Since its earliest days in Australia, I’ve been monitoring Who Magazine’s annual feature on the “Most Beautiful People”.

Once a year, it presents a mix of international and local celebrities of various sorts, both genders, and a cross-section of ages.

The reason for my monitoring stems – of course – from my interest in how ageing is presented in the media. And amongst these beauties, over the years, it’s been no surprise to find that they are – mostly – young, or middle-aged. And that, tokenistically, there is usually the inclusion of an older male and female.

Overall, too, the males are allowed to show signs of ageing but the females not so much.

And the 2013 edition is an excellent case in point with regards to their token oldsters. In it is a stunning black and white photo of a totally smooth-faced, 67-year-old Helen Mirren, whose hair colour, therefore, could be any shade of blonde rather than the white it already was then. This is the same Helen Mirren who considerably earlier – in 2006 – so realistically played the Queen at age 71, lined face and all.

And this is the same Helen Mirren who, in 2011, at the age of 66, told a Weekend Australian Magazine reporter that the roles that she has taken on “fulfill her long-stated ambition ‘to be able to age on screen.’”

And this was very much the case in The Door, the movie she was promoting at that time. In it she played an aged servant, and “wore no make-up at all.

She laughs at the thought. ‘It is actually incredibly rare on film to have nothing on your face at all,’ she says.

‘Even when you are playing a character who wears no make-up, you wear make-up otherwise your eyes tend to disappear and look like two piss-holes in the snow.

But on this occasion I really did wear no make-up. It was great because I could just prance in five minutes before I was due on. And also, once you let go of that, it’s gone. You just look the way you look.’”

It is, then, perhaps not surprising that, in a 2010 article about her in this role, the British Daily Mail described her acting her age as “brave”. And it was also not surprising that this got the following response from a Norwegian reader: “You have to be brave to look like 65????? My mother’s 75 and she walks out in public every day – what a heroine eh??”

Meanwhile, her male counterpart in that same edition of Who, George Clooney, who was 51 at the time, was presented (also monochromatically) as a “silver fox”, with deep laugh lines, furrowed brow, and clearly white streaks in his otherwise dark hair.

Interestingly, too, on the subject of make-up, he was reported in Mindfood, in 2011 to have taken the no-make-up issue several steps further. According to Michele Manelis, “an unusual and little known fact [about him is that] he refuses to wear make-up on screen. His female co-stars, all of whom sit in a make-up chair for several hours in the hopes of looking ‘natural’, are understandably in awe, if not a little miffed by his nude visage.”

So, now, arriving at 2018, it behooves me to give credit where it’s due. And it’s very much due, due to a dramatic change of face that is – moreover – front and centre as the main cover image for this year’s “Most Beautiful People 2018”.

There – proudly announced just in case we don’t get the message – is 53-year-old Rebecca Gibney, with “No makeup! Why I’m proud of my wrinkles”. And sure enough, there she is, looking completely natural, with laugh lines, and gently wrinkled around her eyes.

And perhaps best of all, she’s not hyper-gorgeous at an unreally Angelina Joli level, but just an attainably pleasant-featured woman cheerfully looking her age.

And this theme is carried through in the four-page article about her, where the main photos echo that on the cover, and with one minor photo having her mildly made up, alongside her thoughts on aspects of growing older realistically, positively, and happily. And, granted that the rest of the 2018 beautiful people pretty much follow the standard pattern outlined at the beginning.

But the main message is absolutely to be congratulated. And – a bit of deserved promotion here – it’s not too late to see this for yourself, as it’s the April 9 edition.

Anne Ring 2018©

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