"Effective immediately," Phil Picardi, the digital editorial director of Teen Vogue and Allure, wrote beneath a (rad) image of Helen Mirren, "the phrase 'anti-aging' is banned from the Allure lexicon and style guide—moving forward, we will not be 'anti' aging. Yes, we will give you tips on how to take care of yourself, and yes, we will review the products that help you do so—but we'll be making a concerted effort to stop shaming women for getting older, and to celebrate their beauty instead."
This isn't the first time a publication has banned vague, loaded phrases from its approved vernacular. Many have ousted "beach body" (a gross, pointed expression invented only to scare women into crash diets and obsessive exercise come summer) in hopes to finally make it clear our form shouldn't have to fit one particular, mostly male-driven narrative—as if the only body allowed on the beach is one that has been approved by oppressive mainstream standards.
It's inspiring, it's forward-thinking, and it's positive. But it's also complicated. I'm a 28-year-old woman, one who likes to take care of her skin and, admittedly, thinks about anti-aging all the time. I have an appointment set for my first-ever round of Botox this week. I get lost in my morning ritual, applying essences, serums, and lotions all meant to keep my skin looking young. But the fact of the matter is, I am young.
As each year leaves another fine line along my eyes, aging inevitably sprouts up in my consciousness. But more so than shame, I feel empowered by my ability to take care of my skin and make choices that feel good. Antioxidants and essential oils, as well as injections and other more invasive treatments, all technically fall under the "anti-aging" umbrella. I'm not scared of aging as much as I'm interested in taking back those words (phrases like "anti-aging" that have morphed into something meant to confuse us) and using them as an opportunity for education.
But as someone who has only dipped her toe in the shallow end of the deep, murky "anti-aging" water, am I even qualified to comment on its possible damaging effects?