Posted by a friend on Facebook. I love its snappily heartfelt response not just to ageism and sexism but, more important still, to their life negating exploitation for profit:
I was in the hallway at the airport, headed to my gate, when a man from a spa suckered me into a conversation by handing me a free bar of natural soap.
Man: Your skin is so natural looking. You aren’t wearing any make-up, right?
Me: Um, nooooo?
Man: Let me guess your age... (Proceeds to pull out an age twelve years below mine.)
Me: I look my age and that’s ok actually.
Man: Let me show you our face serum. If you aren’t careful to maintain your skin now, these wrinkles on your face will get deeper. By forty-five, creams won’t help anymore.
Me: What’s wrong with a woman looking forty?
Man: Well let’s talk about the bags under your eyes, and smile lines. My eye cream could improve those in fifteen minutes.
Me: What’s wrong with my eyes? I have a miracle baby at home and haven’t slept in two years, so if I have bags I am grateful to have them, and my husband and I laugh a lot. Those are his fault. He loves how I look… I don’t think I need your cream.
Man: (nervously) They may be manageable now but by fifty it’s too late to correct sagging skin and deep wrinkles. Unless you act now, only surgery can correct those.
Me: what’s wrong again with a woman aging? You know, my husband and I can’t wait to grow old together, we talk about it all the time, how we’ll be this funny wrinkled old couple. My husband is going to age too, we all are. It’s kind of how life works.
Man: (glancing nervously at other customers listening in) Wait, if it’s price, I can offer our special this week, all three creams for $199 – that’s cheaper than Botox!
Me: I look fine now, and when I’m forty-five will look fine, and when I’m fifty will look fine, because there is nothing wrong with a woman aging. Old age is a privilege denied to many. I don’t appreciate you marketing youth instead of your products, and denigrating aging women as a sales tactic. Thanks but I don’t need your cream.
This post has been shared upward of 12k times to date. I was really excited for a couple of minutes (my ego talking) until I realized it means that in 2016, refusing self-loathing as a beauty standard is a radical concept. And that is just depressing on a whole other level.
This isn’t about natural beauty over make-up, nor being insulted by a salesman, who I am sure is good at his job and following a script. Its about a billion dollar industry that depends on women hating themselves.
I could have been a supermodel, but still would have been told there was something wrong with my face. And odds are, I would have believed it. It’s hard-wired into us from the cradle that our main value as a woman is beauty, and a standard of beauty that we can never actually attain. Even our supermodels get photoshopped.
Let’s start a movement. Let’s end predatory marketing practices that sell self-loathing to women. Women have more important things to do in 2016 than worry about our wrinkles or the acceptability of our thighs. Let’s start a movement that says no to brands that require you to hate yourself in order to sell their products. Don’t give them another one of your dollars.
‘Even our supermodels get photoshopped.’ There’s irony on irony here. Millions of people with ‘imperfect’ bodies feel bad about how they look in comparison to celebs who don’t much resemble their polished and packaged images either! And so much money and heartache and even physical pain are invested in acquiring a body the rest of us will find unreal and sexless. (A flawless skin and gravity defying breasts may or may not be aesthetically appealing – that depends on too many variables for me to generalise even on my own subjective responses – but for me at least their possessors are never, you know, fanciable. ) More often than not on those before-and-after websites I prefer the before look, and I’m not the only one.
Finally, men – especially in the twenty to forty-five age band – are now coming under the same pressures and for the same reasons. Here’s Jon Hamm, occasionally known to pass himself off as one Donald Draper: