It started with itchy feet and hands. Then hives appeared on my arms and near my hairline.
What could it be? Usually when I eat something I’m allergic to, the symptoms start on my stomach and work outward. This must have been something I touched. Did the dogs get into something new?
And then I remembered: the store was out of my usual brand of body wash so I decided to try something new, something labeled, “Age-Defying.” Well, who wouldn’t want to defy age?
And so I bought it, slathered it all over in the shower, and…itchy.
I got to thinking about how the body wash hadn’t done what I wanted it to do, but then I started thinking bigger. I mean, really? Defy age? What does that even mean?
We all want to at least look younger. That’s why makeup companies tell us that using their products will make us look “rested” and “glowing,” all euphemisms for youth. Apparently the key is to be plump of lip but not of hip. Once you’re past legal drinking age, having someone tell you that you look younger than your years is the ultimate compliment. And we all want to turn back the clock on our ticking mortality. That’s why we’re all so proud when we test younger than our chronology on those “real age” Internet tests.
Much has been made lately of the messages we send our young women and the unrealistic images they are expected to idealize. Just as brutal are the endlessly chipper women who urge women to choose not to age. “I’m a victim of a slowing metabolism? I don’t think so,” says one smug woman in an ad.
It used to be that older women were depicted as dried up and irrelevant (“I’ve fallen and can’t get up!”). I don’t want to go back to that. But, really, can I get away from ads that make me feel inadequate if I don’t bound out of bed with the energy of my teen self? Where are the women who admit that while, sometimes they can change history, sometimes they just want a nap.
I don’t want to defy age. I just want to broker a better deal.