“Anti-ageing”. Think about it: It couldn’t be more negative, could it?
Anti-ageing is one of those expressions that’s used so much in the beauty industry and the media that I can imagine most of us are somewhat numb to its literal meaning, would you agree? It’s bandied about so much that we just accept it as the standard way to describe products that [ahem] promise to roll back the years, make us look 10 years younger, give us a youthful glow.
But like that awful term “real women” (ugh! that’s a topic for another time), anti-ageing has severely negative connotations. It’s actually saying “against ageing”. And I’m not AGAINST ageing – I’m FOR it! I’ve got no choice – and neither does any other woman on the planet. Because what’s the alternative…?
It was quite a while ago that I first wrote about my dislike of the term anti-ageing. Since then I’ve written a few posts about skincare and “anti-ageing” products (that I wished were called something else), but I’ve decided that from now on I’ll no describe anything as anti-ageing – and I’ll focus on PRO-ageing as an alternative.
A damning report about “anti-ageing” in the beauty industry
In my monthly unmissable links post for June, I mentioned a report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH): “That Age Old Question | How attitudes to ageing affect our health and wellbeing“. The report describes ageing as “a natural consequence of being alive”… you’d never get the media admitting that, would you?
“We have seen just how valuable a positive and optimistic outlook on ageing can be to personal health and wellbeing, and yet many everyday conversations, informed by the media, are rife with examples of language that either trivialise, vilify, or catastrophise the ageing process. Chief among these is the persistent use of the term ‘anti-ageing’ within the cosmetics and beauty industry.
All human beings – at all stages of life – are ageing in their own way, as a natural consequence of being alive. Hence, the explicit presumption that ageing is something undesirable and to be battled at every turn is as nonsensical as it is dangerous. To be ‘anti-ageing’ makes no more sense than being ‘anti-life’.
We call on major outlets such as Boots and Superdrug, and beauty industry magazines, to follow the lead of Allure magazine and ban the use of the term ‘anti-ageing’, and to re-focus their ageing narrative on opportunities to be embraced rather than processes to be resisted.”
To call on the UK high street’s two biggest drugstores to ban the term is pretty significant. They also pointed out that Allure magazine banned the use of the term “anti-ageing” last year – something I really welcomed.
What I’ll say instead of anti-ageing
In that first post I wrote a couple of years ago as well as a more recent post about my skincare routine I mentioned that I wanted to use the term “optimum ageing” instead of anti-ageing. It does what it says on the tin: Let’s make ageing the very best it can be! We can’t fight it, it’s going to happen, so why be negative about something that’s inevitable?
So from now on I’ll be refusing to use the term anti-ageing. I am going to say “optimum ageing” instead.
In fact just this week I was contacted by a skincare brand about working with them: I replied to say that yes, I’ll happily consider collaborating, but please note that I won’t use the term anti-ageing in my blog post or in any social media. They might agree with this, they might not. But integrity is important to me, so if they want to work with me they have to play by my rules, and my rules state that AGEING RULES.
After the incredibly sad loss of one of our own midlife bloggers Kate Sutton of Wit Wit Woo – at the age of just 48 – from a sudden stroke last month, it seems to me that quoting anti-ageing as a good thing (or something to aspire to) is more offensive than ever. I met the truly wonderful Kate at a video shoot and we kept in touch online, and while I didn’t know her very well, I knew her well enough to know that she would have been one of those people who would definitely have been ANTI-anti-ageing.
Soon after her passing a hashtag was created in her honour: #BeMoreWitWitWoo. Kate believed that to hell with it – we should just drink the gin, eat the cake and wear the swimsuit. The hashtag was poignant but incredibly uplifting. Ageing should be celebrated, not fought against.
As the RSPH report says, “Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life”. Kate didn’t get that chance, so let’s focus on the positives while we age in her honour, I say.
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON THE TERM ANTI-AGEING AS USED BY THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY AND THE MEDIA? DO YOU THINK THEY WILL EVER PHASE IT OUT? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!