Waging War on the term “Anti-Aging”
Recently, I received a gift of skincare items to try, geared for women my age. They were right up my alley, addressing many of my concerns. I plan to do a series of reviews on the products, but in the interim, I contemplate what I’d call the articles, because I hate labels like “anti-aging” “turning back the hands of time” and “fountain of youth” which are normally associated with skin care for mature women.
While I look forward to using the products, and sharing my thoughts, I am looking for imagery more in keeping with my experience of middle age: celebrating the gifts that age brings rather than essentially waging war against our very biology and natural changes in our bodies as maturing women.
“Aging isnt an illness, it’s a natural process.”
If you asked people in their fifties and beyond do they want to be younger, most say “no thanks”. I am happy being 58, which is why I bristle at the whole notion of fighting a natural process through which all living beings pass. Aging isn’t an illness, it’s a process. A process which brings richness and gifts. Gifts one wouldn’t notice or appreciate if embroiled in a fictitious battle with aging.
I don’t want to look “younger;” I want to look healthy, radiant, and vibrant which is how I feel inside. I recognize that there are some who don’t appreciate the look of a middle aged woman. That’s their prerogative—even if it is a bit unhealthy, in my opinion. I want to spend my time with people who are comfortable with themselves and the natural course of life anyway.
This is not to say I am against taking care of one’s self or our natural desire to be beautiful and sexy. Nor am I against a few tweaks here and there from the doctor if it makes you feel better. I love good skincare and wear makeup almost every day. I am an ardent believer in taking care of our bodies by eating properly and exercising. I look for products that help maintain the health of my skin and hair. Rather than waging an “anti-aging” campaign, I prefer to nurture myself with love, not war.
…And yes, there are physical challenges as we age, having been very athletic most of my life—there is no question I was stronger and more flexible even a few years ago, in spite of the fact that I lift weights, ice skate and do yoga daily. After skating for two hours I am beat and in need of a nap, but rather than hanging my skates up because I am “old” and might get hurt, I have found deep enjoyment in challenging myself and working hard to improve my skills and endurance.
When it comes to my inner being, I have more clarity, am healthier, wiser or more in tuned to the world around me–and its not just me–I see it in other women my age too. If others choose not to take advantage of the experience, insights and intuition of mature women because they think we’re too old or irrelevant, that’s their loss.
Up until recently, most marketing to my age group centered around “anti-aging” memes. However, in recent months things have changed a tick or two. It seems throwing a few token older women into the media mix has become a “thing”. Featuring a former model on a magazine cover, and sprinkling two or three older models on the runway, or in print adds, and venerating older actresses is now “cool” and “edgy”. “They’ve defied the aging process!” “The epitome of anti-aging!” “So inspiring!” Some exclaim. Frankly, it feels a little patronizing to me. It’s as if a woman’s being beautiful, or accomplished in middle age is a freak of nature.
And, we keep seeing the same small handful of models and actresses held up as role models as if they are the only ones who managed to keep their look current. Look around, people! There are stunning, fashionable, accomplished middle aged women everywhere–and they are wealthy, healthy, love good things and are in search of adventure. The huge 50+ female demographic has been written off, is not even remotely understood and is being patronized and/or completely ignored.
“The irony of Helen Miren showing up on the cover of Allure after you cancelled your subscription, is just too funny” -Roger, my partner and photographer, this morning over coffee.
When I saw that Allure Magazine decided to ban “anti-aging” slogans in their magazine, with a photo of Helen Miren on the cover, I had to laugh. I just cancelled my subscription—over the past year I found little interest in articles about young celebrities and gossip—the magazine is no longer geared to makeup in general, but to the twenty something set who are getting Botox and facelifts as a preemptive strikes against aging. During the past year, I can’t recall a single article that related to an age group over thirty, and that goes for most all magazines on the stands these days.
Maybe mainstream media are right to focus their efforts on the young. Truth be told, I am not looking for the media to define me anymore anyway. I have found a group of real women sharing life experiences, fashion and beauty who are more inspiring and relatable than anyone I’ve been seeing in mainstream media. While it has taken a bit of effort to find them, I am grateful for their authenticity, wisdom, insight and inspiring style.
My friends and I refuse to fight what is and can only be a losing battle against our very biology—which the term anti-aging seems to be encouraging, rather, we are celebrating lives well lived, letting go of things that no longer serve us, and beginning new chapters in life complete with adventure, mystery and even romance. (And we want to look great doing it!) If I were to wage any battle at all, it would be against the term “anti-aging” but frankly, I’m just too busy.
Special Note: I’ve gotten a few questions about where to get my top–here are a few that are similar: