Beauty with attitude: changing the conversation about ageing

We meet eight women who know that feeling great and looking beautiful is all about attitude, not age

From left, Jacquie Hutchinson (67), Prishela Row (49), Cathy Soraghan (54), Caroline Townsend (45),  Margret McCarthy (76), Maria Bonals (41),  Wendy McCormack Stunt (38), and Wendy Vaughan (51).

From left, Jacquie Hutchinson (67), Prishela Row (49), Cathy Soraghan (54), Caroline Townsend (45), Margret McCarthy (76), Maria Bonals (41), Wendy McCormack Stunt (38), and Wendy Vaughan (51).


Jacquie Hutchinson, 67

“Not only should we be changing the conversation about ageing regarding beauty, we need to discuss the outdated notion of mandatory retirement at 65. Old age is getting younger all the time,” says Jacquie. “I view ageing as a very positive thing, I probably looked pretty hot in my youth but never realised it. With age, I can now appreciate that I look well. I’ve also gained a lot of self-assurance and confidence, and I don’t worry anymore. Now I’m not working, I’ve more time to spend looking after myself, and that means getting my nails done and going to the gym regularly, playing a game of squash or getting out on the golf course. My game plan for the next few decades is to stay fit and healthy, keep my mind active, and to grow old disgracefully.”

Cathy Soraghan, 54 

“I’ve never felt more empowered or beautiful than I do now,” says Cathy who runs personal training and food coaching business, Women on the Run. Having trained countless women over the years, Cathy believes Irish women don’t do enough things just for themselves. “We, myself included, get so caught up in running everyone else’s lives – kids, partners, families and work – we perpetually put our needs last, and that drags your spirit and self-esteem down. Since turning 50, I’ve set myself the challenge to do two or three new things a year, just for me. Last year I walked the Camino and took up painting; it was so liberating to be on my own and do my own thing.” Cathy says she doesn’t feel dressed up unless her hair is well groomed: “It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, if the hair’s not good, it takes away from it all. I’ll either book a blow-dry or put in my Velcro rollers, and once my hair is good, I can take on the world.”

Caroline Townsend, 45

Caroline’s approach to ageing is to do more of the things she loves and to say yes to as many opportunities as possible when they come knocking. “You never know what they may ignite within, like doing this photoshoot, for instance, in the past I would have said no immediately, but look at all the fun I would have missed out on,” says Caroline. A keen tennis player and busy mum, Caroline firmly believes, “Staying fit shows in your attitude and energy levels. I try to get as much sleep as possible. I think we need to celebrate getting older, like in Eastern societies, who view maturing as a positive. You can’t stop age so you may as well enjoy it; every birthday is a gift.”

Margret McCarthy, 76

A retired Irish business woman, Margret began working in the beauty industry with Elizabeth Arden herself, in Arden’s iconic salon on 5th Avenue, New York in 1960. “I’ve encountered thousands of women through work, motherhood and everyday life over the years. And the most beautiful of which were rarely the youngest or even the prettiest, but rather the ones who were really enjoying life and feeling good in their skin. Beauty to me is accepting what you’ve got and making the best of what you were born with. Work with what you have, not against it as Mother Nature knows what works. Saying that it took me until 70 to fully embrace my grey hair, but now I love it. If grey hair is cut right and well styled it looks as good as any colour. Christine Lagarde is my current hair inspiration. When I need to look smart, it’s jewellery that makes me feel glam and feminine. A few strings of pearls and my earrings and I’m ready for any occasion.”

Maria Bonals, 41

Barcelona native, Maria moved to Ireland in 2001 to marry a Cork man and says the Spanish attitude towards getting older is to be grateful of old age, not resentful of it. “It’s part of our journey in this life. If you are old, it means you are the fortunate ones, who’ve had a chance to live a long journey on this earth,” says Maria. “I feel sexier and more confident now than ever before possibly because, by day, I’m a technical engineer but, after 5.30pm, “I do all the things I love like contemporary dancing, painting, drawing, meeting up with my friends or having a good conversation with my husband. In my 40s, I see life generally with a lot more positive attitude than before, and I try to be surrounded by the people I love the most, people who makes me happy and cheerful. That’s the key to ageing happily and healthily in my opinion.”

Wendy Vaughan, 51

“Every age and decade brings a different quality to your appearance, and 50s is a great age to be. Right now, I’m embracing it with gusto,” says Wendy, a mum-of-three who hung up her working shoes last year. “I love that I had my kids young – at 25 – and now I can enjoy hanging out with them; they keep me feeling vital and up to date on the latest fashions and fads. However, I try not to pay much attention to trends, I’ve found my style, regarding fashion and haircut and make-up, so I stick to what works. I’ve also learned that what you put inside is mirrored on the outside so I try to eat healthy and love cooking, and my weekly yoga class is my happy place.”


Wendy McCormack Stunt, 38

Founder of Go DigiCard and mum of three, Wendy admits she’s not daunted by getting older as, “I see so many beautiful, amazing women in Ireland today, doing amazing things at all ages, I feel like ageing is not going to be a drawback. In fact, it seems 60 is the new 50, and 50 is the new 40 and so on. Age is just two arbitrary numbers. At 38, I’m wiser, happier and more carefree than in my 20s and I don’t get worked up about silly things anymore.” Wendy relies on two secret weapons for feeling beautiful, the first is her smile, “everyone always says I have a great smile and even if you’re feeling rubbish, it’s scientifically proven that smiling can turn your mood around – and those you smile at too. The second is high heels. There is just something about a woman in heels, isn’t there? It’s much harder to take on the world in flats.”

Prishela Row, 49

“I often hear women sizing themselves up against others, and it is such a draining pursuit. One loses their peace and joy over such vanity. There is such an amazing ‘rest’ when you don’t compare yourself with anyone. When you love yourself, you look most beautiful,” says healing massage therapist, Prishela. “There is such beauty in ageing; it’s wrong to see it as a negative. Every stage of life must be accepted joyfully, with gratitude, wrinkles and all. I think women need to encourage each other more, to step out of their comfort zone and have each other’s backs. I feel most beautiful when I’m helping others and see them thrive.”

Rewriting the ageing rules

Growing older is not what it used to be, so it’s time to rewrite the rules of ageing. Today Irish women are healthier, more active, educated and vital than ever before, regardless of the number on their birthday cards. In fact, many women will tell you they feel more beautiful as they get older and embrace the wisdom and empowerment that comes with maturity. The Beauty Doesn't Have a Number campaign, in association with Dove, is a series of four features that starts with an introduction to our eight Irish women who’ve learned that feeling great and looking beautiful is all about attitude


Photography: Johnny McMillan

Styling: Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lennon, assisted by Caoilfhionn Walsh from Dunnes Stores.
Makeup: Leonard Daly and Noamh Geday
Hair: Jacqui Faye and Marc Ballance from Kazumi, Dublin 2.
Shot on location at Iconic offices, Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
Interviews and shoot coordination:
Liz Dwyer

Jacquie Hutchinson
Gallery batwing top, €20
Joanne Hynes at Dunnes Stores knitted skirt, €90
Sparkle silver heel shoe, Dunnes Stores, €15

 Prishela Row
Savida yellow lace mac, €50
Savida yellow Peter Pan blouse, €20
Gallery white crop trousers, €20
Silver sandals, Dunnes Stores, €25

Cathy Soraghan
The Edit Grey silk jersey dress, €69
Jewel satin heel shoe, Dunnes Stores, €30

Caroline Townsend
Lennon Courtney at Dunnes Stores turquoise contrast dress, €99
Ankle strap sandals, Dunnes Stores, €20

Margret McCarthy
Paul Costelloe Living Studio pink coat, €80
Gallery creptop, €20
Gallery side zip crop trousers, €25
Ankle strap sandals, Dunnes Stores, €20

Maria Bonals
Lennon Courtney at Dunnes Stores blue jacquard top, €79
Lennon Courtney at Dunnes Stores white belle skirt, €89
Savida silver flower sandals, €35

Wendy McCormack Stunt
Lennon Courtney at Dunnes Stores petrol batwing dress, €99
Ankle strap sandals, Dunnes Stores, ¤20

Wendy Vaughan
Savida yellow layered top, €30
Gallery ivory side zip crop trousers, €25
Ankle strap sandals, Dunnes Stores, €20