Inside any magazine targeted at 30+, or even 25+ women, are legions of advertisements and articles on how to “beat” aging and hold on to youth. Anti-wrinkle creams and skin-firming serums are an exponentially growing market, and the research to unlock the secret of age-defying skin shows no signs of slowing down.
But why are all of these anti-aging campaigns targeted almost entirely at women?
The anti-aging quest has almost become an obsession among women above 29, and the newest cream is enough to throw the mom next door into frenzy. And this phenomenon continues to be fueled almost exclusively by the female consumer.
Do men not age? Do men not wrinkle and gray? Of course not. It just seems that my dad and his friends and the rest of the men their age just don’t seem to mind.
Or do they? Maybe they just don’t let on to it. Maybe men in their 50’s really are concerned by what they see in the mirror, but they wouldn’t dare express worry over a sagging jaw line or apply an eye-firming serum, because, well, that’s what women do, not men. Perhaps we have accepted the fact that fighting age is something women do, and embracing age is something men do, and these ideas keep getting reinforced again and again until they just seem natural.
This can’t just be learned behavior. Of course, it has roots in evolution. An older man embraces his weathered skin because he looks seasoned and wise and strong. An older women fights to keep her youthful skin because she looks healthy, attractive, and fertile. So it seems that women protect their femininity by fighting age, while men protect their masculinity by embracing age. (Indeed, is there, or is there not a new men’s hair dye that actually ensures hair remains peppered with grays? I think there is.)
But at ages like 45 and 50, when a woman appearing “fertile” to a man is not quite so necessary, can we still blame ideas implanted in us from evolution for this relentless obsession with youth? At some point, we must be reinforcing these ideas on our own, and targeting them at women.
So in the end we have a double standard that is learned, cultural, evolutionarily based, or just plain biased. But I think the problem here is that we are manipulating ingrained ideals to fuel our own cultural desires for impossible female beauty at any age. I just wonder, to what extreme will we continue to scrutinize the aging woman’s face while granting laissez-faire to the aging male’s? Shouldn’t we just laugh at the the laugh lines, and celebrate the graceful signatures of age in both?