We’ve all seen the infomercials: the age-defying skin serum, the miraculous eye repair creams. We’ve heard the promises of rejuvenated skin and the disappearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In particular, women tend to receive the brunt of these targeted ad campaigns because let’s face it, there is an intense stigma around the ageing of women and so many of us have bought into the fear of what ageing brings as a female.
I know I have. I would be lying if I said it didn’t scare me to think about the reality that I will no longer be in my 20s in less than 5 years’ time. The idea of women ageing, greying, wrinkling, sagging, you name it, is so steeped in a notion of “lesser than” and a diminished value that frankly, men just don’t face. It’s almost as if it is expected for men to grow old, but women should somehow defy the odds… like I said, “age-defying.” Meanwhile, men get the “silver fox” compliment. They get told that their greying hair makes them look “mature” and able to be taken “more seriously.” Can you imagine? Women are told to hide an otherwise natural phenomenon behind wrinkle repair and root touchups, while men get a free pass to simply be their age.
Maybe that’s why it was so awe-inspiring to see Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kill it during the intense, upbeat, party anthem that was the Super Bowl Halftime Show. And you know what? Maybe we should see more of that; maybe it is important for women, and men, to see and understand how completely powerful and amazing women can be at all ages and that their value does not diminish as they age.
J. Lo and Shakira looked amazing, absolutely. But they did not look amazing “for their age” right? No, of course not. They simply are beautiful, mega-talented superstars who deserve recognition for their singing, dancing, drum-solo-playing, not because of their age or in spite of it, but completely regardless of it. They deserve recognition because they have incredible talent and value, as women, as people; just like we all do, regardless of our ages.
There’s certainly another component to the ageing phobia we have all been taught to adopt, as well. There is a huge market that is able to play off of women’s insecurities and fears. We are taught to hate our imperfections from a young age, and eventually when those imperfections morph from acne to crow’s feet, well there’s a market for that too, and they are making a lot of money off of women.
In fact, in 2019 the global anti-ageing market was estimated to be worth about 53.03 billion U.S. dollars, having grown from 50.2 billion dollars the year before, and with projections reaching $66.2 billion by 2023.
Women have been taught from the time they were born that the way to perfection and happiness can be found in the cosmetics aisle. And while I love a luxurious facemask and glittery eye shadow as much as the next, let’s not kid ourselves over what all this hype around beauty and ageing really is. It’s a moneymaker and it has nothing to do with our value as women, rather the ticker value of these anti-ageing brands’ stocks.
It’s time that society stops squelching the value that women bring to the table; from 23 to 73. It’s so vital to prioritize the representation of women of all ages, and yes that means those who are – *gasp* – over the age of 40. It is well past time to tear down the stigma that somehow women are “lesser than” their younger counterparts and even more so than their male counterparts. Let’s stop acting like women simply disappear after they exit their 20s. We do not grow invisible and we certainly do not grow less powerful or talented. So yes, while our hips may never lie, the lies the anti-ageing industry and our own internalized ageing phobias have told us most certainly do.