Tyranny of the Mirror: a Reflection on Aging

Lisa writes: This photo was up on the HuffPost50 Facebook page last week (see below.) It is a picture of Dyan Cannon, the well-known actress, at age 77. Cannon looks great at this age, but she looked great at every age. Yet, there was another message here, it seems, the message that this is what 77 can look like, that if we play our cards right and spend more time and more money on our looks, we too might never look old. It is a message designed to make us feel better about aging, but I fear it achieves just the reverse.

Snow White, Mirror Mirror on the Wall, aging

In the name of making us feel good about aging, to show that time’s erosion can be fought at every turn, are we are just making ourselves feel worse about an unstoppable process? Was an earlier generation, far less desperate to cling onto any and every sign of youth, far more comfortable with what nature had to dish out?

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At Midlife, Why I Would Never Want to be 30 Again

Lisa writes: Being over 50 is not a moral failing. Hitting life’s halfway point is certainly not something to be ashamed of or to try and keep hidden. Yet in looking at media aimed at the boomer demographic, it would not be hard to conclude that the post-50 years were one long desperate attempt to recapture the better days of youth, as if we had carelessly left them behind.

Mary Dell and Lisa, Grown and Flown

It turns out that for most of us, those pre-50 days were not better, by almost any measure, and advertisers should probably rewrite their copy to read, “30 is the new 50.”

There is an apologetic quality, an almost defensive posture, to much of what is written about midlife. Yet it is misplaced because research confirms that the decline in our overall happiness, that begins at age 18 and continues steadily downhill, reverses course as we enter our sixth decade. In every country, every income group, whether employed or not, a parent or not, the downward drift in our happiness level reverses course as we approach our 50th birthdays.

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