Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Freeing ourselves from a narcissistic trap

Our celebrity culture has gotten out of hand. Not only do magazine publishers think I will pay to read an "exclusive" cover story discussing Did they have boob jobs? Renee, Britney & Nicole--the truth behind the rumors! (this week's In Touch) but this ridiculous focus on gossip and appearance is spilling over into real life. This morning I saw a TV commercial for a new Olay Regenerist product. The ad shows a beautiful Addison Montgomery-lookalike frowning into a ladies' room mirror as the voice-over says "Your first age spot. You think everyone notices." The women on either side of her at the sink turn to stare and a spotlight beams down to shine on the alleged "age spot" for the rest of the commercial. I first caught the ad in the middle and I thought it was for acne treatment, because that's the kind of teenage anxiety it stirred up. I am sick of this! Not only do I still break out with occasional pimples at age 38, now I am supposed to be worried that everyone is staring at my age spots?

The truth is, nobody really cares about our age spots. No one is looking at our faces with laser-beam intensity. One of the dual joys and curses being a Mom is the flying-under-the-radar anonymity the role provides. As a grown-up and an author, it is a relief to finally be judged primarily for my ideas, rather than my looks. I am not going to let anyone sell me "paranoia in a jar."

I am all for skin care (wear sunscreen!) and yes, I wear makeup when it is called for, but I can't help but wonder what we could accomplish if we took the time, energy, and money we are supposed to be throwing at canned beauty and put it to better use.

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