Cremes, fillers, injections of poisons, skin sanding, and collagen-enhancing machines are just a few of the things the multi-billion industry of beauty and dermatology pushes out to fight the good fight against that awful demon, aging. You’re told that specific, very expensive cremes or “serums” will sink deeply into the skin and refresh, revitalize and cause new plumpness to appear. Remember “royal jelly?” If that is true, how then does the largest organ in our body, the skin, protect itself? Answer: it doesn’t allow them to do anything of the sort IMHO. Give me the peer-reviewed research that supports it if I’m wrong.
Everywhere we look there is an emphasis on youth and what is deemed current beauty, usually white or light-skinned, and maintaining it at all costs. How does that make people who can’t afford these luxuries feel? Why they look for other ways to accomplish their goal. Remember the line in the film “The Help” where the black woman is telling the young white woman what to use to maintain smooth, wrinkle-free skin? Simple: Crisco. Lard, therefore, was the staple beauty product for these women and they didn’t, or rather couldn’t, go to the department stores or pharmacies to purchase cremes.
The market for these wonder products is burgeoning as we face what has been called a tsunami of elderly and will that term, elderly, even have to be redefined? Statistics from the Population Reference Bureau bulletin for 2015 indicate that, “The current growth of the population ages 65 and older is one of the most significant demographic trends in the history of the United States..” (and) “those born between 1946 and 1964 — have brought both challenges and opportunities to the economy, infrastructure, and institutions as they have passed through each major stage of life.”
Many of these “elderly” will be unmarried, widowed or divorced and their living situation will be anything but rosy. “Older women are especially vulnerable. In 2014, about 12 percent of women ages 65 and older were poor, compared with 7 percent of older men. Among those ages 75 and older, women are nearly twice as likely to be poor (15 percent) compared with men (8 percent).”
Poor women, possibly without family support or limited community resources, may have a decidedly different view of themselves and what an infinitely extended life would mean to them. But, of course, how many poor women have access to the astounding scientific developments coming down the pike?
They will watch from the sidelines as the more affluent buy the services they need to maintain that youthful appearance or get the infusion that provides it. And the question of job discrimination enters into the race for youthfulness, doesn’t it? If women, in general, are discriminated in jobs, job placement and salary, how much more difficult is it for an older woman who can’t afford the dermatologic treatments?
Swiss researchers are currently exploring ways to fight aging (is it really a “fight?”) by manipulating our RNA, that part of our cells that is vital to all life. Preliminary research points to a moping-up action inside cells to remove particles left after the destruction of one organelle, the mitochondria. This incredible structure is the powerhouse in the cell.
Should the scientists succeed in denying our bodies the scourge of aging and that unmentionable inevitability, death, what would we then be faced with? Everlasting life? One of the most vexing questions today, with limited lifespans, is to answer one simple quandary; why am I alive or what is the meaning of life? Philosophical, of course, but is the prospect of a life that never ends a bright light or a blight? Weighty to be sure.
The research is not as limited as we might think, however, and aging and beauty are only one area of interest in this cell manipulation. The other, and possibly more important area, is that related to neurodegenerative diseases. Which would you want; beauty or the ability to function normally or near-normally? Tis perplexing is it not?
Scientific breakthroughs, undoubtedly, will present unthinkable questions of which we are not even currently aware. You can’t know the answer if you don’t know the question. In fact, you can’t even begin to search for the answer in that case.
The struggle between science and our acceptable norms of both body and behavior will only become more intense as our bodies give up their hard-won secrets. Will we, casually, begin to print new organs, veins, arteries and even swaths of skin for rejuvenating facial plastic surgery? The possibilities appear limitless as are the ethical questions.