Councilman Lou Waters

I hit the gym at the crack of dawn Saturday. I cranked up the bike trainer to get my heart rate up. And there to expedite that on the TV screen was, Cindy Crawford having her chin held high by some handsome guy named Jean-Louis Sebagh. Turns out he’s a “cosmetic chemist.” Who knew there was such a thing. There was no sound, but I’m a quick study and after several Crawford poses titled “Cindy Crawford 45” and shots of this Sebagh guy harvesting a special melon, then holding up a test tube with melon liquid that Cindy smears on her face, I’m convinced that this is the only way to age properly.

This juice from the melon, grown only in a special, leafy green field in the South of France no less, reduces redness, smoothes wrinkles and eliminates laugh lines. It’s a miracle. They said so right on the TV screen. Now I hate infomercials but I’ve always loved Cindy Crawford and that’s why I watched. And it got me to thinking.

When I was handed the CNN assignment to create a program “for old people”, 20 years ago, I was challenged like never before. I remember seeing on a newsroom desk, one of those show business magazines with a cover title indicating that 28-year-old female models were on the verge of retirement. They were too old.

So that became one of our first stories - not what it was like growing older, but how an aging nation was fighting to stay younger.

Now I’m all for efforts to look your best, but in some respects the cosmetic industry was and still is out of control. The marketing alone is enough to make you scramble for the nearest cosmetic surgeon and jar of the latest “stay young forever cream”.

We are a youth obsessed nation. There’s no getting around it. But we’ve come a long way in 20 years, baby! We’re now more accepting of our gray hair and lived-in faces. Or are we?

I just surfed the internet and the list of age defying products is mind boggling. They mostly claim the same benefits. Here’s one: The Magic Illuminating Liquid Potion. You can mail order it from England for only 25-pounds-sterling with the promise that it will “take away the years.”

So, instead of feeling blessed for reaching a pinnacle in life, the marketers encourage us to turn to them for a fountain of youth.

What was it Eleanor Roosevelt said?: “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art”.

It seems to me that if we cling to our myths and fears about aging, our possibilities will wither and die.

I will always like looking at the beautiful Cindy Crawford but she can have her “melon juice”. I’m hanging onto my laugh lines. I’ve earned them.

(1) comment

John J Flanagan

Like the writer, I am also in the "third" age of life, having more years behind me than ahead of me. If one looks at this topic of America's constant celebration of youth, we might feel getting old is a bad thing. It isn't. Yes, there are aches and pains, gray hair, more indigestion, and some loss of reflexes, but wisdom comes to us in this phase.
We also should bear in mind that we in the senior years are a very coveted group, especially in the minds of advertisers and marketers. We are generally reliable, pay our bills on time, read books, vote regularly, and tend to purchase things like "oldies" CD's, support PBS, watch TCM regularly, go to church, eat out at local restaurants, support our adult children when necessary, and we are apt to be usually conservative, although there are a few progressives among the elderly as well.
As a conservative senior, I value first my Christian faith, family, country, watch FOX news, am very disturbed by pro-Obama, partisan and unbalanced news outlets like MSNBC and the New York Times, listen to conservative pundits, Rush and Sean, am pro gun ownership and second amendment, pro life, and totally for only traditional marriage.
Many of us seniors some would consider out of touch with America, especially with liberals, but that is not the case. We do not call for an end to MSNBC although this station is over the top and propagandistic, yet progressives sometimes hate FOX news and want to get rid of Rush on the airwaves. As a senior, we appreciated different views, even while we stand on our own convictions. The America I grew up in was always a rough and tumble country where one could express one's views and argue one's point of view. Today, with political correctness, some would deny us that right. I digress.
In any case, it is not so bad being in the third age of life.

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