It's Time To Ban The Term Anti-Ageing And Just Get On With Life

Why do we make getting older a bad thing?

Last September Allure magazine  -- a health and beauty publication in the US -- announced they would no longer use the term 'anti-ageing' -- and urged the rest of the beauty industry to do the same.

Why?

Because they wanted people to "stop and consider why we attach a negative connotation to something so completely natural. No, not everything about growing older is necessarily wonderful, but the opportunity to grow older is a wonderful thing, not something to fight."

Don't be anti-ageing ... enjoy it! Image: Getty

Sing it, sister.

They went on to say that Editor-in-Chief Michelle Lee had pointed out in her editor's letter that "everyday language is incredibly important — maybe even more than most realise — since it informs how we see the world."

So that little "anti" we throw in front of words casts aging as this big, bad thing we need to get rid of. Don't agree? Anti-fungal, antiseptic -- see it now?

And while not everyone will jump on board -- Hollywood, we're looking at you -- there is actually a very good argument here. After all, it would be pretty easy to just call it "extra-moisturising", "extra-comforting", "hyper-cosseting", "double-glowing" -- the possibilities are endless. The difference may be small in word count but could be huge in changing how we talk about the passing of time.

In the UK it seems that could even happen sooner than you think, if the demands of a new report come into effect. The Royal Society for Public Health, Vision, Voice and Practice (RSPH) is calling out retailers and beauty magazines to ban the use of the term and instead focus on the positives of getting older.

Let's just call this "extra-delicious" instead of "anti-ageing" shall we? Image: Getty

The RSPH's research, titled "How attitudes to aging affect our health and wellbeing," describes fears about ageing as gendered, with women feeling more pressure to stay "young" for longer. They say "twice as many women (49 percent) than men (23 percent) feel pressured to stay looking young," but noted also  that while "anti-ageing narratives are pushing unrealistic body norms and poor body image, ultimately affecting women’s health behaviours ... the narrative pushed by ‘anti-ageing’ terminology and products is one that pervades society and has relevance to us all."

"All human beings," they conclude,"are ageing in their own way, as a natural consequence of being alive. Hence, the explicit presumption that ageing is something undesirable and to be battled at every turn is as nonsensical as it is dangerous. To be ‘anti-ageing’ makes no more sense than being ‘anti-life’."

A step too far? Maybe. But wouldn't it be nice to be celebrated for getting older instead of trying to hide your age from your employers?

According to the RSPH terms like "anti-ageing" are even likely why millennials have been shown to have the most negative perceptions of growing old. A quarter of people ages 18 to 34 believe being unhappy and depressed is a normal part of old age, while a similar proportion (24 percent) think "older people can never really be thought of as attractive".

"Ageism is the most commonly experienced form of prejudice and discrimination, both in the UK and across Europe," the report reads. "Other forms of discrimination, such as racism and sexism, are rightly regarded as unacceptable, yet ageist assumptions and attitudes often go unchallenged."

If this is getting older, we're ready. Image: Getty

The (almost) last word goes to Helen Mirren, spokesperson for all things cool about getting older. Approached by L’Oréal to work with the brand on a skincare campaign, she expressed the same point of view: “I said, ‘this word ‘anti-ageing’ -- we know we’re getting older. You just want to look and feel as great as you can on a daily basis.”

Amen to that. We're off to slap on some "extra-sassy'n'sexy moisturiser" and be done with it.