This issue is the long-awaited, utterly necessary celebration of growing into your own skin — wrinkles and all. No one is suggesting giving up retinol. But changing the way we think about aging starts with changing the way we talk about aging.
With that in mind, and starting with this issue, we are making a resolution to stop using the term “anti-aging.” Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that aging is a condition we need to battle — think antianxiety meds, antivirus software, or antifungal spray.
If there’s one inevitability in life, it’s that we’re getting older. Every minute. Every second. We produced a video recently that featured 64-year-old gray-haired Jo Johnson, who made the poignant observation that aging should be appreciated because “some of us don’t get an opportunity to age.” Repeat after me: Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life.
Language matters. When talking about a woman over, say, 40, people tend to add qualifiers: “She looks great…for her age” or “She’s beautiful…for an older woman.” Catch yourself next time and consider what would happen if you just said, “She looks great.” Yes, Americans put youth on a pedestal. But let’s agree that appreciating the dewy rosiness of youth doesn’t mean we become suddenly hideous as years go by.
I’m not going to lie and say that everything about aging is great. We’re not the same at 18 as we are at 80. But we need to stop looking at our life as a hill that we start rolling uncontrollably down past 35. (And if it were, who determines the pinnacle? Is it our sexual prime? Is it the point at which most other people would consider us hot? Or is it utterly in our own heads?)
I hope we can all get to a point where we recognize that beauty is not something just for the young. Look at our cover star Helen Mirren, who’s embodied sexiness for nearly four decades in Hollywood without desperately trying to deny her age. I came across this quote from actress Samantha Bond that nails why we need more role models like Mirren: “Helen doesn’t appear to be frightened of aging and taking her sexuality with her. And it kind of gives her female audience the right to say, ‘Well, I can do that.’” And we can do that, too.
Major props to those who have already taken steps, and, to the rest of the beauty industry, we’re calling on you now: We know it’s not easy to change packaging and marketing overnight. But together we can start to change the conversation and celebrate the beauty in all ages.