Erasing Your Wrinkles Is Not Empowerment

Jessica DeFino
5 min readJan 12, 2021

Introducing “non-aging,” the disguise du jour for anti-aging ideology.

The groundbreaking term recently replaced “slow aging,” “preservaging,” “aging gracefully,” and “addressing mature skin” as the way to capitalize on women’s fear of living long-but-wrinkly lives while conveniently avoiding the ire of anti-anti-agers!

Well, almost avoiding.

When I read the words “Non-Aging Skincare Tips’’ in a headline earlier this week, coupled with a lovely photo of 54-year-old Halle Berry looking more like a 24-year-old, it made me ARGHHH and ugh and also :weary face emoji: cry.

Not because I’m opposed to “non-aging.” (Although, of course, I am. Synonyms include “dead,” “cryogenically frozen,” and “Dorian Gray’d,” none of which really appeal to me, personally.) But because I’m opposed to the industry patting itself on the back as it pretends that “non-aging” and “preservaging” don’t send the exact same message as “anti-aging.” Because I’m opposed to the industry celebrating biologically “old” but aesthetically young stars like Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani as if it isn’t an equal-but-opposite glorification of youth. They do!! It is!! Stop with the semantic gymnastics and just say you fear death/hate old people/will do anything to avoid confronting your own mortality already!!

Listen, I get it. If solutionism is to be believed (it’s not), all problems can be solved by product technology.

The problem: Society stops valuing women after a certain age.
The beauty industry’s solution: Products, practices, and procedures that make it possible to appear younger as you get older.

And sure, maybe that anti-aging product does take the burden off of the individual buying it. Maybe it makes that one individual feel better about how they look. But it only compounds the original problem for the collective. Looking more youthful might “empower” the person who gets Botox/filler/face lifts — “empower” as in, grants them the literal power to prevail in a society where “beautiful” women statistically see more professional, personal, and financial success and beauty is defined, in part, as youth — but it does not empower people as a whole. It disempowers the collective by continuing to perpetuate unrealistic…

Jessica DeFino

Jessica DeFino is a beauty reporter covering natural, holistic, sustainable skincare. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Vogue, Allure, & more.