The term aging can be sticky, and historically, our society has tiptoed around it, a tiptoe which eventually transforms into an uncertain dance, not completely dissimilar to my dog's reaction when she encounters a puddle (stay with me here). She has three choices: padding her way straight through, trepidly making her way around it, or her usual reaction: simply stopping, sitting, and refusing to move any which way.
Now, I'm not trying to compare our age-obsessed society to the nervous tendencies of my dog after a rainstorm, but also, I kind of am. A weird analogy, yes, but one that actually bears some accuracy. Because aside from the handful of pioneers who unabashedly splash their way through the murk and intimidation, many of us balk. There are some (like my golden retriever, Lucy) who remain budge-proof, ignoring the idea of aging (or said puddle), pretending it doesn't exist, and unknowingly transforming that initial tiptoe into a resounding yet outwardly silent thunder. And then there are those who inch their way around the puddle but may welcome some support to help them get them through the process unscathed.
But when did aging—or a two-foot puddle, for that matter—become a mind-bending obstacle? After all, both are inevitable facts of life. It will rain, and puddles will form, just like we will age, and wrinkles, spots, and sagging will appear. However, things are changing, and slowly but surely, we're talking more about those topics that used to be labeled "the other": discussions regarding age, weight, and gender norms that used to be shoved under the bed with offensively thoughtless care.
Despite the fact that we're all young, we talk about aging a lot here at Byrdie. Perhaps it's the fact that "anti-aging" products are sent to us daily or that being immersed in the business of beauty has conditioned us to be hyper-aware of every new line or spot—both of which serve as a constant reminder that yes, we are getting older.
But seeing as the majority of products we used are still preventative, it'd be remiss not to admit we don't know everything on the topic. In fact, far from it! However, we're only human, and we still have thoughts and fears. To get a feel for their quarter-life stance, I thought I'd ask some of my fellow editors to sound off on the topic—and weigh in myself. From role models to some deep-seated feelings, keep reading for some of their honest thoughts on aging.
Victoria Hoff, Wellness Editor
"I always joke that I know exactly how I'm going to age because my mom and I are that identical. (Seriously—looking at photos of her when she's my age is eerie.) She's absolutely beautiful, and I'm lucky to have some solid genes, but I'm also way more obsessive about my skincare routine than she is and feel really good about the preventative measures I'm taking: namely, using SPF every single day and really being diligent about moisturizing and using retinol.
"But I think a healthy mindset is just as—if not more—important than what I put on my skin. I admittedly have anxiety around aging, less in the physical sense and more in the fact that I love being young—I actually love all the uncertainty and spontaneity of being in my 20s, and I think my chief goal is to maintain this youthful energy even as I continue to physically age. While I have absolutely no judgment toward people who use Botox and the like—I am a firm believer that you should do whatever makes you feel confident and happy—as of right now, I intend to stick with my healthy lifestyle and skincare regimen. When I encounter older women who are stunningly beautiful, it typically has less to do with physical appearance than their spirit. (Look at Linda Rodin—she's everything I want to be!)"
Lindsey Metrus, Managing Editor
"It wasn't until I started working in the beauty industry and became acutely aware of the burgeoning anti-aging market that the fear of what I'd look like 20, 30 years from now began to settle in. Each time a new study came out or a product launched to help 'turn back the clock,' I'd be privy to new information about our physiology that puts me into defense mode. For example, I recently learned that under-eye puffiness as you age is due to the fat that supports your eyeballs dropping down and moving into your under-eye area. Both of my parents have prominent bags, so needless to say, my fate is probably cut out for me. However, there's no sense in worrying about this until the day I start to notice pockets forming. Until then, I can continue to practice my religious skincare routine of serums, oils, retinol, and sunscreen to help my skin look as good as it possibly can. Am I against getting a little touch-up to remove said bags? No. But letting it consume me would probably only age me faster.
"Oftentimes when we hear 'anti-aging,' our minds immediately go to vanity (wrinkles, age spots, collagen depletion), which is why the term has lent itself to controversy. However, I think when it comes to your body, anti-aging is paramount. Stress, alcohol, poor eating habits, and lack of exercise are all factors that can deplete your system, so while a wrinkle won't set me into panic mode, high blood pressure or low calcium levels will, and I'll do whatever it takes to turn my body's clock back."
Erin Jahns, Assistant Editor
"It's only been in the last couple years that I've really given much thought to aging—i.e., it's been making me skittish. I know this sounds completely horrible and probably sickeningly warped, but I think my first moment of panic was when I turned 23. Twenty-one was the golden year, 22 still felt safe (with some help from Taylor Swift), but by my 23rd (and definitely 24th) birthday, I started feeling uneasy.
"But then there's this: Almost all of my favorite women in life are over 40, and there isn't one thing about them—age spot, wrinkle, or dimple—I don't find perfect. My mom had me later in life, and though she doesn't look a day over 55, she's actually 70. She's very much a makeup enthusiast (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree), and she's also militant about skincare. With her bright and dewy skin, naturally rosy cheeks, and practically poreless face, I'm hoping genetics may work in my favor. However, I also know that I've had more sunburns in the past three years than she's had in her whole life—oops.
"My mom has never had any type of treatment, and a healthy diet supplemented by exercise and skincare is all she's ever relied on. I'm inspired by that, but to be completely transparent, I wouldn't turn my nose up at a few touch-ups down the line. However, there's no way to predict how I'll feel in my skin five, 10, or even 40 years from now. What I fear most is looking in the mirror one day and no longer seeing the reflection I associate with my most treasured moments and milestones—if that makes sense? Luckily, I know there is still so much to come which makes the inevitable wrinkles and sagging a little less scary."
Dacy Knight, Weekend Editor
"I'm pretty sure I've been making remarks about 'getting old' ever since the coming and going of my 21st birthday, but in truth, I don't think I'm too concerned about aging. For one, I'm lucky enough to have something of a preview thanks to my sister who's 13 years my senior. Even though she's always making cautionary remarks about wearing SPF religiously and appreciating my youthful looks while I can, seeing her age ridiculously gracefully gives me hope for what's in store for myself down the line.
"Second, the mere idea of aging doesn't terrify me. The women I admire most hit their stride later in life, and I completely subscribe to the notion that the 30s are the new 20s and so on. I'm certainly not ecstatic when I find gray hairs popping up, but I pull them out and move on. I eat well, wear sunscreen, exercise, and have adopted retinol and AHAs into my beauty routine, but I'd rather not induce more wrinkles by obsessing about the unavoidable. With each passing year, my metabolism may slow and any crow's feet may get a bit deeper, but I'll also have an additional year of lived experience and achievements.
"Last but not least, the older women I find most beautiful are attractive mostly because they radiate an unapologetic attitude about their age and exude a confidence in their own skin that can only be cultivated with time. I'm looking forward to reaching that level of self-acceptance and, in the meantime, happy to do what I can with sunscreen and retinol."
Hallie Gould, Senior Editor
"'Aging' is a funny topic to understand. So much of it is abstract—like learning who you are outside of other people, coming to terms with your likes and dislikes, accepting (and ultimately) loving the person you've become. I don't know if I've ever felt more comfortable in my skin. That being said, there are so many tangible characteristics that come along with aging too, even more so because I'm immersed in this industry.
"I think about my under-eye circles, burgeoning crow's feet, or the size of my lips as compared to someone else's. I'm acutely aware of the way foundation gathers in one fine line on the side of my mouth and, admittedly, have smoothed it away in pictures. I know exactly where a plastic surgeon would inject my forehead if I had the guts to make an appointment. But more than shame, I feel empowered by my ability to take care of my skin and make choices that feel good. 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 to learn and move on.
"With age, I've been able to entirely reappropriate my insecurities, harnessing them as a source of strength and confidence. And the cathartic release of writing them all down, having to organize and reflect upon the most well-disguised parts of me, is a true privilege. I guess what I'm saying is that realizing the danger of unrelenting comparison is what allows me to sit at my desk writing about $100 BB cream—and the 'no makeup' makeup a supermodel swears by—unscathed. I've found it's not as much our insecurities that change with age (some do, of course), but rather the way in which we internalize them, deal with them, and let them go."
Next up: Is the term "anti-aging" actually problematic? Our senior editors discuss.