Section B:
Why Are Women Afraid of Wrinkles
When I casually mentioned to a colleague that I was looking into skin cream that claimed to beat back the destruction that comes with age, her worries poured out. A month ago, she told me, she had suddenly noticed wrinkles all over her face. Fingering her beautiful but finely-lined features, she explained that, although she knew that her discovery had more to do with the shock resulting from the sudden end of a six-year relationship than early ageing, she just had to do something about it.
Giving her the painful facts concerning her chance to renew herself, I told her I thought the claims of such miracle cures were ridiculous. Despite my remarks, however, she begged to know where she could get the treatments I had mentioned. When it comes to beauty who wants to know the truth?
Our ability to believe what we want to has, in the past, made life easy for the beauty industry. Fuelled by the immense value attached to youth, it has made millions out of vacant promises of renewing faces and bodies. To give skin care scientific authority, beauty counters have now stolen a thin covering of respectability from the hospital clinic. Sales staff in white coats "diagnose" skin types on "computers" and blind customers with the science of damaged molecules and DNA repair. Providing the "drugs" for this game, the industry has created new skin therapies which, they say, don't just sit on the surface but actually interact with the cells.
Is this really just a harmless game, though? The increasingly exaggerated claims made by manufacturers about their products' ability to get rid of wrinkles have worried doctors. The advertisements declare that active ingredients stimulate cells deep in the skin's layers to divide, so replacing old cells and effectively renewing the skin.
If these claims are true, could the effects be harmful? If normal cells can be stimulated to divide, then abnormal ones could also be prompted to multiply, so causing or accelerating skin cancer. A new arrival on the anti-wrinkle front claims to be a more natural way to avoid those terrible lines. As a pill rather than a cream, Imedeen works from the inside out, providing the skin with nutritional and chemical support to encourage the body's own self-repairing process.
First developed in Scandinavia, it contains extracts of fish, marine plants, and shrimp shells, which provide a formula including proteins, minerals, and vitamins. According to a published study, visible improvements appear in the skin texture after two or three months of treatment. The skin is softer, smoother, wrinkles decrease but are not eliminated, and marks and fine brown lines disappear.
One woman admits she was doubtful until she tried Imedeen herself. Women, she believes, should take responsibility for the natural balance of their body chemistry. Careful care of the body chemistry, she says, not only improves looks but also enhances energy processes and even expands awareness and mental function. Imedeen fits this concept by providing for the skin's needs. But can shrimp shells really do the trick with wrinkles?
Offering a more scientific interpretation, Brian Newman, a British surgeon who has studied Imedeen, explains that the compound has a specific action as food is digested, preventing the destruction of essential proteins in the diet and allowing them to be absorbed in a state more easily utilized by the skin.
On the other hand, a different doctor who specializes in the study of the skin is unimpressed by the data and questions the methods used in the study. In addition, the medical journal in which the study of Imedeen is published is a "pay" journal — one in which any studies can be published for a fee. According to the doctor, any attempt to play by the medical world's rules of research has been a failure.
Such controversy is familiar ground to Brian Newman, who used a type of oil from flowers for years before it was generally accepted. In no way discouraged, he insists the most important point to establish is that Imedeen actually works.
Ultimately, however, the real issue is why we are so afraid of wrinkles in the first place. Sadly, youth and beauty have become the currency of our society, buying popularity and opportunity. The value of age and experience is denied, and women in particular feel the threat that the visible changes of ageing bring. According to one psychological expert, when men gain a little gray hair, their appeal often increases because, for them, age implies power, success, wealth, and position. But as a woman's power is still strongly perceived to be tied up with the ability to bear children, ageing demonstrates to the world her decline, her uselessness for her primary function. Wrinkles are symbolic of the decline of her ability to reproduce.
Until we appreciate the true value of age, it is difficult to do anything but panic when the signs of it emerge. While the media continues to show men of all ages alongside young, smooth-skinned women as a vision of success, women will go on investing in pots of worthless rubbish. Let's see more mature, wrinkled women in attractive, successful, happy roles and let's see men fighting to be with them.