Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Something I've noticed of late...

Maybe I'm watching shows/listening to radio that is aimed at a different demographic than I actually am in, but it seems to me that the anti-aging bandwagon has really ramped up for men.

I mean, women have gotten it for YEARS, with the cover-the-grays hair color ads, and the various-gunk-you-put-on-your-face ads, and now the take-this-thing-that-we-can't-really-claim-does-anything-because-we'd-have-to-go-through-the-FDA-but-we're-going-to-imply-it-will-speed-weight-loss pill.

But men were largely left alone, or so it seemed. Yeah, there was "just for men" and that beard-darkening stuff....but now there seem to be LOTS of ads for stuff that claims to "recapture youth" (mainly, it seems: raise testosterone levels. And while they don't come out and say, "we'll help you get a stiffy in a jiffy," that's implied, in among all the other "it will improve your energy and mood, and make you build muscle and lose fat" claims.

And, I don't know. While I don't judge people who choose to dye their hair or stuff....I don't want to feel pressured to do it myself. I don't feel like spending the time and the energy to, and the hair I have that's going white is actually going WHITE, and one of my grandmothers had white hair later in life....and you know? It was really pretty. And I think I would look better at 65 or whatever with white hair than I would with the best dye job I could get in my small town. So I'm not going to do stuff to slow down my "apparent" aging. And I do have the luxury of being able to do that - I recognize that as a college professor, I'm unlikely to be pressured out of my job, or not get work, because I look "old." I know not everyone has that luxury to choose whether to dye or not, whether to Botox or not. I wish they did.

And it bugs me that men are getting that pressure now, that women have had for years. It seems to me it used to be "more OK" for a man to show his age - a bit of gray around the temples suggested wisdom. Frown lines could denote a certain seriousness. And guys weren't expected to be as buff and trim at 45 as they were at 20....no one had time for that kind of hours in the gym, other than the marathon runners.

I mean, on the one hand, don't get me wrong: taking care of your health is good. It's a good thing to exercise regularly, it's a good thing to eat lots of fresh food from a variety of sources. It's a good thing to avoid tobacco and other potentially harmful chemicals.

But dyeing your hair isn't going to slow down your aging. It just makes it look like it's slowed down. And I guess that's the crux of it, for me: the idea that there's this need to fool yourself and other people, not to admit that aging happens. We all age. There's not a lot we can do about that. Yes, maybe getting a healthy level of exercise and eating a good diet can slow it down a bit, or prevent chronic diseases. But at some point, we all age. And it seems wrong to me to treat aging as a horrible thing that we should fear....though some of the ads I've heard for  the "male booster" or whatever they call them products seem to suggest that, just as the weight-loss-for-women-over-40 products seem to suggest.

It bugs me that some seem to want to deny the existence of a natural part of life. I'm sure it's wrapped up with the fear of death, and the fact that, for some, "right living" has become the thing believed in as giving immortal life.....and some of the people who follow "right living" make it an obsession. I have seen people exercise at levels that are really excessive, several hours a day when they're not training for a marathon or anything....it's almost as if they are trying to "outrun death."

I don't know. Maybe because I had a fairly lousy adolescence and wasn't even all that happy in my 20s that I have no issues with leaving that period of my life behind. But we don't need a culture of adolescents! And sometimes it seems that that is what our society is pushing for.

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