Catherine Urbanski Wants You To Be Your Own Beauty Icon
MEET THE PROFESSIONALS:
The founder and writer of fashion and beauty blog Atypical 60 talks aging, humor, and her ongoing love affair with France.
In January 2015 after a company closure thrust her into a job market where she found herself bumping up against ageism, Catherine Urbanski decided to do something she’d always wanted to do: write. She started the blog Atypical 60, a collection of stream of consciousness style musings chronicling her life as an empty nester. Told through a lens of humor and positivity, her stories about what she self-deprecatingly describes as “deeply shallow issues” have earned her a loyal following with an audience traditionally underserved by the fashion and beauty industry: mature women.
Catherine Urbanski wants you to be your own beauty icon.
“Look around. Fashion magazines basically ignore the mature demographic. The pages are filled with younger models, and every so often you will see a token older woman. The beauty industry has put us out to pasture like old heifers. There’s a huge demographic group that is strong, and we need to be noticed.”
You’ve been outspoken about the way the beauty industry treats mature women. Can you share some of your thoughts on the term “anti-aging” and why you’d like to see it go?
That term gets on my last nerve. There shouldn’t be a stigma placed on aging. It happens to all of us. But we can work with the aging process and find products that work best for us.
I think what Vivant did was great and I hope that they keep using terms like “Ageless” and “Pro-Age”—those terms are so positive whereas “anti-aging” is so negative.
The September issue of Allure magazine featured Dame Helen Mirren on the cover along with a pledge to stop using the word “anti-aging.” Do you think their stance will lead to change?
In that same issue, there was an ad for Botox, which featured a very young woman. I realize that advertisers pay hefty prices for ads, so it’s going to take some time.
I want to see what happens in future editions of Allure. I want to see if the magazine will use older women—and not just celebrities in their pages in future issues.
The ones to really make sure things change are my demographic group. We need to be revolutionaries. We need to make our voices heard. We need to be more visible.
Have you always been interested in fashion, beauty and skin care?
I’ve always been interested in fashion. Since I was a young girl, I was fascinated by it. With skin care—it’s a bit different. When you’re young, you don’t ever think about wrinkles and aging skin. My mother was constantly preaching to my sisters and me that we should use cream on our necks and faces every night. She was obsessive.
Honestly, my mother was such a sun worshiper that she should have looked like a leather purse. But she took such great care of her skin that she looked beautiful—even into her seventies when she passed away.
I should have done the same thing. But I didn’t. Baby oil and iodine was my summer go-to. And I didn’t really get into total skin care until I had been diagnosed with squamous cell on my face, of all places. After Mohs surgery, my skin care routine changed.
What skin care advice would you give to your twenty-year-old self?
Old me would sit twenty-year-old me down and say, “Hey, listen to your mother! Start applying cream every night—and to your neck too because one day you will have turkey neck.”
“And for crying out loud, stop bleaching the hair on your upper lip and get it waxed!”
I read that you spend every summer in France. How fabulous is that?
We do go every year, and I feel like it is a dream. I pinch myself after landing from every flight. The weather is always wonderful, the food is crazy good, and I’m in love with the people. Plus, Paris is the one city besides New York where I can walk fast—very good exercise.
Do the French approach to beauty differently than Americans?
They are more diligent about skin care. They grow up to respect the skin where I think we have a more “devil-may-care” attitude. We spend money on foundation and fake lashes and lip-plumping lipstick. European women look for great skin care, and they get facials on a regular basis. The former editor of French Vogue Carine Roitfeld never wears makeup. She has great skin.
Who are your style/beauty icons?
I believe that every woman out there should be her own style and beauty icon.
There are women whose style of dressing I find inspirational. For example, I love the way Ines de la Fressange dresses. She is just so effortless in her style. I’m a great admirer of hers. And there are iconic beauties—Catherine Deneuve, Viola Davis, Jeanne Moreau—but we have to be our own iconic beauty models.
My nose is too wide. My jawline is way too square. My freckles come out of hiding with the beginning of summer. I work to enhance what I have. That’s so important. Each woman is her own version of beautiful, and we should never forget that.
You say on your blog, “Humor is beauty.” Can you elaborate on that? What is beauty to you?
A sense of humor is so important. We can take our work and our family seriously, but we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. We need to laugh at ourselves. We need to laugh at our mistakes. We need to find humor in little things. A smile is the greatest beauty item you can have. It’s free, and it makes you look youthful.