This weekend, I stayed with a friend - who, despite the mere three-month gap between our birthdays, is unquestionably a grownup. She has a mortgage, and people who answer to her. Most of all, she has anti-aging products.
I can rationalize my arrested financial status, my rental, my inability to drive. But staring at that row of expensive, alpha-hydroxy-boosting bottles, I knew I was in denial. Anti-aging products are scary and overwhelming, their labels full of vaguely-threatening pseudoscience. According to the most extreme dermatologists, we should all start using them at 18. And while generations of women seem to have gotten by perfectly well without a battery of pricey snake-oils, the fear campaign has done its work well: I feel anxious, guilty, terrified - and paralyzed with choice. Even as I know my collagen production is slowing down, my skin losing its youthful elasticity, the lines and wrinkles multiplying, I'm as frozen as I was when a 10th-grade chemistry test was set before me.
New findings suggest that, at the end of the day, we all become our mothers anyway: as in most things biological, you can't fight the DNA, and one's mother's face is, apparently, a preview of coming attractions. Says Reuters, "these findings may act as a further guideline for cosmetic rejuvenation of the eye region." Great. My own mom looks just fine. She's never used an antiaging product in her life, and for someone who was apparently never told that not sporting at least double-digit SPF every day is the worst sin in the entire world, well, she's certainly not the Dorothea Lange portrait ladymags are always insinuating. That said, she looks like what she is: an attractive woman of 60. And that isn't what we're supposed to want. We should be defying our age, not giving into it!
I gave my mom a call and asked her what she thought about all the age-defying tech out there. "Well," she said, "it's really much more defiant not to give into that, isn't it?" And she was right. Although I bought her some lotion with SPF and I think she's using it. "Health," she says, "I'll do. Vanity is very unattractive." I could have a worse blueprint.