The physical signs of aging—such as gray hairs, more wrinkles and skin that’s starting to sag—are a natural part of getting older. However, instead of accepting the changes, many people try to fight them with a vengeance; it’s estimated that the anti-aging industry is nearly a $90 billion one.
Are all the pills, creams and procedures worth it, though? It’s one thing to feel momentarily bummed out at the discovery of some more gray hairs or another age spot on your hand. However, if you find that you dwell on the matter to the point of becoming bothered on a daily basis, or take extreme steps that even go against your own comfort level, then you may be obsessed with youthfulness. Here’s how this obsession can interfere with your life.
You experience bouts of extreme envy
Experiencing brief pangs of envy when a bunch of smooth-skinned twenty-somethings walk by may be somewhat normal, but when you develop excessive envy or even feel anger towards younger folks, it may be time to evaluate your feelings.
Changes in appearance are a fact of life as you get older; learn to embrace the skin (and hair, and smile) you have, instead of sulking when in the presence of younger generations. Envy and anger are terrible feelings to have. Besides, not only will you stress yourself out while harboring jealousy, but your thoughts may be outwardly visible: are you sure you’re not unknowingly giving youngsters sneers or the evil eye as you hold on to your aging frustrations?
You’re becoming someone you’re not
If you regularly insist on shopping at stores that boast hip, teen-appropriate clothes even though you may have teenage children yourself, it could be a sign that you’re too obsessed with youthfulness. Of course, fashion is a highly personal means of self-expression. But are you shopping with the sole purpose of recapturing your youth, even though you know deep down that stepping out in skinny jeans and a “LOL” graphic tee isn’t really your thing? If the answer is yes, consider switching up your clothing choices.
Tons of stores sell figure-flattering, highly stylish clothes. You might discover that you’ve been trying too hard to be something other than yourself and actually feel relieved when you adapt your approach to fashion. You could also learn that people will probably take you more seriously—personally and professionally—when you ditch those “kitten faces in space” leggings for something else.
You loathe your birthday
For me, just about the worst thing about turning the big 4-0 last year was the public Happy Birthday singing of friends and restaurant staff when dessert arrived. But those gray hairs sprouting near my temples and the parentheses around my mouth? It’s part of who I am; rather than getting upset about getting older, I like to think back to a book by John Robbins called “Healthy at 100.” In it, Robbins details cultures that hold the aging population in high regard and discusses people who actually look forward to celebrating their old age.
Furthermore, Robbins explains how those who had positive perceptions about getting older lived 7.5 years longer than those who held on to negative views such as “As you get older, you are less useful.”
If you find yourself shunning birthday gatherings or other events because you feel embarrassed or angry that you’re older, it’s likely that you’re letting age get the best of you. Be happy with who you are, and celebrate the wonderful day you were born!
You’re experiencing financial strains
Renee Young (what an appropriate last name for this story!) is a New York public relations businesswoman who says she spent $20,000 on a tummy tuck when she was 48 years old. She believes that it was a necessary move that made her feel as though she was “still in the game,” professionally. She also did it because she felt that time spent at the gym wasn’t producing the trim body she personally wanted.
Then there’s Dr. Jeffry Life, known for the buff body he got through his involvement with an “age management” clinic in Nevada. Although he’s now in his 70s, his body looks like that of a muscly 30-something. Patients admire his youthful appearance, including one 47-year-old man who chooses to get testosterone and hormone injections. The hormone therapy alone costs him $1,000 per month.
Are you spending outrageous amounts of money all in the name of holding on to your youth? It’s something to think about, especially if you find that you’re starting to struggle financially because of it. An obsession with age can also interfere with your life if you find that you’re not psychologically prepared for the changes some procedures produce; some people struggle with the new versus the old them, upset that their younger-looking selves didn’t improve their lives as profoundly as they expected.
As with anything in life, do what best suits your needs and makes you feel happy. Just be mindful of when you cross that line—and you’ll know in your gut when you have—that makes you feel like you’re obsessed with youth instead of being truly happy with your own appearance.