Universal Healthcare is in the Air
Generations of Feminism

Old and Tired of Ranting Against the Same Old, Same Old

category_bug_ageism.gif A couple of days ago Suzanne, who blogs from Canada in French and English at Au Fil Du Temps (hey, that translates to AS Time Goes By, heh heh heh), remarked in comments here:

“Aging itself is not allowed. Taking care of your body is no longer a personal choice, it is a duty. We are drafted in a war against the normal process of aging. That too is age nullification. We are denying aging like we are denying dying. Do looking tired, or old, being wrinkled, have to be punishable crimes against society. If you are not part of the herd running to the gym, eating a-b-c-d-e-f-g vitamins, you are guilty of something. I'm only 47 and I already feel all that pressure…”

By chance, a New York Times piece titled Is Looking Your Age Now Taboo? [subscription required] has been sitting on my desk awaiting attention since 1 March. Reporter Natasha Singer writes:

“Are wrinkles to become a thing of the past for the self-selected few, like crooked teeth after the advent of modern orthodontics? At the very least, wrinkles are being repositioned as the new gray hair – another means to judge attractiveness, romantic viability, professional competitiveness and social status…

“By now the disdain for [wrinkles] is ingrained in the culture. This month even the magazine of the AARP, a group dedicated to fighting ageism, published a coverline exhorting readers ‘Look Younger Now: Erase Ten Years (or More)’ – effectively canonizing the notion that a face that telegraphs age is out of date.”

In other words, the war against elders is growing more militant. If you aren’t getting a face lift or Botox injections, just put a bag over your head. No one wants to see you.

Two or three evenings ago, I caught an Olay commercial on television for – get this – Age Defying Body Wash which promises to “wash time away every day.” Soon, it won’t be just facial wrinkles that are taboo; we will be forced to cover our hands, knees and elbows as those wrinkles are deemed as offensive as the ones on our faces.

The requirement to maintain a facsimile of youth is unrelenting and those smug holy joes who regularly turn up to tell the rest of us that "age is just a number" and to ignore the cultural pressure have no doubt never been dismissed as “overqualified” when applying for a job.

The Times writer quotes a real estate broker in Maryland who has already partaken of Botox injections, chemical peels and laser treatments at the near-infant age of 33:

“If you want to sell a million-dollar house, you have to look good,” she says. “You have to look good, and you have to have confidence that you look good.”

Translation: "Good" = young and your job is in jeopardy if you are not.

From where I sit, the woman sounds sadly superficial, but she is not far off from the truth, growing every day, that not using all possible means to eliminate signs of aging is a crime punishable by exile from life itself.

I was wondering, after seeing that Olay commercial, what amount of outrage there might be if people with dark skin were as constantly exhorted to use chemical and medical means to lighten their skin. Will someone please tell me what is different about the ceaseless admonitions to eliminate wrinkles.

In the three years I’ve been ranting here about the age and beauty police, the cultural pro-youth/anti-wrinkle lobby has grown by magnitudes. I am tired, today, of bucking the trend. Tired of age discrimination in the workplace and second-class healthcare for elders.

Tired of elders labeled lesser beings for not dying young.

Tired of youth as the gold standard of life.

Tired of repeating myself.

Oh so tired…


Comments

Tired? You must be old!!
Watch! That'll appear in an advertisement.
Your blog is terrific. Maybe it isn't too good for your psychic health. Don't know how you keep on shoveling against the tide.

You are entitled to having one "bad" day........in the midst of all the "great" days when you've written. Thanks for sharing all your days with me/us. Dee

Hey, I take this great vitamin...

*insert mischievious grin*

Hang in there, lady, we need ya.

I can well understand how you feel. Everything in this country is aimed at making money and there is no money in helping people grow old gracefully, naturally healthily. It's all about buying something, anything.

And what gets to me is it's not about beauty but about youth. Why has youth become, as it said, the gold standard? I don't get it. I do call myself old because I can't figure out a better word for being 63 and I don't mind it one bit. What was so special about the term middle-aged? Old is what we make it but trying to deny it as a stage of life is cheating ourselves out of an experience that is part of the whole process which not everyone even gets to experience.

It's too bad we are in such a youth oriented culture, where elders are not admired or looked to for wisdom, and this is particularly true where it comes to women. It's crazy as why do people think youth have the answers, know better how to sell real estate, or do anything that requires some years of experience? Most likely it's all coming out of our media, the advertising world, and all goes back to that dollar again.

A man I knew years ago when I lived in Oklahoma (he's 75-80 now, I would guess) used to lament that he was a child in a time that didn't value youth and has lived his adult life in a time that doesn't value age. Maybe that's the case for a lot of us.

I have to say that I privately fear people may have been listening to that "don't trust anyone over 30" garbage so many were spouting 40 years ago. To the extent that is true, we may be reaping what we have sown.

Here's the plain fact: if we did not value age, wisdom and experience when we were young, we were wrong about that. Period.

People who don't value age, wisdom and experience now are wrong. Period.

I'm interested that someone else connected the American obsession with perfect teeth via orthodontics to its acceptance of plastic surgery...which seems like the next logical step.

I don't feel the pressure from advertisers to look perfect. But then I never have. As a teenager I bought books instead of makeup and I haven't been to a hairdressers since my twenties. I've had one professional manicure in my life (a present) and if you look at my nails, you'd know I spend most of my time gardening.

I'm more worried about what advertisers are selling to young women who aren't old enough to shrug off peer pressure and who aren't experienced enough yet to value what's within.

If we're lucky we'll all grow older and it will show. Our bodies and faces will show the effects of the aging process. We should at the very least be ashamed of this. As for myself, I've decided on denial. I'm going to pretend it isn't happening and carry on regardless.

I appreciate your blog so much! I'm so glad you're discussing these issues.

Go get yourself some pick-me-up herbs, take up ballroom dancing, or whatever it takes. Then, with that rejuvenation you can continue railing against ageism and all that, 'cause we surely do need your continued words on the topic.

Ronni, I know just what you mean about feeling tired. It gets to me too sometimes.
As I look around at all the stuff I feel passionate about and write books and articles and stories and blogs about, I notice that wherever I turn I seem to be involved in some form of pushing the proverbial s**t uphill.
Whether it is simple, sustainable living, clean, local, seasonal produce, social justice, respect for other life forms, child-centred learning, peace, Earth-based spirituality, alternative technology or the joys of aging naturally, (and I write about all of those) I always seem to end up part of some minority or other. Why am I forever feeling like David and why does Goliath seem to keep getting bigger all the time?
It’s not that I am rebellious by nature. I spent the first thirty-odd years of my life being pretty much like everyone else. (Until my local council started spraying toxic chemicals in our street, I discovered how bad the local schools were and Vietnam happened). Now, the older I get, the more involved I get, the more passionately I care about so many things and the more time I seem to spend feeling indignant about something and trying to change it.
Wouldn’t it be marvellous to feel like part of a majority for once? (sigh)
I comfort myself by remembering pendulums and how, when they have gone as far as they can go in one direction, they always start to swing back. I’m 70 now but if they all swing fast, maybe I’ll get to be a mainstream person again before I die.

I can identify with you, Ronni, about being tired of repeating myself. There are issues I have always passionately cared about and I have ranted in letters to the editor, my friends, etc.until I am blue in the face. Nothing seems to change and there are days when I decide that I don't need the stress of caring anymore. Then I read of another injustice and the adrenalin kicks in and I write another letter. I guess if we keep on trying things will eventually get better; look at the attitude about universal health care that you recently covered. I had almost given that up as a lost cause. Hang in there and keep on ranting.

What I see is "Madison Avenue advertising campaigns" trying to "separate" us from our "money"....Buy this product, Buy that product....Nothing has changed.....

Just wondering. How are all those Botoxed women eventually going to square whatever degree of cognitive decline that seems to accompany aging with their plumped up lips, smoothed brows and carefully dyed and permed hair. "She looks great, but have you talked to her lately?"

Agree with a flat tax system

Oh, God. It is depressing. I will be 45 in Decemember, and I am currently unemployed. I feel the pressure more than ever now that I am looking for a new job. I thought that it would change, now that the society is ageing. But the movement to look young forever reinforces the idea that youth is a virtue and getting older is evil somehow.

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