Anti: against or preventing
Anti. There are many things I am against. Anti-discrimination. Anti-drug. Anti-oppression. Anti-poverty and sickness. And there are many I am Pro. I am pro-antiperspirant and I am pro-antibiotics and then there are many things I am just pro... pro-biotics (especially yogurt), pro-choice, pro-tein.
Why then are we obsessed in this culture by Anti-Aging? This very website, this morning, has something promoting it.
I am all for being against things. My favorite Steinbeck quote from East of Eden is:
And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on the preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.
I am appalled that the term we use to talk about aging is "anti." Aging is as natural as a baby's softness and scent. Aging is human evolution in its pure form. Death, taxes and aging.
Genetics are the key to aging. I now resemble both my grandmothers, where when I was younger I didn't see them at all, and if I am now looking at myself with the eye of one who can look back at photos and movies and commercials and miss the good old days, that would be a wasted life. We are ALL going to age and soften and mellow and transition. All of us, if we are lucky enough to make it through this hard life into older adulthood.
This life, my only one, is not to be squandered by listening fakirs who are touting the newest and most scientific ways to stop or slow the aging process. I am not talking about being mindful and changing habits that are not healthy. Smoking, overeating, too much sun, not enough sleep or water, but the actual process of aging is inherent in our humanness and despite the billions of dollars that are spent from every end of the ideological and financial spectrum, ethnicity, environment, climate... it all ends up the same.
We are in the chain of our ancestors, like it or not. These are truths to be celebrated and in other countries they are. The term older and wiser is actually in play everywhere but here.
In America, we celebrate youth and all youth's indiscretions and follies. We cling to the shiny new thing, we stare at altered photographs and wonder why we don't measure up. If you stripped away all the airbrushing and injectables and stylists and talented make-up and hair teams and the thousands and thousands of dollars spent on any one image, and you look at them in the mirror -- the deep dark truthful mirror -- you might just see yourself.
The drumbeat is getting louder as their hearing is getting weaker. Campaigns like Dove and Eileen Fisher are speaking to this.
Join the beat. Try to discourage your loved ones from falling prey to this system of dissatisfaction. Men, honor your women and girls. Tell them that they are beautiful and show them that you mean it. Pattern your behavior so that young men can learn about what are and are not appropriate ways to talk about women. There are plenty of things to be anti about as a family. Let's try to stop aging as being one of them.
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