Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Attitudes about Aging March 20, 2010

I was once told by someone that I need not worry about finding clients for my esthetic services because there are “always vain people out there”.  Of course I would beg to differ with this point on many levels, first and foremost since I think that most people who seek esthetic services are just trying to look their best and that doesn’t mean that they are vain.  I see part of my job as an esthetician as a way to help people look and feel their best.  Just getting your eyebrows waxed and shaped can change a person’s appearance entirely.  Why not invest in making your skin look great?  Is that really so vain?

This whole idea of who seeks esthetic services and why ties into an article I read this week in The New York Times.  The article is entitled Appreciating Your Value as You Age, and it is an interview with Drs.Vivian Diller and Jill Muir-Sukenick who just wrote a book called Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change.  (This post is about the article in The New York Times, not the book since I haven’t read the book yet)  Drs. Diller and Muir-Sukenick are now psychotherapists but both used to model so they have an interesting perspective on the whole idea of how women perceive aging.  (There is also a brief interview with the authors in the April issue of Allure but I couldn’t find the interview online)

Instead of paraphrasing the article I will instead just quote a part of it:

After decades of counseling patients, Dr. Vivian Diller and Dr. Jill Muir-Sukenick say that dread about growing older can spur an existential crisis of sorts. Such dread isn’t about vanity per se, but has more to do with a loss of potential and questioning one’s place in the world. It can lead to depression, alcohol abuse or sleep disorders, they say.

Yet, therapy isn’t usually on the short list of solutions for those bothered by an aesthetic “problem.” A lunchtime laser treatment or a $180 face cream is.

Dr. Diller, 56, and Dr. Muir-Sukenick, 57, are here to tell American women — no matter how stellar their accomplishments — that it’s not superficial to admit that aging is upsetting. They encourage their readers to figure out what’s driving them to have daydreams about a refined face-lift rather than scheduling one.

At a time when cosmetic surgery is increasingly seen as a casual endeavor, and anti-aging injections as inevitable, “Face It” gives women practical steps to parse how they feel about this beauty paradox. “Should women simply grow old naturally, since their looks don’t define them, or should they fight the signs of aging, since beauty and youth are their currency and power?” the authors ask in their book.

I think this quote from the article perfectly captures the paradox women in this country find themselves in.  We hope that our looks will not define us, but we also know that how we look is important.  Women are under more pressure than ever to not look their age.  Certainly as an esthetician I can help people look their best at any age, but sometimes the issue is more than that.  What do they define as looking their best?  If a client is not bothered by her wrinkles than suggesting laser facial resurfacing isn’t a good idea.  But giving that same client a relaxing, thorough facial so she leaves with a smile and glowing skin is a great idea. 

I think it is great that the Drs. Diller and Muir-Sukenick advocate introspection before injections but also recognize the true price of aging.  Having to redefine yourself as you age is a struggle for many, many women, and I am glad to see that someone is addressing these issues.

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