From eye creams and body-firming lotions to supplements and even clothing, advertisements love to tout the now familiar phrase “anti-aging.” Sound too good to be true? Well, it is. Nothing stops the process of aging because it’s a natural process of growth and change. Since when has growth and change been a negative thing?
The term “anti-aging” began as a medical term and includes complex ideas from genetics, molecular biology, nanotechnology, and alternative healing. While there are certainly advancements within these sciences that are changing the way humans think of and experience aging, the commercialization—and warping—of the term may be doing more harm than good.
Consider the American love-affair with youth, where teenage body frames and mindsets are consistently valued above and beyond mature bodies, lifestyles, and minds. Instead of respecting, let alone revering, men and women of middle and advanced ages, media tells us that aging is bad—something that needs the term ANTI in front of it, as though we are all in a war against our natural growth processes.
The more focused and concerned people are about aging, the more focused they are on buying products that focus on “anti-aging.” The “anti-aging” propaganda feeds the never-ending social comparison processes that devalue friendships, marriages, and self. From padded bras that inflate size to high heels that restrict walking, the less natural we think we need to be, the more we buy.
Scientific studies have also revealed that aging has a lot more to do with stress and muscles than topical creams. It also turns out that exercise, healthy eating, and meditation are by far the most proven methods for influencing physiological age and cognitive degeneration.
If we set ourselves up to be involved with an “anti-aging” war within, are we not just creating more stress—and therefore advancing the process of aging? If, on the other hand, we embrace aging as a natural, necessary, and even beautiful unfolding of experience, perhaps our stress levels will lower enough to enjoy the experience of life. I love my moisturizers, but I wouldn’t trade them for my meditation.