Is Our Perception of Beauty Forever Tied to Youth?

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courtesy of Sue Bryce

No one wants to admit that they fear aging, but are any of us really ready to embrace our fading youth with open arms? Once those adorable laugh lines turn into wrinkles, many women and men alike find themselves taking measures to retain their youthful glow –– whether it’s a healthier diet, a $200 bottle of skin-tightening cream, or an at-home microdermabrasion kit. But why are we so reluctant to accept the signs and symptoms of age?

The media could be to blame – it’s idea of aging beauty involves botox and plastic surgery (looking at you, Bruce Jenner). Growing old has also stood as a physical sign that our bodies are weakening. Either way, aging is a distressing process that psychotherapists Dr. Vivian Diller and Dr. Jill Dr. Muir-Sukenick say can cause just as much stress as any other trauma.

Dr. Diller and Dr. Muir-Sukenick suggest that the existential crisis that comes with aging can lead to depression, sleep disorders, and even alcoholism, and that therapy won’t solve these problems. Instead, both authors encourage women to come to terms with the fact that aging is an upsetting and emotional process, and to analyze their feelings before deciding whether to “age naturally” or jump head-first into anti-aging regimens.

“Should women simply grow old naturally, since their looks don’t define them, or should they fight the signs of aging, since beauty and youth are their currency and power?” they ask in their book, Face It.

There’s a certain amount of pressure on women to dismiss the notion that age and/or beauty defines them, but at the same time –– is there anything wrong with wanting to retain your youth? The New York Times points out that celebrities who overtly use plastic surgery are judged for doing so, while actresses like Diane Keaton and Helen Mirren are celebrated for aging naturally and not letting the pressures of Hollywood get under their skin –– literally.

Dr. Diller and Dr. Muir-Sukenick hope people will embrace both options –– but most importantly, that we think and reflect on what drives our decisions about whether to go “under the knife” or go with the flow.

Source: The New York Times


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Mehera Bonner is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.