Society’s Quest for the Fountain of Youth
In this age of beauty and youth obsessed society, it seems that magazines have found a great marketing tool advertising products that promise to transform average middle-aged women into beautiful super-models with flawless skin. With focus on the female reader, these magazines seem to suggest that a woman with any intelligence will steadfastly seek out these products in an attempt to restore their lost youth. Promoting an endless variety of beauty products, magazines have given their readers the impracticable task of trying to determine which products can make them younger, sexier, and more beautiful. After carefully reading five major women’s magazines, I found no fewer than 40 articles and advertisements documenting age-proof remedies clearly indicating that women today are expected to age slowly and gracefully and fight constantly to maintain their youthful appearance.
There seems to be a huge market for anti-aging facial creams and serums, age-defying foundations, chemical peels, micro-dermabrasion, and Botox injections. Interestingly, it seems that many of the competitors will use any marketing technique available to make their product sound completely scientific and foolproof. Some of the ingredients boasted of by these companies are so complex sounding they are almost laughable and include names like Amino Peptide Complex, Marixl, Inhibit-Dermafill, Restylane, Retinal, Cell vectors, and BoHylurox. Other competitors use a less scientific approach and are able to brag of more down to earth ingredients such as vitamins, virgin olive oil, algae, green tea extracts, caffeine, soy, and even chocolate.
Making such promises as “ younger looking skin in just ten minutes,” it is questionable whether these ads give middle-aged women hope for the future or simply make them yearn for the impossible. It is obvious that it has become politically incorrect for women to show their age while men are able to age naturally without needing any assistance from the multitude of beauty aids available. What are these magazines telling today’s women? By buying into this hypocrisy, what are we teaching our daughters? Will they grow up feeling inadequate and ugly in their own skin, constantly searching for a way to improve or even hide their own natural beauty? This issue seems to be ridiculously one sided with the sexes.
Having both a son and a daughter, I dread the unfairness of the years ahead that my daughter faces which my son will never have to encounter. Even at the age of 7, my daughter watches me apply makeup with a wondrous look, obviously anticipating the moment when she too will have the privilege of applying these seemingly magical products. While I was a full-fledged tomboy as a child and spent my youth playing football and building forts, my daughter spends hours in her room painting her fingernails and playing dress-up. My morning routine consisted of simply brushing through my hair and pulling it into a ponytail. I certainly don’t remember ever worrying at seven years of age about what designer label my jeans bore and I’m sure the names Limited Too, Tommy Hilfiger, and Abercrombie would have sounded completely foreign to me. Is this simply a matter of changing times, or has society become irrevocably focused on a person’s outer beauty rather than on what makes a person beautiful on the inside?
It is a fact of life that most women spend considerable time every morning applying makeup and hair products while men can simply comb through their hair and throw on their clothes. Although men are notorious for getting ready in a matter of minutes and then complaining about the time spent waiting on their wives and girlfriends to prepare for a date, it is doubtful that they would be willing for them to forego their beauty regime. As unfair as this double standard seems, I must admit that I would never dream of arriving at an event looking as if I had just crawled out of bed.
Magazines overflowing with pictures of beautiful models offer tips guaranteed to make any woman look gorgeous; consequently it is not surprising that so many women buy into this fashion makeover. If the reader is lucky, she may be able to discern the tiny print in some of these ads stating the obvious fact that the reader should not expect the same look as the professional model. Chances are, however, that this still will not sway the average female from trying the product.
Magazine covers are filled with such inane titles as “Totally Change Your Look! Models’ Skin Care Secrets and Their Emergency Rx,” “The Cool New Laser for Your Skin Plus 8 More Beauty Breakthroughs,” and “500 Men Reveal: The Sex Appeal of Women with Real Bodies.” Gone are the women of years past reminiscent of Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith Show. Now women are expected to look beautiful enough to compete with the surprisingly mature teenagers today, take care of hearth and home, while also maintaining a busy career. Has it become a woman’s sole purpose in life to be an ethereal, wrinkle-free, gorgeous trophy for men to look at and lay claim to? I think not. However, as long as magazines continue to promote these products with such robust energy and as long as our female society continues to feed on it, I fear that it is only going to get worse for the younger generation of females.