Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Makeover Show Exploits Fear of Aging

Considering how I make my living, I am shocked that I got totally fascinated watching “Extreme Makeover!”
After all, transformations are what I do everyday. I have spent more than 25 years standing 8 or more hours a day in front of a mirror. Not to look at myself (although I do occasionally take a peek), but to help my clients find their absolute best “look” while they are being seen by millions of viewers. As a television stylist my job is to make people look capable, smart, trustworthy and healthy, and sometimes thinner, younger and more attractive.

Lets face it, (no pun intended) no matter how you feel about taking extreme measures to improve your appearance, it is painfully clear that some people got a set of genes that make it diffficult for them to feel comfortable with their appearance in this society which is obsessed with youth, slenderness and beauty.

Being in the beauty industry is sometimes difficult for me. I have a strong sense of what defines a persons value and this has little to do with appearance, yet ironically, I am sure my “life’s purpose” is to help people find joy in what they see every day when they look in the mirror. I have learned, however, that if you aren’t happy with who you are on the inside, you will never like who you see staring back at you in the mirror. (Hence the multiple rounds of plastic surgery some people go through never finding the satisfaction they seek.)

Since our society has bought into the notion that only youthful women are highly prized, women are flocking in droves to maintain a youthful appearance at all costs.
Where are the voices of reason? Where is the voice of moderation? Where is the message to our culture that what kind of person your are and what your values are is what determines your value to society?

No one wants to speak out against the status quo lest they be shunned by Madison Avenue, which has turned preying on the hopes and fears of women over 40 into an art. No one wants to speak up against this insanity because everyone wants to cash in on all the aging boomers who are desperate to stay young at any cost.
We all know there is no fountain of youth: yet otherwise intelligent women will buy the most expensive face creams they can afford…just in case it may do something to minimize the effects of aging. Crazy as it seems, they are not buying results. Billions of dollars are spent every year to purchase hope. One would think that most important issue to women must be “to be desired.” Why else do we want so desperately to erase all signs of the aging and hold on to youth? Is “old” synonymous with “worthless?”
What has caused this disdain of growing older? Whatever happened to growing older with dignity and grace? I firmly believe that how a person looks has the power to make or break careers, goals and dreams. But, I also believe it's time for us all to challenge the assumption that old equals unattractive and beauty requires youth.