My mother had beautiful skin with minimal care. She washed her face with Palmolive soap, put lanolin serum on with a touch of Coty power and she was good for the day. She always wore a hat that protected her face from the sun and for ninety-two years she had beautiful skin.
Today we are inundated with a plethora of products that the beauty industry tell us we need or else we will all wind up looking like prunes before we reach forty-five.
What has changed? Well there are real factors our skin is dealing with today. We have lost some of the ozone layer that makes the sun more damaging to our skin. There are more damaging free radicals in the air. Our diet contains more processed foods and the world we are living in today is more stressful. All of these things are directly related to the health of both our bodies and skin.
Unfortunately, our current culture has a deep-rooted habit of valuing women largely in terms of their attractiveness.
For women, it also means being turned from a coveted object into a disposable one. We spend our whole lives fighting our own disappearance.
We nod and agree that we should embrace our wrinkles while quietly understanding that none of us, individually, want to be the one who actually looks old.
Let’s face it. We are all getting older. But we should start “Changing the way we think about aging by starting with changing the way we talk about aging.” I’m not suggesting we give up our retinol or retinol, but maybe we should change the way we think about aging by changing the way we talk about aging.
In this culture, as a woman to age is to be erased — to be deemed irrelevant, disappear from magazine covers and popular films. For women, it also means being turned from a coveted object into a disposable one. I feel my whole life has been focused on fighting my own disappearance.
Each sign of wear on my face might be taken as evidence of my failure as a person.
I would like to read you and example: A 1926 ad for an in-store facial treatment blares, “Poor Lois — see how old she’s growing!” Female self-loathing was acknowledged openly. One ad asks, “Is it the greatest crisis of a woman’s emotional life?” Meaning: “that sudden, merciless message from a mirror’s crystal depths … ‘you are fading, just a bit.’
1930s and ’40s, Palmolive ran a series of bluntly shaming ads in magazines like Good Housekeeping and Farmer’s Wife. The soap company invented the problem of “ ‘middle-age’ skin,” a condition it claimed could afflict women as young as 22, then blamed it for all kinds of romantic disappointments, from “girls with empty date books” to the wife who “loses love.” (One ad featured an illustration of Cupid, sitting with his head in his hands, crying, “I give up!”)
Good skincare is an important part of anti-aging. We have truly come along way with research and products that genuinely will help slow the process of aging skin. But there are also a lot of products with promises that are bogus. Nothing will made us look twenty years younger. Nothing.
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