“Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.” Mary Schmich in Wear Sunscreen
One of the benefits with my job has been free membership in a large and luxurious fitness facility. I enjoyed using the gym and spa, but gradually became bothered by another part of the building: a medical clinic that has increasingly promoted injectables. I was shocked to read an article in the gym’s monthly magazine by an employee who started using injectables in her 20’s. It was the saddest thing I read that week: a young woman thought it was a reasonable idea to spend her $ not on education or leveraging compound interest (yes, I sound judgmental) but to regularly inject a toxin into her face as a preventative measure against wrinkles.
But I ignored my issues with the medical clinic and continued to go to the spa and hair salon because it was convenient for me. When the rash happened in March, along with investigating what cosmetic companies I was supporting, I questioned my complacency in continuing to use the facility. This was an opportunity for economic activism and the Who Did I Support Budget.
Anti-aging consumer culture seems to be all about looking younger, not about improving health and longevity. I can’t see how there is anything healthy about injectables. I’m calling bullshit as a menu of injectables becomes the new normal in many spas as yet another way for companies to make $ from the insecurity of primarily female clients. Last month, after eight years, I cancelled the gym membership benefit through my employer. Before getting a haircut or spa service anywhere in the future, I’ll confirm the facility does not offer injectables or other “medical” services that I feel don’t belong there. My simpler living demands I put my $ behind what my (unenhanced) lips say.
Now I still care a lot about how I look – it’s a respect for the appearance I offer others along with a big chunk of ego attachment I don’t expect to ever be rid of in this lifetime, no matter how much of my remaining time I devote to the meditation cushion or Buddhist study. It’s good to hear when I look healthy, rested, well dressed, happy. But the actions I want to take for this body are not to look younger, but to be healthier.
Working in the tech industry where anyone over 40 is considered YE OLDE EMPLOYEE, I have deliberately never shared my age with colleagues. Ageism won’t be a concern in simpler living with no employer or job interviews, but I want to start unmuddling this for myself now. And I will try to be more noisy about not buying into the consumer culture that wants to feed off my insecurity by telling me there is something inherently wrong with me for being 50 or, worse, for looking my age.