Features | Seniors: Searching for the fountain of youth

For centuries, our society has looked for ways to preserve youth – from Cleopatra bathing in the milk of asses, to women covering themselves in astronomically expensive skin creams today. It would seem that we’ve always searched for a way to stop the aging process, or at least to slow it down.

More recently, however, there has been a turn to more drastic measures for maintaining beauty and looking young: plastic surgery.

Over the past decade, plastic surgery in the U.S. has risen approximately 500 per cent, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. There seems to be no end to what women and men will endure to maintain youthful good looks. There’s Botox, facelifts, tummy tucks, pec implants, breast implants, liposuction, and the list goes on – apparently, no part of our bodies is free from the need for improvement.

As the immortal Holly Golightly says in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “I think it would be tacky to wear diamonds before I’m 40.” And just as it is tacky for a 20-year-old to wear real diamonds, it’s tacky and even disturbing for a 50-year-old to have the body of someone 30 years younger.

I have always admired the beauty that comes with aging gracefully – most eloquently demonstrated by Helen Mirren, who can still wear a bikini at age 63. I think that wrinkles and laugh lines are the reflection of a life lived to the fullest, but our society has made it difficult for people to accept age and all that comes with it. It seems that every day there are more and more products becoming available to postpone the natural aging process.

Past societies have always admired beauty, but they have also always revered their elders. With the number of senior citizens in the world constantly increasing – it’s expected to hit two-billion by 2050 – why does our society reject the appreciation of lived-in wisdom, replacing it with an obsession with youth?

As a 19-year-old, it’s tough for me to comment on what my sentiments on looking young will be in 20 years, but I hope that I will be able to accept my body as nature intended it, wrinkled, lined, and worn. Our bodies are not computers to be traded in for the latest creation every few years; they are organic beings that reflect the trials and tribulations of living.

To erase the wrinkles and lines from a face erases the history and wisdom that go along with them.


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