Why Are We So Scared Of Ageing?

Every morning I take a collagen tablet, a hydrologic acid tablet, vitamin c and later I take a shot of
collagen after my main meal. Oh, and my daily multi vitamin. Why? I’m terrified of aging, there I said
it. Call me shallow, stupid (I have) but in a society where women are (supposedly) freer to be
themselves than ever before I’ve never felt more pressure to look young or rather never look like
I’ve aged. Crows feet terrify me and the thought of finding a wrinkle sends me into a panic attack, it
may sound like vanity but it’s not, I don’t want to look younger to be pretty, to be complimented, I
want to look young to feel worthy, to stay relevant in my professional life and feel confident in my
personal life and though it may just be in my own head the older I get the less time I have to achieve
what I want while I’m still young enough to enjoy it. At 26 it may be an early overreaction, but it
seems I’m not alone in this fear.

One in five of us admit to being stressed about aging before we even hit our mid 20’s and a study of
2,000 women by Dermstore found that young women have started using anti age products far
earlier than previous generations with the average millennial user starting at 26 as opposed to the
average over 55-year-old who started at 47.

Of course skincare knowledge is far greater now than it was for the older generation hence why we
think more about our skincare routine but with over a quarter (28%) of women under 25 admitting
that they regularly worry about signs of aging with this number increasing to 42% for those aged 25-
34 and then to 54% for those aged 35-44, there’s much more to it than simply taking care of our

Society and celebrity culture teach us we are valued by our beauty and you can only be beautiful if
you’re young so its no surprise the constant bombardment of tv adverts, magazine advertisements
and the huge online presence of ‘miracle anti age’ products clearly advertised with tween models
have us all inspecting our pores and wrinkles wondering how long we have until the Olay anti – age
won’t touch us. Of course, the manufacturers of anti-ageing products need to foster anxieties about
ageing to be able to promise to dispel them: fear maximises profits, and if there isn't enough of it
about – well, they'll just have to seed some more. So, what’s next? The same study found that 20%
of women said they’d consider getting plastic surgery to fight signs of aging. In the UK Botox is the
number one non-surgical procedure with it equating to 39% all non-surgical procedures. (strangely
these findings by Mulberry came with a side advertisement to book a consultation).

So where does this fear of aging come from? We’re happy to gain the wisdom and freedom of
getting older – we all know the calmness that comes from knowing we won’t make the same
mistakes in the future as with past loves, past friendships, past jobs etc, we take the memories but
don’t want to years added on our skin. As teenagers we long to grow older and acquire the greater
freedom and privileges that come with ageing. It used to be your 21st but now it's your 18th – the
birthday that shouts "Finally!" Somewhere in our 20s, though, anticipation turns into dread: from
looking down on those younger than us we start to look down on those older.

Perhaps we’re frightened of being side lined whether professionally or personally, we all know the
struggles of being female in a male dominated workplace never mind the possibility of being
overlooked for someone younger, maybe it’s the fear of not achieving what we think we need to by
a certain age, or maybe it’s all the fears we try not to acknowledge because its 2018 and we’re not
supposed to feel threatened and judged by our age anymore much like weight, ethnicity, orientation and gender. And though the strides forward have been amazing there are still flaws, still bullies,
there’s still stigma.

I think the perfect quote comes from The Golden Girls, Blanche (if you don’t know that show you’re
too young to worry about aging) when she said whilst considering plastic surgery “I don’t mind
getting older as long as I always look the same” that quote has stuck with me, its bittersweet,
humorous and ever so true for this generation.

So, what’s the answer here? The truth is there isn’t one. We’re always going to worry, we’re always
going to doubt ourselves as another birthday passes. In an era where the body has become a major
cultural currency, and the failure to tend it a moral transgression, the rich, multi-faceted experience
of ageing has been shamed and reduced to fear about looking old. We're living longer, healthier lives
than any previous generation but, curiously, worrying about ageing younger. This means that we are
going to be worried for an awfully long time.

The comforting news? We’re all in the same boat, ageing is inevitable, and it comes to us all. Perhaps
the only way to get though it is by living the life you want because as cliché as it sounds you really
are as young as you feel so laugh and be happy cause those wrinkles gonna come anyway! (and
that’s okay).

Written By Sophie Milano

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

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