Updated: Dec 8, 2021
The AgeLess vs AgeWell Debate
Is Ageless Living and Ageless looking what we really want? Do we want to be totally Ageless? I say no.
I recently saw an announcement for an Ageless Webinar followed by an Ageless Extravaganza. There are countless products touting an Ageless Glo, Ageless or Age Defying Look, Ageless lifestyle.
This seems to me to be counterintuitive thinking.
To be Ageless is to deny the years of experience, and wisdom, accumulated along life’s journey.
A friend recalled a story with her granddaughter who asked why she had so many wrinkles.
Her reply was that she earned those wrinkles. That they tell a story of a long life lived with lots of experiences and wisdom gained that she can now pass on to her granddaughter. This struck me as being brilliant.
But, several years earlier I had my own confrontation with the Ageless experience.
I opted for cosmetic eye surgery. I was as much of a victim of our society’s trillion-dollar cosmetic industry assertion that we should be erasing wrinkles by spending millions of dollars on creams, injecting fillers, age defying treatments, and yes, cosmetic surgery.
My mother had me at the age of 40. My recollection of her reaction to the change in her features as she aged dates from the time when I was a teenager and she was in her mid-fifties.
She would look in the mirror, put her fingers on the outer edges of her eyes, on her forehead and cheeks and push upward obviously longing for seeing her face with a more youthful look. Have you ever done that?
When I began to see the bags under my eyes, my drooping eyelids, and drooping jowls, my first thoughts were that I was looking like my mother. The image of her hands on her face, pushing everything upward, had me thinking I needed to do something to erase those signs of aging.
My first appointment was for a lower face lift. I went for the pre appointments, did all the necessary blood and prep work. I was excited at the prospect that I would no longer look like my mother with her drooping eyelids and jowls. That I would look as I did ten or fifteen years earlier.
At last, the day arrived. I was prepped and on the table for surgery. The plastic surgeon began marking my face when he took one last look at my intake form and realized I had taken a single dose of medication for a migraine just 1 week earlier. He thought better of it and cancelled the surgery. I was devastated.
Unfortunately, I didn’t dodge the cosmetic surgery bullet. The nagging desire to do something to counteract the evidence of aging was ever present. Two years later I opted for cosmetic eye surgery for my upper and lower eyelids. After I was recovered, I returned to ballroom dancing. My ballroom dance teacher, a gentleman in his early sixties who was showing the signs of his age, asked me why I didn’t want to grow old gracefully as there is beauty in aging. Being that my earliest recollection associated with signs of aging was my mother pulling back on her drooping eyelids and jowls, I had no way of identifying with graceful aging or the beauty in showing signs of age.
I felt prey, not only based on recollections of my mother, but what millions of other men and women fall prey to based on aggressive cosmetic industry marketing. The U.S. Anti-Aging Products market estimated to be worth $14.2 Billion in the year 2020. The country currently accounts for a 27.04% share and the industry is projected to be worth $83.2 Billion by the year 2027.
Isn't the root at entire notion of an anti-aging market the essence of ageism?
Should not the concern be more about Aging Well? Aging Beautifully? Aging Gracefully?
To be proud of how we look. After all, it is said that gray is the new blonde.
I've wrestled with that debate within myself. Why am I still dying my hair? Is it a mere justification that I identify myself as a redhead? (not my natural color) That it fits my personality? That I enjoy what seems to have become part of my brand identity an excuse for deeper feelings about having a head of gray hair?
Is my other reasoning that I'm fair skinned with light eyes that a would leave a head of gray hair have me looking washed out and tired which would result in me always having to wear makeup just another excuse?
Or, am I merely doing it to cover the gray? Should I not be embracing the gray as I now believe I should be embracing the changes in my facial features?
I concluded that healthy aging does not mean hiding or trying to defy all signs of aging. It means embracing and enhancing our looks and ensuring that our lifestyle is one that is healthy and supports the highest level of health and well-being.
For more years than I can recall, I've metaphorically likened our bodies to a car; a closed system that runs according to precision timing, well lubricated parts, and a specific interrelationship of sophisticated machinery and electrical systems. A pin hole in a hose, an overheated thermostat or the misfiring of the timing system can cause a partial or total breakdown. Overall the system requires regular maintenance checks to fine tune the systems, exchange fluids and ensure adequate lubrication ensuring it runs safely and smoothly. The exterior also requires regular care, washing, waxing, to maintain its exterior appearance, and regular tire air pressure checks and rotation to ensure the car is supported properly on the road.
However, all the care and maintenance checks cannot defy the changes in the internal workings of the system at 50,000 miles, 75,000 miles, 90 or 100,000 miles. Ultimately, the wear and tear takes its toll and systems begin to break down. Breaks need changing or resurfacing, engine or transmission troubles require costly repairs, alternators stop firing and cars just stop running. Essentially with the accumulation of miles, the car has run its course.
So it is with our bodies. We may primp and preen, moisturize and peel, inject, surgically lift and excise. However, the internal working are still running according to the
number of years we've accumulated.
We need to be be Well Nourished on all fronts. This is not exclusively related to food. Social connection is high on the list for emotional nourishment. Other ingredients for a well-nourished life include learning and stimulation for a well-nourished mind, an activity level for the body and avenues for the spirit.
There is no formula for each of these areas. As each person is unique, so will their choices including how and where one chooses to live, and with whom.
Are you doing anything that could be considered an attitude of ageism?
What are your plans and choices for a well nourished life?
See Blue Zones, Healthful Living, Healthful Aging, Well-Being, Social Connection, Healthy Lifestyle