I was watching the dystopian 1970s sci-fi romp Logan’s Run the other night, marvelling at its futuristic kitsch. Lean-limbed lovelies cavort in neon mini-togas throughout their Barbican Centre-esque underground lair, enjoying such Year 2274 amenities as office hot tubs and slow-motion sex clubs. It almost goes without saying that the film’s star, the Age of Aquarius’s go-to nubile Jenny Agutter, is resplendent in full side boob and under buttock-revealing effect. But as the plot progressed, my indulgent chuckles sputtered as the movie’s spooky prescience revealed itself. A sinister hunter robot that freezes humans for later snacking throws ahead to our inevitable AI overlords. The New You Shop, a walk-in plastic surgery clinic offering lunchtime face’n’body carve-ups, is only a teensy tweak away from today’s mall aestheticians.
And once the central premise of Logan’s Run is revealed, this potboiler seemingly mutates into a ripped-from-the-headlines documentary. Turns out these hedonistic remnants of humanity willingly surrender to ‘renewal’ (spoiler alert: extermination) at the ripe oldage of 30, thanks to a ritualistic ride on a jumbo bugzapper called ‘Carousel’. It transpires that our fictional 2274 counterparts are just as wary of ageing as we are, and despite justified reservations about Carousel’s hollow promises of ‘renewal’, they would rather voluntarily submit to spontaneous combustion in front of a sold-out arena than be seen in public with wrinkles and grey hair.
This is a proposition with which I myself have wrestled as I glide from plump-cheeked maidenhood to seasoned ripeness, with ‘ripeness’ increasingly frantically maintained by spackle, spray paint, injections and interventions. I’m dancing as fast as I can to fool my face in the mirror, but why? I fully acknowledge that I’m attached to a certain version of my ‘skin suit’, one that hovers in an eternal forty-something iteration of Katie Puckrik-ness. But how freeing would it be to broaden my idea of what is beautiful, what is desirable, what is aspirational?
Fortunately, the breadcrumbs to enlightenment are increasingly abundant. Beauty gurus from Bobbi Brown to Rose-Marie Swift shine an unforgiving ring light on to their own wrinkled yet dewy skin across the wilds of social media, coaxing me into a brave new world where loveliness means health and vibrancy, not plastic perfection. Ravishing elders such as Diane Keaton, Bill Nighy, Grace Jones, Yoko Ono and Iggy Pop are walking masterclasses on how authenticity, intelligence and purpose burnish the superficial gifts of pretty youth, rendering the evanescent into unfading allure. And most inspiring of all, Gen Z is giving us golden girls and guys permission to glow, with their lusty celebration o non-conforming beauty across age, shape and gender. As Logan’s Run’s Agutter wonderingly says to a begrizzled Peter Ustinov, the very first old man she has ever met in her entire life: ‘Those cracks on your face — do they hurt? Can I touch them?’ No they don’t, young lady. And yes, yes you can.