Why are we afraid of aging?
The conversation on aging is one that I’ve exhausted in my time as an esthetician. If you have recently had a consultation with me you may have read the following:
“I’d like to mention that I use the term aging very literally. I don’t believe in the shameful labeling of “anti-aging” and have been advocating for the removal of that oxymoron of a marketing term for a decade now. So if by any means that word is triggering for you please let me know.”
I make my point pretty clear right away that I don’t want to waste my time with someone who wants a quick fix and shame themselves into thinking they need to turn back the clock. But regardless of how much I advocate for self-acceptance and self-love, I still feel the pressures to keep up with it all. How can I expect you to move past this if I get sucked into the bullshit too?
Do you remember being younger and desperately wanting to be an adult? I couldn’t wait to have my own apartment, drive my own car, wear high heels etc., which are all the seemingly normal things to aspire to but I also wanted the physical parts of aging. I wanted to be a woman. I wanted wrinkles because to me it meant that I was going to be free of acne. I wanted smile lines because it meant that I must be living a happy life filled with laughs. However, now that I’m in the full swing of adulthood I realize that not many other people had that feeling about physical aging like I did. So many people are terrified at any premature sign of getting older that they are willing to take extreme lengths to prevent and reverse it.
But where does that fear really stem from and why are we really afraid of aging?
I have to admit that I’ve also always looked really young. I’m a smaller individual, have consistently had an oily complexion, and I’m in the skincare industry so the chances of my skin showing premature signs of aging are significantly less than the average person. However, recently when I look at myself I start to notice that my face is much different than what I remember. One side has lost a significant amount of fullness, my dark circles are much more of a permanent fixture than before, my chin has doubled in size (which I'll write about soon), my forehead is fully packed with lines of expression, and the days that I spent in the sun (or, unfortunately, a tanning bed) has now created patch of hyperpigmentation on my right cheek. All the while I still experience a breakout here and there if I’m not consistent with my supplements, nutrition, and skincare routine. So I’m at the point in life that I had looked forward to and seeing all the changes I predicted. When it starts to get to me I start thinking about what I can do about it and two solutions come to mind. The first would be that I use up all the resources available to turn back the clock and the other is I look a little deeper at what is actually going on with my whole self.
If we want to really focus on aging gracefully we have to accept the now. The now is something that some of our friends and family never get to see and most of us are completely taking advantage of. We take advantage of it by thinking that we can just erase anything with a laser and an injection. But to me, that doesn’t come close to addressing the emotional changes that come with aging and how to prepare yourself for watching yourself age. Our society doesn’t really embrace an aging woman unless she’s Christie Brinkley or Helen Mirren. Do you think that those women want to consistently be reminded that what we primarily admire about them is how well they aged? Why did they age so well? Genetics plays a part in it I’m sure, but perhaps they truly lived and honored themselves throughout each stage of life. To think that they didn’t experience hardships is simply living in denial. Perhaps anyone who looks great for their age has an appreciation for the process that is life. Time is one of the greatest gifts because we get the opportunity to fully take advantage of this experience. With each year that goes by I become more and more comfortable with myself. I grow accepting of the fact that my waistline may never fully reduce down to what it was in high school. I’m also grateful that I have grown further away from the anxiety that plagued my very existence during that same time. So if I feel more confident, perhaps I don’t want to go back to that time where I may look a little more fresh or youthful. That time for me was wasted with self-loathing and an inability to ground myself.
There are different factors to consider while I observe the skin and part of it are premature signs of aging due to unhealthy habits. This can range from mindful to unconscious acts (like negative self-talk) but regardless this gives us an opportunity to evaluate and come up with a plan so you can age appropriately. What I focus on being able to provide are some easy solutions that will help your skin stay refreshed and vibrant regardless of external factors that could be potentially sensitizing you.
Eat all the superfoods you want, drink all the collagen you want, sweat out all the toxins you need, and inject anything that feels good to you. But none of that will matter if you don’t fully live in your present-day self. You in your NOW is a person who has weathered storms, experienced love and grief, accomplished tons of admirable feats, and have made the difference in your communities lives. No one is looking at your crows feet and seeing anything other than your light. How you choose to shine that light can only come from how much love and appreciation you have for your own journey. So don’t be afraid to age. You have much more important life stuff to focus on than how your skin looks because of the year you were born. Focus on how to live fully and authentically, and who knows, you might like that person that reflects back more (wrinkles and all!).
Thanks again for reading and until next week, take care. - Hayley