Age is Just a Number and Hegemony is Just a Word

All around us we are constantly bombarded with ads, commercials and billboards advertising a variety of products to help women look and feel younger. Countless creams, soaps and lotions litter the counters of most American women’s bathrooms, who at one point or another, all find themselves to be more wrinkled than they want to be. Smooth youthful skin has become a central pillar of the standards of beauty, just another piece of the hegemonic superstructure that is the Beauty Industry. Historically, aging has been viewed as a natural process, a record of a persons life and evidence of the fact that they are full of wisdom and knowledge. But with the advent of anti aging serums and cosmetic surgery, beauty standards have shifted to marginalize the wizened and weathered natural woman in favor of artificial youth. Everywhere a middle age woman looks, the standards of the Beauty Industry tell her that her laugh lines and crows feet are signs of ugliness, not experience; they tell her that she must slather her skin in lotions and potions to maintain an acceptable appearance, else she risks, dare I say, getting old. Instead of a beautiful celebration of a life well lived, wrinkles have become a sign of ugliness and worthlessness, instilling fear of aging in the hearts of women of all ages. This is the fear that lines the pockets of cosmetics companies. The Beauty Industry is by all accounts a hegemonic device used in an attempt to keep women within the narrow isles of beauty, so they will continue to buy the products that keep them “beautiful”.

Should youthfulness be an important factor in beauty, or can age be beautiful? What dictates change in standards of beauty?