A little more than a year ago, we banned the term “anti-aging” from Allure’s vernacular. It got people talking.
A lot. All around the world.
It spawned many a think piece on aging and language and the language of aging. Within minutes of the story going live, brands, individuals, and organizations reached out to say they wanted to join us in the movement.
Some, like AARP, acted fast and issued statements of solidarity. A few skin-care companies cheered us on in private calls but admitted they weren’t quite ready to change their own messaging.
Our statement sparked provocative discussions about sexism in aging — and how so much of it hearkens back to, and contributes to, an imbalance in power. In an essay in The New York Times, Ashton Applewhite put it eloquently: “When women compete to ‘stay young,’ we collude in our own disempowerment.
When we rank other women by age, we reinforce ageism, sexism, lookism and patriarchy.”
Today, there is a palpable movement toward people recognizing the beauty of aging.
I feel it — do you? In September 2017, CoverGirl made Maye Musk, now 70, one of its new faces.
A month later, I watched our 2017 End of Anti-aging cover star, Helen Mirren, walk the runway at a L’Oréal Paris fashion show at age 72, followed by 79-year-old Jane Fonda.
Also that month, Italian Vogue dedicated an issue to women over 60, choosing 73-year-old Lauren Hutton for the cover.
This June, a report published by the Royal Society for Public Health called for the British beauty and cosmetics industry to join us in banning “anti-aging.” The organization’s chief executive stated that ageism has “a major impact on the public’s health.
” And there’s also been a small but mighty rise in stars, such as Katie Holmes, letting their grays show.
There have been naysayers.
A few writers argued that it’s all semantics, especially coming from a beauty brand that accepts advertising and writes about products that promise to smooth wrinkles or plump sagging skin. But I think that’s missing the point.
Our point has always been about removing the shame. It’s about reclaiming our own agency versus feeling forced to take actions because we’ve been made to feel “less than” by society.
You do you. That may mean going au naturel for life, or that may be a 10-step daily skin-care routine with Botox and fillers every three months, weekly cryo facials, and a neck lift at 70.
This is not about nine letters that form four syllables — it’s about the motivation behind them. The wellness and body-acceptance movements have similarly chipped away at the thinking behind dieting.
For decades, women’s media told readers how to “lose 10 pounds in two weeks” with the sole purpose of thinness. But shifting our focus to wellness realigns our goals with living longer, having more energy, being happier, feeling stronger — not just having a thigh gap.
Will eating well and being active also help you get the body you want? Maybe. But the road there is paved by you, not the desperation to live up to someone else’s standards.
The process of age acceptance is ongoing. Attitudes don’t transform overnight.
To quote feminist superhero Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” She certainly has a way with words.
A version of this article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Allure. To get your copy, head to newsstands or subscribe now.
For more on anti-aging:
Stop Asking Angela Bassett Why She Looks “So Young” for Her AgeAllure Magazine Will No Longer Use the Term “Anti-Aging“7 Things You Have to Look Forward to When You Get Older
Why We All Need to Stop Using the Term “Anti-Aging“