Having just turned 60 I have now entered DEFCON 2 in the war against aging.
That is, if we are to believe the media who have been waging their own war against women and aging for years.
After decades of daily reconnaissance scrutinizing my face and body for any and all flaws, I am now on high alert as a full on assault on wrinkles, creases, puckers, furrows, and lines escalates.
My defense budget has skyrocketed, as I boost my already bloated arsenal of creams, lotions, serums, and potions.
I have been waging war against any visible signs of aging for over 30 years, and like the war on poverty and the war on drugs it is ultimately a losing battle.
Thinking the Unthinkable
The threat of wrinkles, creases, folds, and furrows seems to illicit the same level of panic and fear as nuclear war once did. And like a nuclear attack, according to the conventional wisdom, if you prepared… you could survive.
Having caught a cold war chill as a child in the 60’s I learned to live with the constant threat of Nuclear war; the fear of an inevitable, imminent attack would chase me through my childhood.
Living in a state of constant preparedness, building a protective bunker to shield you from harm was the only way to survive a nuclear attack we were warned, and these lessons would serve me well in my war against aging.
I learned early on that all around me there were aggressors ready to attack, conspiring to wreak havoc on your skin and you needed to prepare for this unrelenting battle.
Basic Training DEFCON5
Basic training for this long fight against any facial flaws began early for most girls. Life long survival skills like vigilant scouting for imperfections were honed early in our teens.
The objective: winning the admiration and approval of others. Honestly.
Boot Camp- Teenagers Attention!
From the time of puberty, a national policy of deterrence against small skin flaws began. Teenage girls immediately enlisted in the Clear Complexion Corps. Occasional skirmishes were easily controlled with conventional weapons like Noxema and Bonnie Bell .
Anti acne activists were deployed ; Battling blemishes could easily be obliterated with a dash of Clearasil.
As a teen in the early 1970s, aging seemed far off in the future.
It was a subject relegated to the back pages of the women’s magazines where ads for hormone creams that promised to make m’ menopausal lady look younger, years younger, shared space with stop-gap measures like Hollywood Wings, those adhesive strips that aging movie stars swore by to keep their skin taut.
The biggest worry after dry skin were “the heartbreak of psoriasis,” and the appearance of those horrid brown age spots that “told the world you’re getting old.” (Fade them away with Esoterica)
For the time being, it was limited war fare.
Deploying the usual ammunition of drug store products I diligently followed directives to stay attractive. Neutrogena soap and a splash of Jean Nate were all it took to keep me Cover Girl Fresh. Love Cosmetics “created for every young woman between 20 and thirty were sexy dramatic but free as a bra-less body and a new washed face.”
As ordered, I volumized my hair while I fattened my lashes but always made sure to never, ever be anything but slender.
By the end of the decade, conventional weapons like Lubiderm were no longer sufficient to ward off the inevitable. The obliteration of oily skin was a cakewalk compared to defeating marionette lines.
Wrinkles, we quickly learned were sneaky plotters. One day disguised as innocent laugh lines, they would morph overnight into deep creases ominously called nasolabial folds.
It was nothing to laugh at.
If measures weren’t taken long before the first warning – the appearance of your AARP membership card – it was already too late. Preparedness was crucial.
You Can Survive- DEFCON4
By the time Ronald Reagan took office urgency was felt across the nation.
As crows feet crept across the face of baby boomer women from coast to coast, warlike rattles could be heard as the youthquake generation woke up to the fact that they ought to be doing something to protect themselves.
All the Fear That’s Fit to Print
The number of magazine articles and ads warning of the ravages of aging accelerated. An onslaught of youth ensuring products appeared promising to stave off the enemy.
To believe the media nothing it seemed, could match the fear of visible signs of aging.
Now the appearance of wrinkles was something to be feared akin to a nuclear attack. A national doctrine of media strategy MAD ( Media Assured Deceit) was instituted.
A battle cry went out and it was call to arms.
We must prepare for all eventualities…of aging.
Aging – Just Say No
It was during the Reagan years that my defense policy was firmly formed: When it came to wrinkles it was “just say No!”
As the cold war took on a new chill under Ronald Reagan and our defense system became more high-tech so my own defenses accelerated becoming more high-tech too.
A New Urgency
By 1983 it was all out war.
As I turned my Sony Trinitron on one March evening a few days before my 28th birthday, I found my regularly scheduled programs preempted. Instead of my weekly dose of Dynasty I got “The Facts of Life”- served up straight from our President.
In a televised speech from the oval office, a somber Reagan warned of the increasing threat of a Soviet Nuclear attack urging the development of new technology to intercept enemy missiles, a program dubbed “Star Wars” by the media.
It was time for a major modernization of our defense system.
When 30 Really Was Something
With the tension of turning 30 looming in the very near future, I decided it was time to develop my own Strategic Defense Initiative response to aging.
If left unchecked, frowns and creases would soon be goose-stepping across the planes of my face unstoppable, ravishing my face as quickly as the Soviets ravaged Eastern Europe.
Mere emollients were not sufficient for these clever perpetrators. Now an array of forces was necessary to deter the inevitable attack. It would be a new world of defense weapons.
The Victory of Science over Time
The scientific, advanced anti-aging delivery systems developed by the cosmetic companies deploying “micro-carriers” of collagen, liposomes and patented peptides were as sophisticated and complicated as the anti ballistic missile system Reagan wanted put in place.
And the claims were just as far-fetched as some of the “Star War” notions.
Operating with the precision of a guided missiles these bio-genetic, micro cellular moisturizing systems targeted layers of skin unheard of 5 years ago. Our skin was put behind “protective barriers” and invisible shields” in order to deflect “external aggressors.”
As time went on my build up of anti aging products became as inflated as our cold war arsenal and just as ineffective and costly.
Back to the Future
With each passing year each new anti aging system came into question. Only the latest technology would bring you to your future better self.
Because protection took effort, money and time, I worried.
Were my defense system woefully out of date, was my defense budget adequate ? No wonder worry lines began to appear.
Beat the Clock-DEFCON3
By age 55 the Doomsday Clock was ticking.
Forget the fact that the actual doomsday clock was now 2 minutes closer to midnight, thanks to climate change and unchecked nuclear proliferation.
More urgently, the specter of crepey skin, droopy lips, puffy eyes all posed an immediate threat to national security.
Facial lines heretofore unheard – Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids, Permanent Elastic creases, oral commisures and gravitational folds, menaced.
Watching the Clock
Promising to be clock stoppers, there was an expanding arsenal of skin renovation systems, including fillers that like Spackle promised to freshen up This Old House. Now if you were derelict in you moisturizer duties there were other methods to combat aging.
Was biological warfare the next step?
Before I reach for the botox… here’s the wrinkle in our youth obsessed culture: All adult women whether they like it or not are aging women.
Battle fatigued, I soldier on.
Copyright (©) 2015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
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