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Pro Age? Fuhgeddaboutit

Pro Age? What does that even mean? Comedian Gail Forrest considers the question, and runs defiantly in the other direction.

“Pro Age” is all the rage. I have no idea what “pro age” means but the words are repeated in women’s magazines, FB sites, Instagram, and Twitter. I am still confused as it remains ambiguous. There is no clear definition even in a Google search. Is it embracing age or not? Do I happily want to get older? The pro age people appear to want me to find joy in aging. 

No.  I am “anti-age.” There is no “pro” in my definition. There were only four times in my life I was pro age. 

  1. When I was fifteen and desperate to be sixteen so I could get my driver’s license. 
  2.  When I turned twenty one and could drink legally and ditch the fake ID. 
  3. When I turned sixty five — bring on new hips, knees, and rotator cuff surgery.  I have Medicare! 
  4. When I turned forty and had incredible mind blowing sex for ten years!   

I’m from a gene pool that never divulged their age or wanted to age.  My Mother had three driver’s licenses all with different dates of birth. Her age was a secret; a veritable trivial pursuit question with no right answer.  Age was a floating enigmatic number.  I never ever reveal my age as I took a genetic vow of silence. Mom lied about my age just like her mother lied about hers.  Shhhhhh. Ironically years ago my boyfriend needed my date of birth to buy me a plane ticket and I told him. Now he mutters it like a mantra. First class was nice but not worth breaking my silence.

I applaud the women going gray which is very pro age but not for me. I think it’s brave and defiant in this culture obsessed with beauty but my grays have to go the minute they arrive. I remember how my sister and I coerced my Mother to dye her hair. We made her watch those old Clairol commercials about husbands not wanting to dance with their wives because of their gray hair. “See Mom see, you need to dye your hair,” we pleaded, even though my dad didn’t dance.  Ironically the minute I got a few gray strands she insisted I get my hair colored.  Black hair became her signature and she defied age until her last breath at 102.   

Despite the Pro Age rage all I see are men and women trying to look younger. Youth is available regardless of age. Hate your wrinkled forehead and don’t want to grow bangs?  Botox is just a shot away. Those nasolabial folds making you look like a marionette? Fillers baby!  I love, love, love my fillers.  A bit ouchy but bring them on.  Want a jaw line like Jane Fonda?  Me too.  She needs to divulge her surgeon’s name.  Hate your turkey neck?  Neck jobs are here and just a google search away. A lower face lift gives you a neck and jaw line all in one; the daily double! I just read about a 200k face lift in the New York Times.  I think a surgeon must have removed her face for all the work they did to restore youth. Don’t despair the expense, my friend Linda’s was 15k and she looks fabulous. The newest rage is the Brazilian Butt Lift but, oy and painful.  That one stumps me. Pouches under your eyes making you look droopy and sad?  They are easy peasy to lift and shave years off.  I have a friend all set for one at the end of the month. She’s older than I am and excited to kiss the bags goodbye. Pro age my ass baby. In 2020, 16.7 billion dollars was spent on cosmetic surgery in the U.S.  In its entirety the cosmetic market was valued at 62. 46 billion.  That’s a lot of anti-age money and I contributed to it. 

COVID gave women a reprieve from beauty and youth as we didn’t give a shit for two years.  I lived in sweat pants and my beauty project every day was brushing my teeth.  The few times I dared to look in the mirror I broke out in a rash on my stomach and almost lost consciousness.  My hair looked like birds had made a home in it, my skin fossilized and my wrinkles  multiplied.  I aged 10 years in two.  I needed filler, color, and a blow dry!  I was however, digging the sweat pants – comfy with an expandable waist so I could eat more Hostess Cupcakes.  In totality I was Archie Bunker.  I vowed to stop looking in the mirror until I could venture out and get color, filler, and find a blo dry bar.  2022, and I’m back!

Men are not pro age either. How many of them are looking forward to erectile dysfunction?  Can’t wait to age and have a limp dick?  I don’t think so.  Big Pharma however, gave them a stay of execution. It’s like a face lift for their penis.  Men have also now entered the beauty market in a big way.  They spent 11.6 billion on skin care in 2019.  Male cosmetic surgery is burgeoning: eye lifts, tummy tucks, face lifts, neck lifts, pec implants, and butt implants.  The gyms are loaded with old guys lifting, pedaling, squatting, swimming, and preening in front of the mirrors, trying to rid themselves of middle age bulge and the old dumpy guy look. Good work, keep it up … 

Pro Age is the wrong wording in my opinion. I’m going to take my time and fight aging to the finish line. And moisturize. 

29 COMMENTS

  1. Every longitudinal study ever done shows that contentment in later life comes from connection and purpose – not cheekbones.

  2. This kind of writing is pseudo-funny but c’mon, kind of pathetic too.
    Ageing well isn’t all about how you look. When does one outgrow that kind of shallowness? Hey do what you can, what you want, to look and feel good, but the “answers” to the body’s ageing in this article sound like they are funded by the cosmetic surgery industry. Sorry but I’d rather read about people who are ageing gracefully body, mind and spirit. And about taking care of one’s health as we age. Good health is beautiful.

    • P.S. Oddly enough and given the money spent on cosmetics, and cosmetic surgery it looks like in this country we rarely out grow the shallowness. It’s unfortunately on every billboard, commercial, celebrity endorsement, Instagram, and on the red carpet. Social media has made it even harder.

  3. Well, I’m one of the “pro-age” advocates! It’s been 10 years that I stopped dying my hair and I am completely silver and loving it! Something as simple as not dying my mane anymore has allowed me to accept the aging process. Aging is inevitable, but how you approach it, and the attitude towards it, is something completely different. I’ve been gray since my teens, and when i was dying it, I literally felt as if I was chasing youth and would have been mortified if anyone knew that I had gray hair; I associated it with OLD, haggardness, and giving into life. Man, was I completely WRONG! I feel more confident and sexier now than in my younger years. Yes, i do have aches and pains and parts of my body that don’t work as they used to, but I’m okay with that, hence exercise, eating better, and taking care of myself helps. But the hair, ooooh the hair, I will NEVER go back to dying it! Silver is BEAUTIFUL!

  4. I agree with some of the comments above – the idea of fillers and facelifts and implants sound so old school and completely unnecessary in this day and age.

    However, if you are still of working age and over 50+ the workplace can be tough on women and if dying your hair, having a blow dry and not telling people your age helps you keep a positive frame of mind – I’m all for it.

    I love the ageist and read it avidly – I try to keep fit and healthy and enjoy many of the articles around fitness , but, sometimes it’s nice to hear a different point of view, even if I don’t agree with all of it!

    • I just found Ageist and this is the second article I’ve read, so am pretty disappointed. I was hoping this site could be a respite from the perpetual messaging about appearance, but guess not. I’ll give it a couple more articles, hopefully I will find something substantive about *doing* rather than the same old lamentations about diminished beauty.

      • Well PLEASE do not give up on Ageist. I am a comedy writer and do stand up so my pieces always tend to see my Larry David point of view. This newsletter is full of great articles on health, science, exercise, fashion and truly not the same/old same/old
        I meant this piece to reflect what I see slammed in our face every day in this culture. Sadly it was interpreted seriously which was not my intention. Keep giving Ageist a read.

  5. Aging happens regardless of how you try to evade it. Exercise, healthy diet, social connections, and a purpose in life go a long way toward aging as well as possible. As for the rest, I’d rather invest my time, energy, and money in something other than vanity pursuits. It’s exhausting constantly chasing that illusory fountain of youth. I don’t get why American culture is so obsessed with denying aging.

  6. Hilarious! I love that you can laugh at yourself and the whole process, Gail. Humor is the best medicine AND anti-ager!! I think that whatever a woman or man do to present the version of themselves they are happiest with is a home run! For me, well, I’m not telling…

    • Humor is an anti-ager I agree! Laughing people look younger and act younger. I am also always looking for the Larry David side of a topic. So glad you found the humor also. I had fun writing it!

  7. You are as funny and beautiful as I remember you, Gail. I prefer the notion of conscious aging over pro aging. You make the best choices for you without having to worry about pleasing others. You grow in your ability to discern and act on what matters most to you, how you choose to spend your time and resources. Not growing old, but growing free. For more on this alternative approach read your classmate Carol (Matzkin) Orsborn’s bestseller “Older, Wiser, Fiercer.

    • Thanks for your lovely words. I like conscious aging as it is more personal and explanatory than Pro Aging which as I see from some of the comments can cause projected judgement. It is personal not business, to twist some classic words around. I will look for your book. And good to hear your wisdom

  8. If the responders read your bio (below) they would understand you. We have been laughing about aging ever since ‘an alien’ (who couldn’t smile much less laugh but was still polite) held the bank door for your dear departed father. Another reason you don’t actually endorse much beyond minimal cosmetics but you do have the ability to laugh at yourself (and me). The entire world has turned grey (no pun intended) so glad that you continue to spread sunshine through humor and hair dye.

    • If you can’t laugh at yourself of bffs what’s left. As I mentioned my mother at 102 would look in the mirror and not believe her reflection as she applied all her Sisley, Mac, and Clinique age cosmetic age fighters. She died fighting.

  9. Gail, I love your articles. I learned so much about how much people spend on these surgeries/Botox/fillers as well as your comedic genius added in. Our USA is so youth centric and it’s sad that there is so much ageism ingrained in us and others. I understand why everyone is so consumed by trying to look younger. There are other countries who honor their olders.. but not here.. maybe ageism will lesson and our generation is much hipper and cool. I don’t get fillers or cosmetic surgery only my nose done at 17 when my parents forced me too when I was a hippie and didn’t believe in it as it wasn’t natural. So for you and others who feel led..it’s your life and do what works for you. Thanks for the laughs

    • Thanks for the fun words and yes, we are a nation consumed with beauty. It is hard to resist the lure of shaving a few years off. Even men are enjoying botox, eye lifts, and lifts. I live with a man who thirty years ago had his neck done because he hated how it was aging. We don’t have to embrace age if we are not happy doing so

  10. I’m pro-aging, which to me means pro-living. It’s the opposite of dying.

    And to me, this article reads like a defense of self-hatred. To say that “we” are a culture full of youth obsession is like saying that “we” are a culture full of racism or alcohol abuse or science denial or planetary abuse or…or…or…. Sure, we see it all around us, but defending it and perpetuating it doesn’t make it cute or funny. Or healthy. (And no, I’m not accusing the author of any of these things—I’m just saying that “other people do it” is not a reasonable defense.)

    I do recommend reading the great anti-ageism books out there and understanding the scientific reasons why ageism is a scourge that harms everyone.

  11. Thanks for your comment and I think it also depends on how we define ageism. Again another ambiguous term. By the way I think SADLY we are a country filled with so many “isms” that it has become dangerous. I am a comedian so my point of view always looks for the comedic side and finds a way to express it rather than get depressed/morbid. I think Carol expressed it well a few comments before yours “Conscious Aging.” Beauty is an industry in this country and has been as long as I’ve been alive.

  12. Gail, I’m really enjoying your essays, glad I found em.

    Me, in my 70’s now – I do feel like a young guy who has something really wrong with him.

  13. Gail, what happened is I crested age 70 with all its attendant pitfalls, lack of stamina, body aches, etc., but you’re right, nothing wrong with that – I can’t be pro or con ageist anymore than I’m pro or con the law of gravity, I just accept it.

    I see nothing wrong in a person’s doing what they can to make themselves look and feel better about themselves as they grow older. But part of the current American ethos seems to demand that we be and act young forever, which when I think about it, is grotesque. When I was growing up, I was aware of aged public figures who were regarded almost as fonts of wisdom, Margaret Mead, Robert Frost, Georgia O’Keefe, Henry Miller, eg. …. and offhand, no such current figures come to mind. Yeah, we do have Boomer politicians hanging on way past their bed time, still trying to be young, not willing to let go of their power … and that in itself is kinda grotesque, IMO.

    Anyway, we’re living in a chaos period now, but in time, things will get back to an equilibrium and sanity will again prevail.

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Gail Forresthttp://www.gailforrest.com
Gail Forrest is a comedy writer and stand up comic. She studied at Second City in Chicago and has performed at Pretty Funny Women and Flappers in LA, as well as Second City to name a few. She has a published book Gonepausal on Amazon about women in midlife and is working on a new which includes men and promises to be just as funny with even more insights on aging.

 

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