‘Anti-ageing’ … Oh how I hate that term …
When we see the words ‘anti-ageing’ presented to us with great gusto in advertising, on product labels, in magazines, in the media, and online, what exactly does it mean?
The definition of ‘anti’ is to be against, opposed or resistant to something. So, why are we being brainwashed to resist ageing which is a totally natural process of growth and self-evolution? Why are we being sold the myth that in order to be a complete, happy and fulfilled human being of value and beauty, we have to look young? Why do we live in a youth-oriented society?
The signs of ageing - wrinkles, jowls, laughter lines, baggy eyes - come to us all as time goes on. We age differently depending on our genes, sun or cold weather exposure, lack of sleep, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, substance abuse, stress and illness – and, yes, from smiling. But, we all age – fact. It is the normal process of living.
We receive the anti-ageing message in all sorts of facial beauty products: day creams, night creams, under-eye creams, eyelid creams, neck restoring formulas, neck and jowl creams and lip plumpers. Every area of the face has a cream! There are many cosmetic treatments available too to eliminate and prevent the signs of ageing: face lift, neck lift, brow lift, eye bag removal, fillers, Botox injections, micro dermabrasion, laser treatment, chemical peel and lip plumping injections. The beauty and cosmetic-procedures industries are booming and making mega-bucks from people falling for their promises that life will be wonderful if they were to look years younger. They have been very successful in getting their anti-ageing message out with clever marketing and it is very worrying to see that some younger people are having preventative ‘work’ done.
Increasingly, magazines and websites are displaying overly-edited images of faces with every flaw, line and pore erased from them. A certain amount of editing is required to get the best and most flattering image and that is understandable. The subliminal anti-ageing message is conveyed through the use of the ‘perfect, flawless, non-wrinkled’ face and this type of influence on consumers contributes to the mind-set that ageing is not the way to go. Alongside that, with the advancement of technology, the use of mobile phones and the interaction on social media, the sharing of personal images has become second nature to us all. Everyone wants to look good and we are all now our own personal editors of our photographs. Are we becoming obsessed by wanting to look younger and erasing our lines? Have we all bought in to the anti-ageing message no matter what age we are?
Our ageing faces tell a story – our story. They display communication and emotions of joy, sadness, anger, laughter, worry and fear. When we fill the lines and wrinkles and tighten up the sagging skin, whether that is physically or electronically, we take away that facial communication. Faces become puffed, frozen, expressionless and, in extreme cases, alien-like. Our true emotions are hidden and trapped under a mask of rigidness. That special factor unique to each one of us, known as character, disappears.
Whilst it is always personal choice about how we adapt to and share our ageing faces (and we have the right to do what makes us feel happy and confident), I think we need to re-evaluate what it is to grow older and place value on it. My personal wish is that the beauty industry would market products using a ‘positive-ageing’ message, highlighting the natural and ageing beauty that is in our faces. As we get older we still care about how we look and we want to showcase that with the products we buy. I would like to see images used in advertising, magazines and online become more real so that consumers can relate and connect to them and know that it is alright to have wrinkles, jowls, pores, freckles and laughter lines. What we really need is a revolution where we celebrate and embrace every age of our lives. We need a change of mind-sets to celebrate the joy of getting older, showing that our inner beauty, our experience of living and our wisdom shines through our faces. The characteristics we have developed reveal that we have lived and that life is good to the very end.
And, don’t waste time fighting time. Eternal youth does not, and should not, exist.