beauty

Are the words 'anti-aging' about to go the way of the floppy disk?

This week Allure magazine announced it will no longer use the words “anti-aging”.

“Starting with this issue,” wrote editor-in-chief of the US beauty and fashion magazine Michelle Lee.

“We are making a resolution to stop using the term ‘anti-aging’. Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that aging is a condition we need to battle — think anti-anxiety meds, antivirus software, or antifungal spray.”

Lee says the new publishing edict has come about because “language matters” and after a woman reaches around 35 we have a tendency to talk about her looks with qualifiers. “She looks great for her age … or she’s beautiful for an older woman.”

Allure Magazine's editor-in-chief Michelle Lee.

Lee believes we need to embrace and appreciate aging rather than resist it.

It's a lovely idea. It nearly feels empowering just like the Conde Nast offices where marketers and social media managers, editors and publishers would have met in a neat circle and come up with the idea.

It nearly feels like something to celebrate - language is vital and often its examination is the first step on the long path to changing how society views an issue or particular groups of people.

And even though Helen Mirren, the sexiest 70-something woman on the planet (and we know this because everyone keeps mentioning how sexy she is for 70 something, ) appears on the cover resplendent in a crisp white shirt and tattooed male arm as a scarf calling to ban the word, it's nothing I feel grateful for.

Helen Mirren is the face of Allure Magazine's campaign to stop using the term "anti-aging".
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I know what I am up against.

Since I was a teenager I knew one of the biggest sins I could commit as a woman was to age. To have crow's feet, saggy, uneven skin, puppet lines around my mouth, a crepey neck, slack eyelids. The list could go on.

When I was a teenager the models in women's magazines were teenagers too, the mums to 16-year-old children on TV were 29 and the dads 52, the older women leads in movies were completely and utterly absent. Nothing much has changed in 20 odd years except Meryl Streep has become the card carrying interesting older woman lead on the big screen.

Allure's ban on the words "anti-aging" is great marketing, a nice sentiment and a drop in the ocean when it comes to the great societal calculator of a woman's worth: youth x beauty x fuckability.

LISTEN: Christie Brinkley says she's battling ageism with this cover shot... and we're confused.

It's a hard calculation to beat. Because living means getting older and getting older means aging.

It's also been a hard calculation to change.

The global beauty industry is worth $445 billion a year. It has never truly cared. It's like that handsome boyfriend who will never commit, who for some strange reason, you keep believing, keep chasing after, keep looking at yourself in the mirror asking "what's wrong with me and if I can just fix it everything will be ok".

Everywhere we look there is beauty, youth, a woman selling roof tiles with perfect clear skin and a pert bottom. This weight of losing something you can never reclaim is always in front of us, heavy on our shoulders, a failure in our hearts.

I lost my youth where the hell did I put it?

Lee is right, we need to embrace and appreciate getting older and not feel as though we are committing the ultimate sin by aging.

But how? How do we ignore what we see, what we hear, what we feel?

Maybe we start slowly. Each one of us. By ourselves.

Maybe we don't look for other people to ban words to make us feel better. Maybe we look at what we embrace and appreciate everyday that is outside ourselves, that has nothing to do with our looks or our age. A wine with girlfriends, laughing with family, running 10km, being promoted at work or just finding flexibility you are happy with, an unexpected sweet text from a teen, a mango.

Then once we truly believe ourselves what comprises our worth, we go to work on that outdated, shitty little equation that has been stalking us our whole lives.

A woman's worth = youth x beauty x fuckability.

Banning the words "anti-aging" is like throwing a dehydrated pea at it.  We need to nuke that equation.

We need a revolution inside and outside ourselves because our worth as we age, by every measure, is extraordinary.

We just need to see that in the mirror.

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