An interview on anti-aging, pro-aging, and the "imagined 25-year-old" in beauty industry marketing.
great interview! to add, i think interacting with older women (be that your grandmother, mother, or friends) especially in your community is a very healing way of learning to accept and celebrate aging/living. we need those community connections and we need to see 'normal' women/people aging to be able to truly become excited about getting older and growing into who we are as people. from a young age i have had great older women as role models and seen them age and live and it has definitely helped me resist a lot of the anti-aging marketing because i have grown up loving them as they are. it also resists the capitalist push to become more individualized, which definitely is a part of the anti-aging industry. just my 2 cents!
I want this interview to be in the Barbie movie instead of the "it's LITERALLY impossible to be a woman" speech. I loved reading this. You so clearly map out how "pro/anti-aging" rhetoric can warp a person's sense of autonomy. Botox isn't health! not even mentally! The positioning of beauty as health is dangerous and exhausting and I'm glad you addressed that here. love your work.
(note: i think the barbie speech was fine, in a hollywood way)
Awesome article, as always. I sincerely wish J-Lo, Martha Stewart, Halle Berry, etc. would just be honest about the true cost of their beauty maintenance. I’m a 46 year old woman and trying to figure out how to just stay as healthy as possible to enjoy my second half of life. These women (no shade on them, truly) are putting out false messaging about how genes and face creams can keep them well and stereotypically beautiful. Why can’t we just be honest as a culture about our choices? I value authenticity at this stage of life and would really like to know why the facade needs to go on. If J-Lo works out 2 hours a day, has had multiple facelifts, etc. etc I think it would go a long way towards humanizing her.
I understand that I--as a private individual--don’t need to know J-Lo’s business. I agree about her private life. When she starts talking about her natural youthfulness, that’s when we should call bs. These women have privilege and money, and I think we need to treat their bodies and faces like Lamborghinis: something regular folks just can’t afford and aren’t interested in investing or maintaining.
I was genuinely thrilled as I was reading this! The clarity of your position is really powerful.
"We have to start valuing rest and introspection and hobbies that don’t end up as income streams. We have to find worth outside of our appearance and output.": this is magnificent.
Also wonderful to read words invoking the human spirit.
Here's holding that the interviewer finds a way to flip their own script, discontinue their product line & release this interview!
I wish we lived in a world where women were allowed to age. Seriously. Have you ever notice that women who don’t try to fight age with every thing available are frequently labeled as letting themselves go? I’ve often wondered at what age does society ever allow women to appear old?
Aging certainly beats the alternative! I confess I feel conflicted: I’m 46, make no bones about my age, and don’t even dye my hair. However, U also work out like a fiend and cringe when I think about the day that I finally become invisible. I’ve gone through most of live being conveniently attractive but I was never a great beauty nor made a living off my looks. I can’t imagine what it must be to have done so and be confronted with the realities of aging in this society.
So, so, so good. I’m so glad this is one of the Substack titles I pay for — worth every penny.
I can see why, besides your "shit fit on the phone," they didn't air the interview. They couldn't actually play anything you said whilst also trying to shill for a celebrity/influencer/whomever. I really appreciated everything you said but these stood out: (1) anti-aging pursuit as an aspect of internalized self-harm, perpetual self-hate. (2) "Aging is living." Aging is the goal; living is the goal. (3) Being alive in this capitalist, mediated nexus of self-hate & harm requires a 'spirit' solution...finding our inner spirit and staying in sight of it despite dopamine hits, capitalism, profits, influencers, desires, hundreds of years of religiously based narrative about how our 'beautiful' bodies are meant to be temples (and indicate our success/failure/discipline/ascetic daily living). THIS is a good reminder to me to get real about my wallet, my bathroom cupboard, and my spirit/soul/precious, evaporating life.
Really impressed with your language talent to keep reminding us and all what “beauty culture” and anti-aging truly mean. Thanks again for another informative article about the ultimate goal is to live life!
I have a sticker of Karl Marx overlaid with the caption "I blame Capitalism." I had it made into a button and I wear it next to my button that says "I am awaited in Valhalla." I'm 75 and I say the hell with it.
Sorry for all the posts, but I really am in favor of people doing whatever they want with their bodies. However, it’s so disingenuous for celebrities to claim that they look younger thanks to “diet, exercise, and genetics.” I’m not saying those things do not play a factor, but let’s be honest. The real thing that they have that most women do not is unlimited funds to pay for various procedures to appear younger. Again, I’m not knocking that, but please be honest about it, I used to be a yoga instructor and I taught about 4 to 5 days a week at various places. People used to complement me on how fit I was, but I always told them my chosen profession was not normal. Most people do not have the time or the money to work out for hours a day. And I was in my early 30s at the time. Looking back, I really hope that I did not promote unrealistic standards.
Aging is part of living - something that is foreign to so many. It's refreshing to hear from a woman who gets it and clearly communicates it. I'd like to have you as a guest on my podcast, Sylvia & Me. And no, I don't have an aging brand, don't intend to promote one or align myself with one. Having conversations with extraordinary women who have a voice and a passion is my passion. firstname.lastname@example.org Cheers, Sylvia
Wow, you were on fire 🔥🔥🔥
This is so great.
I was just home over the weekend helping my dad settle some things with the move that he and my mom just made.
My husband and I were grabbing dinner in the bar of the restaurant we frequent when we are in town. It is one of those places where the floor show is as good as the food.
The night we went, two high school reunions were in town, so there were all sorts of performative beauty projects parading through the establishment.
On one had, it was super fun to see older people having so much fun with their attire and their hair. On the other hand, I had no idea if I knew anyone because no one had a face that looked real.
Now those are their bodies, their business, the kicker came when we went to tab out and leave. The bartender asked me if I was in town for the reunion upstairs. (It was the class of ‘77, I was 10 for most of that year. I don’t dye my hair or do any to my face other than rinse it off with a washcloth at the end of the day.) I realize to this 20 something I must look like the Cryptkeeper, but someone has to start training the eyes of our young people as to what aging women look like.
Plus I like seeing my grandmother’s face in the mirror.
Thanks for such a great piece Jessica.
Smashing beauty and wellness culture will take all of us going NOPE, is whatever way that looks like for us.
I sure appreciate you sharing your wisdom on this today.
"And finding meaning and purpose in our lives. And facing our mortality. I know it sounds heavy, but that’s a huge part of ageism and internalized ageism." It sounds heavy until you find purpose and meaning and a sense of your own little, inner, AGELESS spirit. When I'm able to cultivate her and be with her and delight in her I feel extremely liberated and light. Dare I say... radiant.