[WHERE ELDERS BLOG: There are two new entries in the Where Elders Blog feature. You can see the page for MissKriss here and for MizBonnie here. Here are instructions for submitting your own blog writing or reading workplace.]
Anyone who has been reading TimeGoesBy for awhile knows my feelings about cosmetic surgery and other medical interventions that attempt to camouflage age by make the person appear to be younger than he or she is.
Most obviously, the injections and surgeries don't work. Botox, etc. might fill in a wrinkle for a period of time and a nip/tuck might smooth out a line temporarily, but it always must be redone again and again. It fools no one because those procedures cannot reinvent the amazing, dewy complexion of a teen or early 20-something which is the greater hallmark of youth.
At their worst, those injections freeze the face into something like rigor mortis and the surgeries turn people into mid- and late-age grotesqueries. Several aging television personalities who had a too much enthusiasm for the knife in the past are on the verge of slipping into that latter category any day now.
But my number one objection is that all attempts to appear younger than what is naturally written on one's face are ageist. And more, every person who makes the attempt is telling the world that growing old is the worse thing that can happen.
You may think that has nothing to do with you. After all, you are perfectly comfortable in your aging self, right? But you would be mistaken to think you are unaffected.
The attitude and belief that old age must be avoided even at the cost of dangerous surgery and poisonous injections is the reason for the social invisibility of elders. It gives certain politicians' cover to repeatedly try to cut programs elders have spent their lives paying for and it causes age discrimination in the workplace that shortens the careers of thousands every year long before they are ready to retire.
All this came to mind recently when I ran across a reference to a new HBO documentary, About Face (clever title). From what the short, teaser trailer shows, the film addresses the topic of aging and facelifts with a bunch of older fashion models such as Paulina Porizkova, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Jerry Hall, China Machado and Isabella Rossellini. Take a look.
Isabella Rosselini notes the truth that as we get old, “we don't count anymore,” and another of the women points out that the “whole society makes us want to stay young.”
Yale psychologist Becca R. Levy has been studying aging for more than 20 years. Her research shows that the constant bombardment of negative stereotypes about age increases blood pressure – ageism can literally make old people sick.
Levy told the Washington Post:
“[W]e have found that when we activate negative age stereotypes, older individuals tend to show a decline in memory performance, self-confidence, will to live and handwriting,” said Levy.
“In contrast, we have found that when we activate positive age stereotypes we tend to find beneficial changes in these same areas.”
Good luck finding any of those “positive age stereotypes” anywhere in your day-to-day life.
It remains to be seen if HBO's About Face has a point of view on ageism. The doc will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012.
It is Christmas week and readers have been laying some fine, fun seasonal videos on me in the past few days. Because they tend to get stale when festivities are finished, I'll include as many as possible during the rest of this week.
”Cat owners know that setting up and decorating the holiday tree may be made into an infinitely more harrowing ordeal than usual if there's a curious cat around. It turns out that whether or not that cat can see makes little different.”
So here is Oskar the Blind Kitten and the Christmas Tree.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Stroppy: Old Kitten on the Keys