How Low Will We Go? Anti-aging Products for Young Women
Anti-aging products now target women in their 20s.
Posted Mar 03, 2020
“It’s never too early to start following a consistent anti-aging skin care routine that includes moisturizers, serums, face masks, and more. Here, our best anti-aging skin care product recommendations for women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.”
“Protect and boost skin's natural defenses and help keep it looking younger for longer with ... Perfect for young skin… It's never too early to start looking after your skin."
These are quotes from the advertising campaigns of two different popular skincare product lines.
Anti-aging creams for young women? How low will we go?
Billions of dollars are spent on advertisements. Clearly the advertisements are effective because billions are spent on the products as well as cosmetic procedures to address signs of aging.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that women had 6,984,566 Botox (Botulinum toxin type A) cosmetic procedures in 2018. That is a 908% increase from 2000.
It is not surprising, then, that studies show that even young women report aging anxiety (concerns with looking and growing old) and that greater aging anxiety is related to greater endorsement of ageist stereotypes and considering cosmetic procedures that reduce signs of aging. Studies also show a link between greater exposure to appearance-related media (television) and greater aging anxiety and consideration of cosmetic procedures such as a 2010 study by Slevec and Tiggemann.
There is a double standard of ageism such that women face ageism at an earlier age than men do and are judged more harshly for graying hair as well as wrinkles and sagging. Yet, men are not unscathed by a society that values youth and associates aging with inevitable cognitive and physical decline. That same 2018 American Society of Plastic Surgeons survey reported that men had 452,812 botox procedures or 6% of the total botox procedures that year. That is still a 381% increase from 2000.
It’s not just the billions of dollars spent on creams and treatments, ageism has serious psychological and physical costs.
Being bombarded with pervasive negative stereotypes of older adults as boring, burdensome, child-like, cranky, forgetful, greedy, helpless, incompetent, lonely, sad, sickly, and unattractive takes a cumulative toll on individuals. According to Becca Levy’s self-embodiment theory, individuals may internalize these stereotypes in ways that create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The stereotypes sink in and individuals end up leading more sedentary lifestyles, have decreased cognitive functioning, and suffer declines in overall health. A ground-breaking study by Becca Levy and colleagues in 2002 found that adults aged 50 and older who reported having more negative self-perceptions of aging on average lived 7.5 years less than their peers with better outlooks.
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Levy, S.R. (2016). Toward reducing ageism: PEACE (Positive Education about Aging and Contact Experiences) Model. The Gerontologist. 10 AUG 2016, doi: 10.1093/geront/gnw116
Levy, S. R. & Apriceno, M. (2019). Ageing: The Role of Ageism. OBM Geriatrics, 3(4),19. doi:10.21926/obm.geriatr.1904083
Levy, S.R., & Macdonald, J.L. (2016). Progress on Understanding Ageism. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 5-25. doi: 10.1111/josi.12153
Brunton, R. J., & Scott, G. (2015). Do we fear ageing? A multidimensional approach to ageing anxiety. Educational Gerontology, 41(11), 786–799. doi:10.1080/03601277.2015.1050870
Chonody, J. M., & Teater, B. (2016). Why do I dread looking old?: A test of social identity theory, terror management theory, and the double standard of aging. Journal of Women & Aging, 28(2), 112–126. doi:10.1080/08952841.2014.950533
Slevec, J., & Tiggemann, M. (2010). Attitudes toward cosmetic surgery in middle-aged women: Body image, aging anxiety, and the media. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34(1), 65–74. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2009.01542.x
Levy, B.R. (2009). Stereotype embodiment: A psychosocial approach to aging. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 332-336. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01662.x
Levy, BR, Slade MD, Kunkel, SR, Kasl, SV (2002). Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. J of Personality and Social Psychol, 832: 261-270. doi:10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1241