WHY I AM NOT A FAN OF THE “ANTI-AGING” TERM
Sophia Loren once said that there is a fountain of youth in each of us: “it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” If Sophia is right, and we just truly need to look into our inner self to find the fountain of youth, than why the most of us are looking to attain the modern model of physical attractiveness? Could self‐perception of aging and the perception of others aging be effected by media’s aging portrayal and the current societal “norms”?
The results of a quantitative study done with 304 Canadian women (2) puzzled the researchers: women in the study who used anti‐aging products still favored natural aging and strongly disagree with negative advertisements perpetuated by the mass media related to women and aging. Researchers in the area are still working on understanding this contradiction (5).
Youth is highly valued in western society, and younger adults are consistently viewed as more physically attractive than older adults (1). Many industries are capitalizing on these values by marketing their products and services as “anti-aging”. The term ‘anti‐aging medicine’ is used to describe “a combination of practices which include aesthetic procedures, hormone supplementation, medically supervised weight loss and exercise regimens, stress management, massage therapy, and pharmaceutical grade vitamins” (3).
I do agree with all good products and regimens that help us prevent future diseases, maintain our mind & body health and keep us healthy and sane overall. I am a scientist and curious about new and old ingredients – chemicals and biochemicals – made in the lab or derived from nature; I applaud new scientific methods that give us better and more efficient products, that make us feel good and keep us healthy, products that make our skin look better and our hair shinier.
What I do not agree with, is the term “anti-aging”. First, the term “anti‐aging medicine” implies that aging is a “disease” that can be “cured.” Secondly, it signals that the normal signs of old age, such as wrinkles and gray hair, are shameful and ugly rather than conditions to be expected and accepted (4). It seems no longer socially acceptable or even preferred to age “normally” (5).
It looks as the older woman is a part of an “at-risk” population who must monitor, treat and prevent any markers of old age. Furthermore, nowadays, young women in their yearly 20’s are told to use preventive methods or products against future unpleasant wrinkles.
We all want to experience cosmetics products that make us feel beautiful, at any age. It is good for our soul, a beauty therapy for our bodies. I just don’t want to be told that I buy a particular product because I am getting older.
How do you feel about the “anti-aging” term?
- Bugental, D. B., & Hehman, J. A. (2007). Ageism: A review of research and policy implications. Social Issues and Policy Review, 1, 173–216.
- Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2010). Womenʹs perceptions and use of ʺanti‐agingʺ products. Sex Roles, 63(1/2), 126‐137.
- Watts‐Roy, D. M. (2009). A protest vote? Users of anti‐aging medicine talk back. Health Sociology Review, 18(4), 434‐445.
- Palmore, E. B. (2007). Healthy Behaviors or Age Denials? Educational Gerontology, 33(12), 1087‐
- Clair Maureen Williams, Behind the mask: an analysis of women’s perceptions and rationale toward the purchase and use of anti-aging products, 2013.