Aging and the media’s obsession with youth



When I blog about body image, I always rail against the media’s obsession with youth and thinness.

women's vintage ads

Yet, even though I know better, I don’t escape getting hooked with its message.

Bottom line: I’m struggling with getting older.

I haven’t yet tamed the voice of the inner-shrew-on-aging. I hear her in the cold, stark reality of morning light when I put on eyeliner and use my index finger to pull my skin away from the side of my eye for ease of application, and release my finger only to have the skin decide to stay out there for a bit of a rest.

Then slowly, almost begrudgingly, my beloved piece of skin, that’s been with me all my life, decides to make its way back to the place where it started. The shrew-on-aging lets me know that, like a dried up rubber band, my skin’s just not holding things together the way it used to.

For the first time in my life I’ve reached an age which I have trouble saying out loud. My brain (vs. the resident shrew-on-aging who’s bribed and owned by the media) KNOWS that I am succumbing to a society induced dis-ease. .

So this old lady is offering a preventive message to help you from catching this same dis-ease.

1. Old is a relative term.

  • When you’re 30, you suddenly understand that 25 is young.
  • When you’re 40 you chuckle at the 30-year-olds that are complaining about looking older.
  • When you’re 50 you realize you’ll never feel your age because you spent your life with misconceptions about what 50, or any age older than you are, feels like.
  • When you’re 60 you “accept” that you definitely have wrinkles and know when you’re 70 or 80 or 90 you’ll look back and think how great you looked and felt with those wrinkles.

2. Cosmetic surgery has taken away the level playing field.

  • We’re no longer all aging  “at the same rate”. That can make the normal body signs of aging more challenging to accept.
  • That being said, don’t start with cosmetic procedures because there will always be another procedure you could have, and another one and another one. There will also always be someone you can compare yourself to that looks younger than you because she’s had more procedures. Comparison is never a wise idea.
  • The cosmetic and cosmetic surgery industries are making HUGE profits off of your fear of getting older. The industries are part of inciting that fear with ads, ads and more ads telling you you’re not good enough the way you are. “Look younger!” they shout to women of any age.
  • You’re still 20, or 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 years old no matter how much Botox and cosmetic surgery is making your face and neck wrinkle-free. Gloves will have to come back into fashion all year round to hide the proof-of-age that is in your hands. Do you really want to be wearing white gloves in the summer?

3. Old is just a word, like short or tall are. Old does not inherently have a negative meaning.

  • It’s time to venerate the older generations for the stories, experience, and perspective they offer.
  • You will one day become the older generation.
  • If you don’t become old, it’s because you died.

4. Aging really is a gift.

  • I’m alive to see my grandchildren; to pass on the love and lack of rules that grandparents are supposed to do.
  • It’s finally my time. No more children to take care of. No more push to get my career off the ground. No more worrying about what other people think. I now only do the things I truly value.

Granted I still have to contend with the image that some of the younger generations have that people, particularly women, of the age of 60 don’t have a lot to offer. They’re wrong. So I’m asking you, in the comment section, to join me in a stand against a culture that says there’s something wrong with getting older, because getting older equals living.


Cross posted (it was a guest post) with changes & permission from Adios Barbie


Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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