There’s no need to disclose exactly how old I am. Let’s just say I’m at the age where my hair is turning gray, wrinkles are appearing, and things are starting to soften a bit. My hairdresser asked me the other day, “Well, when are you going to start coloring your hair?” as if it was a foregone conclusion that I would be doing so. My dermatologist recently asked me if I was ready for some of the anti-aging creams she sells or, perhaps, some Botox? I said no to all of it.
Anti-aging cosmetics and chemicals are a billion dollar business. Women are spending fortunes on creams, lotions, serums, and injections that they hope will keep them looking young. Here’s an example of how out of hand this business has gotten. Once I was helping one woman with her finances (which were a total mess and she was in debt to the tune of $73,000). I told her to think about what she could cut from the budget and what were “sacred” items that had to stay (meaning, I thought, lights, heat, food, shelter, etc.). On her sacred list were her Botox injections, hair coloring appointments, and a host of expensive creams and lotions to prevent wrinkles and cellulite. I asked her if those weren’t really “wants,” not “needs” and she told me in no uncertain terms that she would not live without them. Ok, then. I told her she’d better start liking Ramen noodles because the money was going to have to come from somewhere. I’ve met plenty of other women like this who believe that spending a lot of money and going into debt to look young will actually keep them young. From where I stand, it’s not worth it.
It’s not that I don’t want to look good. I do, within reason and within my budget. And it’s not that I relish getting older. I certainly do not. But there’s a line that I have to draw. I’m just not willing to spend a fortune to engage in a battle that I have no hope of winning. If aging were like a disease that could be cured, of course I would fight it tooth and nail with everything I had. I would pay a ton of money if I could stop aging in its tracks and remain young forever. But the truth is, no matter what I do, aging isn’t something I can cure. I can’t even slow it down. No matter what I put on or in myself, the aging process is still going on.
The best I, or anyone, can do is to cover the effects for a while. But even then, there will come a point where I will just look silly. (You know the women I’m talking about; the ones that are clearly senior citizens with jet black hair, faces that look pulled too tight to smile, and caked on makeup. That look’s just not going to work for me.) I’d rather age naturally and gracefully than reach that point where I say, “I think I’ll stop coloring my hair or stop getting Botox,” and age dramatically and suddenly so that everyone can see me change in front of their eyes. No thanks. It’s no use fooling yourself that cosmetically covering the effects of aging is really keeping you young.
There are so many other things in this life that I’d rather spend money on that have a better return and add value to my life than anti-aging products. I can save for my future health care which, unlike cosmetic anti-aging products, may literally be a matter of life and death one day. I can travel and see the world so that when I am old I have those memories to look back on instead of looking back on hair appointments and chemical peels. I can save for my retirement so that when I am old I can live freely and comfortably. I can spend my money on books and theater shows and outings to museums that enrich my mind. I can spend money on things that keep me young internally, where it matters. I can eat better food, invest in exercise equipment, and get good healthcare. All of that will add to the value and (hopefully) length of my life over time. But to spend a fortune on trying to remain young looking? It’s a waste of money and time. I’m going to get old and die regardless of what chemicals I put on and in my body and I’d much rather be able to afford my old age and die with a lot of great memories than be a beautiful corpse.
Unless you have unlimited money, in order to be financially healthy you have to choose your battles. Make them battles you can actually win. Aging is, unfortunately, not a winnable battle. Whether you’re covering up the effects or not, aging is still going on inside your body and mind. You are getting older and there’s no sense denying that fact. I would argue that it’s better to accept it and move on, spending money on things that you can control, than to keep fighting a war that none of us will win. No one gets out of this life alive and, if you’re very lucky, you don’t get out of it young, either.