I’m just going to come right out and say it: anti-ageing ads are bullshit. Did no one let those advertising execs know that this isn’t the ‘50s? You’d be forgiven for thinking not.
Earlier this week, I tuned in for my weekly fix of my favourite series. The ads were playing, and an actress was promoting a brand of anti-wrinkle cream. Her opening line was for us ‘ladies’ to ‘listen up!’, as she described the new ‘secret’ in beauty.
There was nothing unusual about the advert; in fact it was archetypal in its predictability, the same format that has been running since I can remember, with the same underlying, culturally-ingrained misogyny that the beauty industry thrives upon. Spoiler alert, the main takeaway was that youth is beautiful, hence women who show their age are not. And clearly, if you’re not beautiful, you’re not important. Did I get that right?
But when and how did ageing become a women’s issue? At my last check, the ageing process is indiscriminate to sex, so how did it become a battle that solely women are not only expected to fight but also win? Who decided that a woman’s age was intrinsically linked to her worth?
By no means is this a new concern. On the contrary, anti-ageing products have been around for decades and the industry as a whole has weathered high profile scrutiny throughout its history. In 2009, Olay was reprimanded for photoshopping one of its models and Nivea’s advert was outright banned in 2013 for misleading consumers as to the benefits of its anti-wrinkle creams. In spite of this, the industry is booming, expected to be worth a mind-boggling $345.8 billion by 2018. But the issue runs much deeper than consumerism. It’s time we as a society retired our youth-obsession and start championing age for what it is; knowledge, wisdom, expertise and so much more.
A woman’s value doesn’t expire after the age of 35 and our media has a responsibility to reflect that.