I’m not sure how to say, without sounding a little self-regarding, that often people I meet in person are astonished to hear how old I am. The conversation may have started out with them telling me that their skin can’t look any better, because they’re 60, or because they’re 55, or because they’re 50. Maybe they give a bit of a shrug, and a soft smile, to say, well, that’s just the way it is.

And I want to shout my age from the rooftops! Age is no barrier to beauty.

Once upon a time, photo shoots were a regular feature in my life, but last week’s appointment with a photographer was the first in some years. And where once I was primped and preened, and sometimes made up like a pancake, here our goal was all about sheer, natural, authenticity.

No Photoshop, no foundation, no heavy eye makeup, no soft focus. Just me.

I’m 69 years old and have lived a life, not in a vacuum. I wanted the photos to show, and you to know, that you can look gorgeous at any age. Just by being your own simple, beautiful self. (And, of course, that cultivating really healthy radiant skin is a plus.)

My appointment was with Chris Jensen, a delightful, fun man who knows his craft and is a joy to work with. There were no makeup artists or hairdressers on the set for my visit, which was a first for him, as was “please leave my lines untouched.”

And nor is participating fully in life a barrier to beauty. I’m happy that it doesn’t seem to show too much in the photos, but the night before the shoot my daughter woke me up at two in the morning in terrible pain. We rushed to the emergency ward, and luckily, with treatment, she was fine.

By the time I got to the studio, after just a few hours of sleep, I was so concerned about how I was looking that I told Chris of my angst. He assured me I looked fine – he had never met me before – and I thought he was just being kind.

But in the end, thankfully, there are no tell tale signs of a 69 year old woman wearing no foundation who was sleep deprived! Beauty comes not from the superficial things about you, it comes from looking after yourself really well, and, much more profoundly, from who you are.

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