Charles Dickens once said, ‘Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks.’ Dickens however did not have access to anti-ageing products or the Internet for that matter where these supplements and procedures are so easily accessed and exploited. It seems in this day and age; youth and beauty themselves are being regarded as a means to attaining happiness and fulfillment.
The media is persistent in its use of headlines such as, ‘Jennifer Garner looks incredibly young on the cover of Allure’. This “news bulletin” is followed up by a short paragraph stating 41 year old Garner is the ‘epitome’ of anti-aging and how on earth does she do it? Another one is ‘Look And Learn: Prince William’, apparently ‘this proud royal dad has a new reason to maintain a youthful look’. Seemingly, younger looks make for a better father.
It seems everyone and anyone is attempting to either resemble a youngster or behave as a one. Take Geraldo Rivera for instance, an attorney, journalist and American television personality who shamed himself via the internet. He used Twitter to post a Justin Bieber-esque photograph of himself semi-nude stating ’70 is the new 50′. On his website he later made an interestingly honest confession in regards to his behaviour, “At that moment, I was a like a geriatric male version of the wicked queen in Snow White who keeps asking her mirror, ‘Who is the fairest of them all?’” He also states, “That’s the trouble with Twitter. With the click of a button you can reach the world.”
In 2009 Global Industry Analyst’s predicted a surge in worldwide anti-aging products which by 2015 will reach an estimated worth of almost 300 billion US dollars. One of the latest crazes across America and now the UK is the highly controversial HGH, a growth hormone that promotes everything from wrinkle free skin to a higher libido. Now available in tablet form, more and more people are using it with the belief it will slow down the natural process of anti-ageing. Not even licensed as an anti-ageing drug, and with a long list of terrible side-effects, people are once again falling victim to the exploitation of certain products which actually have very little do with age prevention at all.
The medias constant reflection of the rich and famous having surgical and cosmetic procedures to stay looking young and beautiful are just as condoned as they condemned. Social media allows celebrities and the general public alike to ‘over share’ everything, including cosmetic surgery. Kim Kardashian, a woman in her 30’s is obsessed with taking photographs of herself, in some of which she is actually receiving aesthetic procedures.
Just as Narcissus was completely absorbed with the image on the surface, human exterior consumes a vast majority of today’s society. A worrying amount of people truly believe social networking – with its smiling faces and posed pictures – gives them something more than just a superficial insight into the lives of others. With the Internet now inundated with images of already perfect bodies or the promotion of extended youth, is it any wonder we are all feeling a little more self-conscious?
Text: Sarah Wilkinson.