According to an article in the Huffington Post,"Anti-aging enthusiasts contend that life spans can be prolonged through interventions such as hormone replacement therapy and dietary supplements. Critics, including much of the medical establishment, say many anti-aging interventions are ineffective or harmful."
Even without the anti-aging industry's products, we are the beneficiaries of a "longevity bonus"--with many healthy years predicted after 50. How will we use those years and how will we view the process of aging?
Anti-aging generally applies to methods for slowing, preventing or reversing the aging process. I am anti-anti-aging because I am pro aging. I completely support older adults being as healthy, vibrant and attractive as they can be, and I want that for myself, too. I just do not want to be expected to judge this stage of life by the standards or values of youth. I am not aspiring to be youthful. I am old, and I am okay about that. I do aspire to be radically alive. To me, expressions like "young at heart" are anti-aging with a sugar coating. What is the problem with being old at heart? I've already been young.
Anti-aging may be partly about preserving perceived beauty, but it is also about exerting control, and staving off fear of dying. Old has advantages, including a bigger, deeper perspective from decades of life experience. I don't like anti-aging. I like pro aging. That means embracing the beautiful opportunities and inner tasks of later life and valuing later life as a profound stage of evolution and development.
|Dr. Carol Orsborn|
In this You Tube video, author Dr. Carol Orsborn talks about ageism, noting that growing older is either romanticized or reviled in popular culture, but never shown as it really is. She says to the boomer generation, "Yes we've done a lot about sexism and racism but why haven't we done anything about ageism?"
(Since this is one of the questions I've been asking through Sage's Play, I recognized Dr. Orsborn as a kindred spirit from the start.)
Dr. Orsborn suggests that the reason that boomers haven't addressed ageism is that they have internalized the message that young is good and old is bad. Older adults don't want to be associated with being old. They want to pass for young.
Take a few minutes to watch her talk. It's worthwhile.
I follow Dr. Orsborn's reflections on aging at her digest Fierce with Age. where I am happy to be among the contributors.
Another writer I follow is Barbara Hannah Grufferman, a very pretty, fit New Yorker who writes for the Huffington Post and AARP. Check out Barbara Hannah Grufferman's article on embracing aging written for the AARP blog. In it, she writes,
"Isn’t it time to change how we view aging? Have we created a society of “haves” and “have nots” based not so much on how much is in our bank accounts, but on how much we spend on trying to look younger? Have we completely removed any opportunity for a level playing field? Have we fooled ourselves to the point where we actually believe we are younger just by erasing crow’s feet with Botox? And do we think we fool others?"
|Barbara Hannah Grufferman|
I don't know if we are trying to fool ourselves or others with anti-aging strategies, or whether we are simply trying to stay above water, to remain visible and engaged in the pressured confines of our ageist society. There are lots of ways to remain engaged and visible. You can even do it with silver hair.
I am very glad to see a grassroots pro aging movement growing. Ageism is unhealthy for all of us. It's time for each one of us to develop effective strategies to counter it.
I don't want to fight aging. The mere idea tires me out. I want to enjoy this time of life in ways that feel fulfilling. We will age; it's just a question of how we will do it. As Grufferman points out in her article, it's possible to embrace your age AND to place your attention on being fit, healthy and attractive. They are not mutually exclusive. Putting all of one's attention on trying to pass for young could even mean that one is so busy with outer appearances, one doesn't take the time to engage in some of the meaningful inner work of later life. This is a sure-fire recipe for avoiding wisdom. I myself would rather place my attention on becoming at least somewhat wiser as I age. What about you? What is your vision of aging?