By Sabine Eghoetz
I’m not sure exactly when aging gracefully went out of fashion, but it certainly isn’t a slogan that could win you much popularity these days. It almost appears like sliding past the 40 mark is a crime you better cover up, and while wrinkles may still be considered a sign of wisdom and power in some tribal cultures, they definitely aren’t in ours.
Personally, I haven’t even reached “middle aged” status yet, but I never leave my house without sunglasses on. No, it is not because I’m some kind of celebrity and people always bother me about autographs. I have this ugly, vertical crease between my brows, also called frown line, which has been becoming deeper recently. That’s why I try hard to avoid any brightness to my eyes that may cause me to frown. What is really worrisome, though, I noticed that it also appears on my face whenever I think hard about something, which means, I may have to stop brain activity altogether or put a mirror right on top of my laptop screen that always reminds me to straighten out my forehead.
Of course there are plenty of other solutions available for my problem. Existing methods go from anti-wrinkle creams and injectible fillers to plastic surgery. I have been choosing face creams with any sort of “anti-wrinkle” promises on the package since I reached the age of 25, but I have not yet resorted to more invasive, and therefore more expensive ways to slow down the course of time. It is not only the cost that stops me: although professional “anti-aging experts” claim to have found ways to achieve completely natural results, from time to time I still see people out there with scary expressionless faces (from too many face lifts) and I certainly don’t want to end up with one of those.
You would think that the Canadian population with its great respect for all things natural, its love for camping, fishing and the simple things in life, would pay less attention to such superficial matters as a few crows feet around the eyes or some sagging skin under the chin. On the contrary, in 2003, the last year statistics were drawn on the subject, there were already 184,000 Botox and collagen procedures performed at a cost of $92 million, and about 17,628 non-surgical face lifts performed at a cost of $70.5 million. Most likely, these numbers have increased dramatically by now and show that people are as concerned about keeping their youthful appearance here as anywhere else.
Unless you came to Canada straight from one of those few remaining cultures where the eldest are actually granted the most respect, you’ll probably agree that the anti-aging trend is not one that is on the rise only in the Western world. Aesthetic surgery is popular in the former communist countries just as much as in South America. Even in the Middle East and in places where women usually cover their face in public, Botox treatments are found in most spas.
Here in North America, age has somehow become equal to failure. It is not only in Hollywood that men and women are getting their forehead “smoothed out” in order to secure a job, or choose a “bow lift” or “cheek augmentation” because they fear otherwise they’d never find romantic love at their age.
Why on earth do even I consider some kind of artificial rejuvenation when I already have a job and a husband, I wonder. Is it because every additional line that appears on my face reminds me of my mortality, which clearly isn’t the most cheery thought? When I look at some old photos, I think I look better today than ten years ago: somewhat more mature and apparently way more capable of applying the right amount of make-up to my face. So do I really need to have synthetic poison injected into parts of my face? During my research for a previous story about anti-aging methods, I asked a plastic surgeon what he would suggest in my case. His answer was to fill my nasal labial fold with some hyaluronic acid. To be perfectly honest, I can do without someone messing with parts of me that I have a difficult time locating, especially when he wants to use some kind of chemical I have an equally hard time spelling. Mind you, I did look both words up in the dictionary! Had I taken up his advice, I could have gotten rid of the line that runs from each side of my nose down to the corners of my mouth. He would have used a substance that is not only used in cosmetics but also known to help with the treatment of articular disorders in horses. After roughly six months, I would have looked the same as before, so the only long term effect would have been noticeable in my bank account. I’m sure you can understand why I declined the offer.
Admittedly, the whole incident occurred several years back when I was still in my twenties and the first real signs of aging seemed so far ahead. I’m getting a lot more desperate now when I see this darn frown line becoming more visible every day. And here is probably the secret to why many successful, good looking women resort to nerve poisons or even scalpel: some wrinkles don’t just make us a little older, they also cause us to look more bitter, sad or angry.
They are different from those appealing laugh lines that indicate we simply have a lot to be happy about. When they appear, there is visible proof in our faces that we worry and stress too much, that we aren’t all that easy going and constantly cheery. Maybe one day I’ll be able to accept that not only the ups, but also the downs of my life have left evidence on my skin.
Surely then I’ll be able to age gracefully – I’m just not there yet.