I have just spent a very frustrating morning in the creams and lotions aisle. All I want is a moisturizer for my face – a moisturizer made for sensitive skin so that in trying to keep the skin on my face, rather than flaking off onto the floor, I don’t also end up covered in spots, looking like an adolescent who just binged on chocolate and potato chips. (I have thankfully reached the stage of life when I should be able to binge on chocolate and potato chips without leaving any evidence, at least on my skin.)
One would think that given the length of the aisle and the number of shelves and the variety of boxes and jars I would have no trouble finding something. I would be wrong.
It appears that what every woman wants is what she has always wanted: a fountain of youth. Currently, the manufacturers are obliging by labeling their products as anti-aging, anti-wrinkle cream. The shelves are filled with products guaranteed to plump, firm, fill out, hide, and reverse.
All of the pots I saw appear to have super-powers and none was labeled as a simple moisturizer. Which is all I want. Besides, it seems to me moisturizer would do the trick of erasing wrinkles as well as any of the other super pots. After all, if your skin isn’t stretched and cracking ear-to-ear, it is less likely to show other flaws like craters and lines.
I ended up leaving the store without buying anything because while one of these potions might in fact just be simple moisturizer, I couldn’t tell. And they are all so expensive. At $25 – $30 a pot, if you try one and after two applications it makes you break out, you’ve just wasted a lot of money, and have to go out and spend more in search of the moisturizer you wanted in the first place. Or you can just resolve to see if olive oil might not be a perfectly good substitute and walk out of the store.
Do women really buy these things? Do they really believe that a mere cream is going to reverse wrinkles? Perhaps I am too unfeeling, cynical, logical, and realistic, but there ain’t nothing sister that is going to stop Time And Its Effects. Nothing.
We’ve all seen the proof of this. Think back. Have you ever been in line behind a slender, trendily dress girl with long hair. Except when she turns around she’s not a girl. She’s 60. It’s such a common sight, it even has a name – the 16/60 syndrome. Trust me, if these pots of wrinkle cream worked, these 16/60s would bathe in them and come out with the face of an 8 years old.
Even as I was becoming exasperated at my lack of choices, it occurred to me I would be as embarrassed bringing up a pot of anti-aging to the cash register as I was at 14 when I sidled up to the boy at the check out with a box of “feminine products.” With all their anti-aging, anti-wrinkle promises, these little sparkly boxes might as well have “You Are A Crone” written in large, bold block letters on every side. I can see the thought bubble as the high school age checker slides the box through the scanner: “You really think this (looking up at you) is going to help that?”
At home I had a refreshing rant with The Daughter. I covered the fact that my needs are generally simple, and yet I can never find what I want in a store, as well as the fact that it seemed highly embarrassing to be carrying around a box that screamed ‘anti-aging cream’ all over it. She said: “They thought of that. They market it to all ages with the idea that if you use it when you’re young, you’ll never need it when you’re old.”
How perfectly diabolical and emperor’s new clothes-ish. Get the audience conditioned to the fact that the cream works when there is nothing for it to work on, and so blind their eyes to the future, when they won’t believe what they are seeing. It’s probably a moot point, though. No company looking to profit from the latest marketing intelligence is going to stay the course and make the same cream for 30 years. They will move their customers on to something else in the perpetual search for youth and dollars
I guess what really bothers me about all this is that women are not expected to age. As I have noted before, the fashion and beauty industry parrot “there are all kinds of beautiful.” And as I have also noted before, they don’t believe a word of it. Otherwise, why this constant harping on looking young? You can’t look your age and be beautiful?
My grandmothers were beautiful. My mother was beautiful. It wasn’t because they were wrinkle-free. It was because they were kind, patient and loving. It was because they were interesting and had character and thought about things other than wrinkles. It was because they kept their sense of perspective along with their sense of humor.
Mark Twain recognized this when he said: Wrinkles merely indicate where the smiles have been. All I can add to that is: Save your money Sisters and smile!