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How Much Does America Hate Old People?

Earlier this week, ML at Full Fathom Five took Parade magazine to task for equating anti-aging procedures such as microdermabrasion, Botox injections and chemical peels with health, and she alerted Crabby Old Lady to the story when they had lunch with Claude of Blogging in Paris on Wednesday.

Crabby is spitting mad. It (unfortunately) is to be expected that such magazines as Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, controlled as they are by the youth and beauty police, might promote unnecessary medical procedures as life goals for the terminally vain. Those magazines have dedicated themselves for decades to maintaining youth as the only acceptable stage of life.

But as ML points out in her story, Parade is a general interest, if fluffy, third-grade-reading-level magazine inserted into about a gazillion Sunday newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada. It is not the sort of publication that goes out on a limb; its sole purpose is to reflect America back on itself, repeating and reinforcing conventional wisdom.

So it is a received cultural orthodoxy when Parade's story in question, titled “The Best Beauty Breakthroughs”, is included in a large section slugged WOMEN’S HEALTH SPECIAL, [the emphasis is Crabby's] as this scanned headline shows.


Crabby Old Lady is furious that wrinkles and sags are equated with the serious health issues of physical energy, breast cancer, heart disease, organ donation and exercise. These could not in any sane society be compared. Even more infuriating is the unstated assumption of the story that every living person wants to avoid the signs of aging as much as they wish to avoid cancer.

This story is the worst example Crabby has seen in a long time of how hateful American culture finds old people. If they can’t get rid of us by denying us jobs through age discrimination in the workplace or by isolating us in retirement village ghettos where no one younger than 55 is allowed to live or by treating our (real) health problems less aggressively than those of younger people – then they’ll force us to become grotesque simulacra of youth to not offend their delicate sensibilities of what is attractive.

This story is no different than if they were promoting as a health benefit (or vanity; it doesn’t matter which) poisonous chemicals and injections to lighten the skin of people of color. Outrageous, you say? Offensive? Loathsome? You betcha. And so is this magazine story.

If Crabby were a less polite old lady, she would be using the F word about Parade, its editors and the horse they rode in on. Anyone who thinks Crabby and ML are making too much of Parade's odious "health" story, go read this.


Crabby, I saw this article and had the same reaction as you did. Parade is a bathroom break read, not something to get advice from. We just don't appreciate or understand that skin pulled back behind the ears, poison injected into an expressionless face, and big, puffy fish lips is a sexy and youthful look.

This comes at a good time--I am still fuming about a television ad for Botox that I just saw!

My reaction upon reading this issue was 'A$$HOLES.' There you have it. I DID peer at my face, laughed and then tossed the thing into the recycling bin. The Parade issue - not my face. Heh.

One phrase: obnoxiously insulting. This country's love affair with youth and beauty is at best, pathetic!

I hate Parade magazine with a passion. It's one of the things that made me stop reading newspapers altogether.

I'll be forty eight next month, often get compliments on my great skin, and have never had any of that shit done. it's just not necessary. All you need to have great skin is to wash your face, use a good sunscreen and moisturizer (I use Nivea's Co-Q10, sunsceen included), drink lots of water and once in a while if you feel like a treat, get a good facial. That's about it. The rest of that crap is just bullshit.

I didn't read the Parade piece. I also see no reason why the things mentioned above should be under the category of health, looking better doesn't fool aging. However, microdermabrasions are about refreshing the skin, and good for any age. The ones I have had are not painful, not invaasive and I don't see why I should quit wanting to make the most of my looks just because I'm 63. I accept that I am going to look older but also see no reason to not have fun with it and do what i can to look as good as possible. I won't do poisons or surgeries; I want to keep the face I have. However, I also know I don't have to have age spots or skin with no luster.

Has anybody gotten on their broomstick and written to Parade (unavailable over here)?

I was just writing to another blogger about magazines. I like to look at them because I really love high fashion. I KNOW they only display it on 14 year old waifs, but the skill and artistry is wonderful. They won't make a magazine showing the actual customers of haute couture, older women who can afford it!

Perhaps that's a market to look into. . . .

As I shared a few posts ago, the culture of aging (like all cultures) will to anything to maintain the past and prevailing conventional this case that age is not a good thing. It will first try to ignore, then assimilate-homoginize and finally attack anything that suggests 'reality' isn't what we think and that real fundamental changes are possible. This is an example of "if-you-can't-stop-aging-then-make-it-young-by-redefining-it". Age has always been related to as an 'individual' problem (like health) and our institutions treat us like sick fish rather than observing that the pond is polluted. This is what cultural blindess is all about and the remedy is to wake up the unenlightened while creating our new reality. Don't fight AGAINST ignorance or we will get more of what we resist. Fight FOR something and we can CREATE a new culture of aging where who we are is more important that how old we are.

I found the NYTimes article you mentioned (in your link --your other post) to be very interesting, too.

In a culture that stresses individualism, mobility and monetary status at the expense of the group will lose site of the importance of elders in the well being of the community at large. And there is probably a direct correlation to the extension of youth well into the 20s or beyond when the youth culture is so glorified and elders aren't part of the extended family...

Just rambling. Luv your posts.

Are there no magazines out there glorifying the beauty of older people?

Wondering when the magazine publishing industry will wake up...

Go get 'em! Very eloquent post.

The Parade "article" was disgraceful; however, this is not an issue that discriminates based on age.

If you lack the high-speed connection to view the video, check out the before and after shots of this magazine cover photo. Even a thin, 14-year-old blonde doesn't meet the unrealistic standard of beauty touted in our magazines.

I certainly share your anger with Parade magazine as I commented on Four Fathom Five blog:

"Thanks for bringing this example of the prostitution of the word "health," a perfect example of how false images of what constitutes healthy aging practices in this commercially driven culture are perpetrated."

What was I thinking ... I made that comment on "Full Fathom Five" -- it's been a long day of work and classes. Sorry, ML.

yeah. just because you're old & ugly doesn't mean anyone has the right to tell you so!

Those people that are so insecure that they undergo get Botox, microdermabrasion, and facelifts to attempt to look younger are ridiculous. Look at any celebrity's picture that has had cosmetic surgery,then glance at their hands. It looks ridiculous to see a person whose face looks like they are in their late 30's but whose hands that look like their real age. My grandmother was 75 and she was beautiful to me. Her natural lines, skin tones,and wrinkles were part of her beauty at that age. Parade magazine disrespected older people.

"Old age and treachery will beat youth and beauty every time"


uncle tucky

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