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I have a pile of magazines with articles in them which I keep meaning to post on.

Consider this ‘from the magazine pile’.

In the August 2012 issue of The Oldie — an informative English magazine anyone over 40 will appreciate — regular columnist Virginia Ironside‘s Granny Annexe article was called ‘Looking good: the older you get, the harder you should try’ (p. 23).

In it, Ironside (b. 1945) criticises the wise woman look, the overly long hair which Hillary Clinton and Cambridge classicist Mary Beard sport. Both women are younger than Ironside. Clinton was born in 1947 and, surprisingly, Beard in 1955.

Ironside advises people to look their best as they age. To subject others to your own ‘repulsive’ personal appearance is ‘rude’.

She uses the expression still popular when I was growing up: ‘letting yourself go’. As my mother was fond of pointing out in the early 1970s, this became ‘letting it all hang out’.  And how.

Ironside takes issue with friends of hers who said that it doesn’t matter what we look like when we age. She posits that, the older they get, the more men and women should be conscious of how they present themselves in public.

Ironside says that Moses should have laid down an Eleventh Commandment: ‘Thou shalt do thy best to make the most of thyself, looks-wise, however difficult this may be in the circumstances’.

Our hair, weight, hygiene and clothes speak volumes about us. Ironside is right to say that a careful appearance is a courtesy to others — ‘good manners’, in her words.

I’ve read several times that Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea encouraged the wise woman hair. However, it is not a look which does her credit.

It is possible that Dr Beard thinks that her long grey hair is a becoming trademark. Personally, I find it difficult to look at a photo of her. As such, I certainly couldn’t bear to watch her television documentaries.

For those who are unaware, the name ‘wise woman’ is another appellation for ‘the witch’.

Where I live, I can think of very few older couples who look the way people their age looked when I was young. They are slim, clean and neatly dressed. They adopt a classic style with regard to clothes and hair. They are pleasant to look at and inoffensive to the eye. This was always the case until a few decades ago when those who adopted the slovenly look of the late 1960s aged along with it.

In addition to weight and hair, there is also the matter of personal hygiene. I still remember going to the theatre a few years ago and standing near an older woman whose feet positively stank. The memory of the odour took at least a year to fade.

Finally, there are the aesthetics: excess body hair, skin tags, cysts and moles. In the UK, a good aesthetician can remove these painlessly.

A magical little machine called Applisonix — Israeli technology owned by Americans — gets rid of unwanted hair inside the nostrils, on moles or around the ears.

Applisonix uses ultrasound to remove the hair. This video illustrates its principal use — removal of facial hair on the upper lip:

A good aesthetician should charge £35 or £40 for Applisonix nose and ear hair removal. (They might recommend different techniques for the upper lip, depending on the type of hair.) As the woman in the film says, treatment is necessary only once a month. That is because we produce new hair in the same place. In time, this disappears completely, as the video reveals.

Aestheticians in the UK can now also remove moles for a modest price. One professional I know says this is because the NHS ‘can’t be bothered’ anymore. An aesthetician must earn the proper qualifications for this procedure — this includes clinical training.

These developments are a blessing for Britons young and old. I understand that the UK has some of the most liberal laws surrounding aesthetic treatments, much more so than the United States or France.

We no longer have an excuse for looking dire as we grow older. Let’s take advantage of it. Those who do will find that they develop a good rapport with their aesthetician. They may even get a special price for a grouping of several standard treatments instead of paying à la carte.

Look for someone who is English or speaks the language fluently. They should be friendly, clean, caring, conscientious — and good listeners. There are not many who offer the full gamut of the most advanced techniques, but every region of the country will have at least one or two. A bit of research on the Web will prove fruitful in this regard.

As Virginia Ironside says, looking our best really does exemplify good manners. It is a kindness not only to ourselves but also to others.


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