CommentaryOPINION

To Age or Not to Age?

“I want to die a young man at a ripe old age” – Ashley Montagu

This may seem trivial but it did spark a thought in me. Whenever I watch TV or read a magazine, I am constantly reminded to be youthful and flawless. Should I shop for an anti-wrinkle cream to wipe away those threatening lines?

I guess those anti-ageing products are preventive measures aimed at humanoids of all ages. We are told about the effects of UV damage on our skin and how toxic it is. My question is – as long as I am healthy must I be worried about the lines on my face?

The quest for everlasting youth is as old as time itself. The wicked queen in Snow White is forever obsessed with being the fairest of them all to the extent of killing her young step daughter. And so is Cinderella’s stepmother and the fairy godmother in Sleeping Beauty. They fear growing old and are envious of more youthful woman. There is satisfaction in knowing it will end in tears, which it does. We are programmed to worship youthfulness.

What can we do to preserve this youth? Like those wicked queens, the beauty industry and the media encourage us to go to war. It is the same battle cry, “preventative measures, taking action, fighting the signs and banishing wrinkles”. We are so used to this quasi-military terminology.

Women’s magazines trumpet “breakthroughs in the battle against ageing”. Is it any wonder why we fear ageing?

Anti-ageing is the grist to the TV shows’ mill, multi-media etc. Women’s magazines use bellicose words to tempt us into chronological warfare. We “fight” the visible signs of ageing using weapons of crass destruction such as Botox, fillers and anything cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies can dream up.

The war on ageing is on! It supersedes vanity. It has become a battle of the “free radicals” against evil collagen depletion. Product marketing insists that an aged face is a diseased one that we must fight and cure.

A wrinkled face no longer represents maturity and wisdom; it is the world’s sworn enemy. The beauty business features models telling us to thwart ageing before it is too late. Over-priced products like “Biocollasis Complex Cell Recovery Cream” beckon, when we don’t know what the name means?

The beauty companies are warmongers. Rally the troops. Together we must fight the threat of mature skin.

These treatments obscure a more disturbing aspect of our society that we speak of ageing as a disease. What are these “preventable” signs? Why do we believe it’s possible to “turn back the clock”? This goes to the heart of age-anxiety: not simply that we fear our mortality, but are ashamed of ageing.

This fear is sown in us from young perhaps. Fears of ageing are fed to women from childhood, in stories and fairy tales full of terrifying old witchy figures.ast anti-aging

Maybe the knife or the laser or that magic cream is the coward’s way out, or maybe it is not. Who are we to judge?

The pressure is so powerful that opting in and making fun are two sides of the same coin. When it comes to ageing, it is not like we have a choice. I suppose the kindest thing we can do is approach it with an open mind and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Worrying, of course, causes wrinkles.

Cecilia Chan

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