to the fashion and beauty industry that attitudes of beauty are NOT limited – or are only limited by them. Rebecca told me:

“ I wish to contradict the media’s narrow and unrealistic portrayals of beauty which equals young, skinny, airbrushed, overall very distorted levels of perfection. I am focusing on the older generation of women, creating a campaign which inspires everyone that beauty comes from within.

I came across your website which inspired me greatly and I would appreciate it if I could ask you a few questions to further the development of my project.”

Of course, I agreed and I found the process of answering Rebecca’s thoughtful questions so interesting that I asked her if I could publish the Q&A for the Truth In Aging community to read – and respond to! It would be great for Rebecca to get your take as well.

Rebecca: Why do you personally believe women turn to anti-aging products?

Marta: I think the boomer generation is the first that can look forward to a long life and good health. When my mother was 50, she was getting old. Now 50 means you can look forward to at least another 30 years. So looking good and staying healthy are major considerations for this generation.

Rebecca: Do you think anti-aging products work - or is it a state of mind ?

Marta: Until 10 years ago, big department store brands made impossible promises and women, seduced by the ads, bought products that were inevitably disappointing. Dermatologists told them nothing worked except sunscreen and a $2000 injection of Botox. Then 5-7 years ago, the industry - mostly led by small companies - began to find skincare actives that were effective.

Do they work? The vast majority of stuff on the market is useless. But there are some really good, well made products that can make a difference. They can repair damage to some extent and help with ongoing maintenance. You have to have realistic expectations though - they won't turn the clock back.

Rebecca: What are your views on how the media advertises anti-aging products, such as air-brushing, the use of younger models in campaigns ?

Marta: I get a ton of emails from readers saying how they are delighted to have found my website and how refreshing it is to get objective information. They are cynical and dissatisfied with the way they are marketed to. Big beauty brands just don't get it - they are still trying to sell an image that defines beauty as being under 35. The women who are part of Truth In Aging's community believe that beauty is possible at any age.

Rebecca: Do you have any statistics on the age of your customers who purchase products from your website? What is the most common age?

Marta: The last survey I did was 2 years ago and the median age was 42. I am guessing that it is now skewing closer to 50 and I am noticing more women in their 60s and 70s on the site. I think this is because there has been a recent shift in the online population to include more women of that age. Having said that, there are plenty of women (and men) in their 20s and 30s who are serious about skincare and visit the site.

Rebecca: How do you believe older women can become inspired by the way they look and how can the media or beauty brands make women embrace the way they look instead of turning to cosmetic surgery and anti-aging products?

Marta: I don't think it’s about growing older gracefully. In fact, I think we are going down fighting. Beauty is no longer defined as young, white and skinny. There is a growing acceptance of diversity that makes me very optimistic for the future. We can best inspire ourselves and others by taking responsibility as a generation of women and keep pushing our society to embrace us all.

Rebecca: What makes YOU happy and confident in how you look?

Marta: My husband (I'm lucky - he's still pretty enthusiastic), diet/exercise and a damn good eye cream

Rebecca: And finally, what is Beauty?

Marta: It is being at one with yourself.