Beauty Mask

lee-ann-brownIs it no longer enough to “age gracefully”? 

By Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown //Photo by Billy Brown

Things have gotten pretty scary these days for us women, I have to say. I don’t know if you have read any of the news headlines recently, or any magazine articles specifically aimed at women “of a certain age,” but they all seem to say that once a woman turns 50, she completely disappears from society. From what I’ve heard, women the age of 50 and over are completely overlooked by the fashion designers, advertisers, the beauty industry, the movie industry, television shows, magazines…in fact, all of society at large. And, oh yes, we are also invisible to men.

Actually, I find that this isn’t completely true. I am constantly being bombarded with advertising for products that want to help me hide the fact that I am growing older. I’m not sure if they want to help me hide this fact from myself or hide myself from society, but there is definitely a theme to all of this.

“They” have created a narrative that is a constant refrain playing out in all the advertisements, entertainment and media that we consume. That theme is “Anti-Aging.” It actually goes beyond that. Society is apparently against women aging. What else does “Anti-Aging” mean? It literally means “No Aging.” And, “Against Aging.” It’s no longer enough to “age gracefully,” but we must not actually age at all. This is, of course, just for women. If I do dare to actually “age,” then the least I could do is have the courtesy to hide the fact.

All of this came clearly into view for me one evening when I was thinking about an article I had recently read on Huff/Post50 about how middle-age women just don’t seem to be noticed, how we are overlooked by, well, everyone. I just couldn’t understand it until one night when I was going through my regular “beauty routine” and happened to notice all the products I was using. I suddenly realized that they were all “bleaching creams” and “lightening” lotions and “vanishing” potions, to “minimize,” “visibly reduce” and “fade” all age-related wrinkles, lines, dark spots, dark circles, uneven skin tone, yellowing teeth, dark and stormy stray hairs and, well, basically, everything about me. Which is very unfortunate as I am just now finally beginning to get comfortable in my own skin. Now they want to make me disappear!

Then one night when I was flipping channels on the television I saw one of those infomercials that was promising to completely eliminate my sagging neck, and my creapey, veiny skin.

It’s enough to make you want to go into hiding. Actually, the cosmetics industry is more than happy to help us with that, too. And, we willingly play along.

All day long we wear our make-up masks to hide our aging faces. We try to cover up the laugh lines and age spots with products sold to us by advertisers hungry for our money and who make us feel that our self worth is tied up in looking our best. Apparently that is only achieved by using all the make-up, and skin care, and beauty products that help us cover up our age. Then at night it is time for us to remove our mask of meticulously applied make-up with even more products created to help repair all the effects of the makeup, and time and sun and gravity and living, overnight, while we sleep. All so we can wake looking refreshed, but not refreshed enough. So we must go through the whole cover up process again the next day.

It doesn’t stop with our faces. It seems to be a problem with every part of our bodies. There are entire industries created to help us get rid of unwanted pounds and inches and promise to reduce us down whole sizes or more. I’m not sure who it is that doesn’t want the pounds and inches but they must be gotten rid of at any cost.

It’s a good thing we have all those undergarments to squeeze ourselves into until it cuts off our oxygen supply. At least we won’t be showing those unsightly extra pounds we are carrying around that are so difficult to lose the older we get.

It’s all enough to make you crazy.

Luckily, there is an endless amount of options available for medications that can help us with that, too. All you have to do is turn on the television and you will be inundated with an array of pharmaceutical options to help you feel better about the fact that you have another birthday coming up this year.

The fact is, we can play hide-and-seek with our youth and our looks and make ourselves crazy trying to fight a losing battle, but time marches on. It’s pretty scary stuff. I think I will go put on my beauty mask.

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