While many cultures celebrate the ageing process, in our western society, looking young is an obsession and growing old is never celebrated. We often associate being old with the bad – bad health, bad appearance, dependency, disability and irrelevance.
In 2015, there were 51,140 reported surgical procedures. This is up from 45,406 the year before. The cosmetic procedures industry is booming and it’s becoming more and more popular to have work done to make yourself look “younger” and more “beautiful”. In particular, there has been a surge in non-surgical treatments such as Botox to reduce wrinkles, where average patients are aged 35-55, an age where most women are starting to or feel old. People want to look good and ageing can make women feel worthless and ugly due to the representation our society and the beauty industry has portrayed.
There are thousands of products that claim they are anti-ageing, proving that the beauty world is promoting that youth and prepubescent like skin is beautiful. The outrageous pricing of some products are found to be playing on people’s insecurities about ageing. The “beauty myth” advertised by brands and products shows what women at the age of 40 and 50 should look like in an ideal world by using famous ageing celebrities. For example Jennifer Aniston who is 48 years old and doesn’t look a day over 30 due to reportedly spending ?1,353.95 A MONTH just on her face alone, virtually every public figure from politicians to actors to TV presenters have had work done to their face or body to make them self stay young and freeze time. Along with the procedures that celebrities undertake to stay beautiful, on advertisements their skin, hair, body and features are all airbrushed and photoshopped, ultimately, giving women an unauthentic and decieving version of what they should look like.
We are bombarded daily with images on TV adverts, magazines, billboards, and the internet. It’s all about the image, not about the experience and wisdom behind the faces. Why, when previously gray hair and wrinkles coincided with patience, self-awareness and wisdom? As Hannibal Lecter told Clarice in ’silence of the Lambs’, “We begin by coveting what we see every day”. Ads and social media portray youth as sexy, attractive, cool, and connected. Look at any magazine, movie, video game, or TV show and It’s easy to see. There is no greater compliment we can pay another than to say, “Wow! You look so young!”. Even in children’s films such as Tangled, the Disney film, the mother Gothel used the princess Rapunzel’s magic hair to keep her looking “young and beautiful” showing to the younger generation in society that looking old and wrinkly is ugly.