By Zoe Williams
The term ‘anti-ageing’ may now be taboo, but the new era of beauty advertising still profits on women’s insecurities
It is no longer fashionable to be anti-ageing: it has been rebadged as “pro-skin”, by the founder of American skincare brand Drunk Elephant and “anti-wrinkles” by Neutrogena. A new vocabulary of renewal, regeneration, plumpness and “glow” now dominates the language of the beauty industry, the ethos of body-positivity finally inching its way up to the top.
It falls into a familiar category: stuff you know is basically tripe, but you can’t really object to because what went before it was worse. Still, the principle is that any visible sign of ageing is a disgusting thing in a woman, whether that is a wrinkle or the overall dulling effect of having seen too much life. But it is no longer acceptable to age-shame a woman, since time marches past us all. Instead, she must be draped in diaphanous euphemism. Age-shaming, incidentally, I have decided is worse than fat-shaming, since not only does it locate a woman’s worth entirely in her appearance, spur self-hatred and then instrumentalise it for profit, it also rejects any value in experience, thereby writing off the female as a social entity. This is why the Neal’s Yard “age well” campaign is novel: it doesn’t just reject the lexicon of anti-ageing, but the principle that a woman’s priority should be to deny her wisdom rather than flaunt it. But then I would say that, being old.