The anti-aging genre.

I ran across this cluster of books in our library’s featured titles section and was immediately struck by the implications. In the health section of that library, which is one of the smallest branches in our county, there are tens more of them. Given the explosion of books dedicated exclusive to cheating Father Time, I’d say anti-aging qualifies as its own genre separate from health and wellness. There is a distinction to be made between desiring wholeness and well-being, and a dogged pursuit of the fountain of youth.

The opposite of aging, for those unaware, is death. We either age or die, and we certainly cannot “age backwards”. So books with titles like these bother me, and here’s why:

Look at the psychological game the library tries to play here by marking these books as part of the ya category (young adult). Why would a young adult be interested in a book on looking younger? Conversely, what do these books’ target audience gain from the characterization of the books as young adult?

They are, after all, marketed directly to women like me. Namely, these are catnip for 40-something women, many of whom are in various stages of mini-crises. The crises range from sexual and relational, to career and motherhood and everything in between.

In our youth worshiping culture, a woman who is recently divorced, grappling with her rapidly changing body, or just watching a daughter blossom into everything she used to be, these titles are tempting. I find them sad. And yes, even I have read a book or two which focus on adding a little friction (okay, focus on adding a lot of friction) to what can feel like a fast downward slide. Usually they are –like this one- medical in scope.

One of the reasons I review the books I read about this season of life, even though I grappled at first with whether to do it, is that openness helps keep me tethered to the reality of where I am on life’s journey. It makes it possible to grow older gracefully* rather than give in to the pretense of stopping the inevitable or turning back the clock. There is no way we can be 25 again, or 35 again, no matter how well we eat and how far we go to pretend otherwise.

I recognize that my life has been touched by heaping measures of grace and love which make it easy (or easier, at least) for me to grow older gracefully. I’m not in the brutal postmodern dating market. My husband long ago lost all objectivity concerning my looks and desirability, which I embrace as the blessing that it is. I have adult children, but also relatively young children to raise yet as well. There are bits of residue and vestiges of younger years present in my daily life.

At the end of the day, however, 46 is 46 is 46. Age is not relative, and all any of us can do is take the best care of ourselves that we possibly can, enjoy where we are, and try to live in a way that brings comfort and solace during our twilight years. Fantasizing over books telling us we can “crack the aging code” are not helpful over the long run.

But since when has contentment sold any books?

*Disclosure: I am fully persuaded that my grandmother would vehemently disagree with my assertion that I am growing older gracefully with one perusal of one of my health receipts. She could stretch the dollars I spend on collagen peptides, bio-identical progesterone, make up and skin care over a fortnight with little effort. Hopefully the money I save on hair dye and anti-aging books makes up for it. A little.

18 thoughts on “The anti-aging genre.

  1. hearthie says:

    Yes.

    It’s natural enough though. Our society killed off the compensations of maturity – all power is youth power. Without tight skin and vigor, why bother getting up in the morning, really?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Elspeth says:

    I think the YA thing is what really threw me off. I was like…LOL….wut? Who is that supposed to fool?

    It’s not as if I am all gung ho about aging, and I certainly do my share of self-preservative things, but given the overwhelming amount of “Be happy with who you are” propaganda in this current cultural climate, there is something sinister about marketing mid-life crisis books to women on the one hand, while telling them they are fabulous just the way they are on the other.

    It’s the perfect way to sell tons of makeup AND inappropriate clothing to a larger market, I guess.

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  3. Robyn says:

    “There is a distinction to be made between desiring wholeness and well-being, and a dogged pursuit of the fountain of youth.”

    It’s a fine line. Kind of the same fine line found between enjoying the flavour of your food and gluttony/lust of food. Requires vigilance in our own self-examination.

    And on the more humorous side …. I’d be happy to just lessen the growing bat-wing problem I’m having with aging LOL. I’m not sure it would make me look younger, but I’d sure feel better!

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  4. Elspeth says:

    It’s a fine line. Kind of the same fine line found between enjoying the flavour of your food and gluttony/lust of food. Requires vigilance in our own self-examination.

    Yes, it is a fine line, Robyn. I don’t claim to have found it, hence the disclosure. But I do recognize the toxic nature of not being intentional and aware of what I’m doing and what I expect to get out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hearthie says:

    Oh. Come work out with me, Robyn. My coach has been vicious about our poor triceps for over a month now. Loose skin/subcutaneous fat? Yeah, still there. Muscle under? Oh-so-firm. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Robyn says:

    Els: I do get a bit pouty about having to be on guard all the time. But I must say, as I grow in the Lord it does get easier … but we still have to do it, nonetheless.

    Hearth: I would love to know what isolation exercises you do for triceps. I just discovered a really kewl kind to do. I can email you the link if you like.

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  7. hearthie says:

    Isolation? Ha. Ha. Ha. Well, on Monday I got to do sixty pushpresses and 36 strict presses. Then she thought we could hold planks. Which – not so much. Dips are popular, but she’s really been killing the presses lately. The slow-drop (lower bar to count of five) are particularly miserable. Or “do as many as you can in a row with just the bar” after the weighted sets are over. I’m bored, I’ll put up an arm picture over on HRG in a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. stmichaelkozaki says:

    Really agree with this post. Try to cheat death? We become a very sad joke.

    I’m torn tho, because we should live right and treat our bodies right. Forgoing processed food & grains (eating meat/fish/eggs/vegs/fruit) & lifting weights 3x/wk one really can look & feel 30 at 50 & be fully functional and alive at 90. Most don’t know this. I sure didn’t.

    But many housewives do sense something is very wrong with the modern diet/lifestyle so search for books. I don’t blame them; they may indeed find the right info and their families live a much better life for it.

    http://bpisports.com/blog/dr-o-five-pillar-exercises/
    https://www.drbrettosborn.com/sites/default/files/GetSerious.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Elspeth says:

    I eat VERY minimal grains, exercise regularly, and as my disclosure pointed out, do all sorts of little things not even listed there to support my health and hopefully keep me looking and feeling my best as I continue to grow older.

    The reality is however, that I am somewhat privileged in the fact that I can avoid grains -which are very cheap food and easy to stretch to feed a family- as a housewife. A lot of families need the budget stretching foods like pasta and rice to keep their kids nourished. We were like that early on, and have just been very blessed that our station bumped up steadily to the point that just as our stage of life kicks into the gear where avoiding large numbers of carbs and feedlot meat is most beneficial, we can afford the alternatives.

    I was recently noting that my husband has a couple of 50-something uncles and their wives who live rural lifestyles and have amazing physiques despite not doing anything specific regarding diet and exercise. Just living their lives and working on their properties.

    It dawned on me that I know a lot of housewives who are very strict about what they eat. They take the economic hit to avoid grains, they avoid sugar, they drink a lot of water, they are true health zealots, and even with exercise and they are still overweight. I include myself in that number, by the way. I am perpetually 20-25 pounds overweight except when I am running regularly. I can mask it well on my 5’9″ frame, but still. It bugs me. Recent pics of me are on the about page and in my Friday fun post. I don’t pretend to be svelte.

    While my aunts and uncles eat all the pie and drink all the soda they want and have visible muscle tone in their 50s.

    I have determined that these are really the differences between suburban bodies and active bodies, whether rural active or city active. It often doesn’t have a whole lot to do with whether or not one is eating well or not. Or even whether one is exercising well or not.

    At a certain point it gets to be a very uphill battle. for me that was around age 37, after the 5th kid.

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  10. hearthie says:

    What E said. I actually do lift weights 2-3x/wk (4-5 hours/wk) and am extremely strong for a 45yo woman. I spent 3 of the last 12 months on Whole30. I’m still fat. I’m very healthy, but I’m fat.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. stmichaelkozaki says:

    Look, I hear what everyone is saying. I’ve been there, saying the same thing.

    But this stuff has been empirically tested over many years. It’s not just my opinion (others discovered it long before me). I’ve been both fat and fit (only getting sick made me explore diet changes). It’s hard to believe but true: if a person eliminates:
    a) grains
    b) sugars
    c) seed oils (canola oil, etc)
    d) processed food

    And eats:
    aa) meat and fish (natural, no processed)
    bb) eggs & butter
    cc) veg & fruits
    dd) organ meat (liver, kidney, tongue, bone broth)

    With lifestyle:
    aaa) sleep 7+ hr
    bbb) lifts free weights properly 3x/wk, cardio 2x/wk
    ccc) 30 min noon sun/day (bare skin, more if not pale).

    They WILL become lean, muscular, and fit and yet still eat their fill every day. Their skin and hair will glow. They rarely get sunburn, cavities, or sick. Both women and men. It’s 90% diet. Moderns are addicted to white flour and sugar, & seed oils & lack of sun are killing us and giving us cancer (which is a new disease due to the modern diet).

    Yes eating traditionally is more expensive and hard. Most must reset priorities to make it happen (no eating out, less travel, less luxuries, no cable, etc.). But one can save money this way too…we started to hunt, fish, grow, and harvest most of our food for health reasons yet unexpectedly saved money as a by-product. And many Americans can grow/raise/hunt a lot of their food if they work at it, even in some urban areas.

    Rule of thumb: we all have a six-pack abs. They just hidden behind grains in the form of fat. And man, do I LOVE grains. Addicted. Can’t have them in the house, I’m afraid. I’ve only posted here because somebody once steered me right and I owe it to return the favor. Read the book Get Serious. Watch the posted videos. Everything I’m saying here is old news, and it’s real.

    Liked by 2 people

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