Having worked in magazines, I know better than to buy the bunk they splash across their covers. Lines like “Stroll Away Two Sizes!” and “No Sweat Summer Slim Down!” are designed to make you part with your money, but they’ll never help you part with those extra pounds. For starters, strolling doesn’t burn fat. Speed walking does. And if you’re speed walking you’re sweating, so there goes headline number two, no?
You understand what I’m talking about. Lines like “Bathing Suits for Every Body” mean they’re showing Hefty sacks that cinch at the waist or worse, real women in real bathing suits they really shouldn’t be seen in. Admit it; you’d rather be subjected to those annoying Victoria’s Secret Angels bursting out of a bikini than some Nancy From Next Door packed into one to prove “it can be done!” despite having six kids.
I know I would.
I also know that after more than twenty years in magazine marketing I should be smarter than to be sucked in by the words framing Oprah’s smiling face. Specifically the words “45 Is the New 35!” God help us all. Particularly those of us who are forty-five.
Do they have any idea of the maintenance mania that headline has unleashed? From coast to coast, women in their mid-forties are kissing their families goodnight and disappearing into their bathrooms for up to two hours of cleansing, moisturizing, exfoliating, toning, applying, removing, smoothing, patting (gently, please!), and praying. Oh yes, they’re praying. They’re praying the hundreds of dollars in skincare, preservation, and rejuvenation products they’re using actually work. And that their husbands don’t complain when they finally come to bed that it’s like sleeping with a baby seal.
Of course my husband doesn’t complain. He likes that I look like a kid. He thinks it gives him permission to keep acting like one.
But I digress.
In addition to the wrinkle-defying feats taking place in powder rooms from the Atlantic to the Pacific there’s teeth-whitening, callous buffing, and pedicure repairing. There’s cuticle pushing, elbow sloughing, and a whole lot of loofahing. There’s hair removal, cellulite fighting, and moisturizing bronzer applications that miraculously make pock-marked thunder thighs look lots thinner. I don’t know how this works, and I don’t want to know. I just want the folks at L’Oreal to know that should they ever stop making Sublime Glow there’ll be nothing sublime about the response from me and my millions of cottage cheese addled pals. Why? Because we’re worth it.
Of course the worst part isn’t the beauty routine that routinely takes all night. It’s deciding what to buy. The $100 teenage-skin-in-a-tube miracle serum that promises to make me irresistible to acne flecked high school freshman, (thanks, but I think I’ll pass), or the similarly over priced line filler that claims to turn back the clock with one swish of what looks to be a putty knife slathered in Burger King’s special sauce. (Fast food on my face? On second thought I’ll take one of those teens.)
Frankly, it’s all so exhausting. And that may be the skincare industry’s ultimate, evil plan. If they can deny us our beauty sleep in the name of looking young, lovely, and rested, we’ll become increasingly dependent on their magic microspheres, elastomers, and GABA, their bio-maple compounds, peptides, and anti glycation serums. We’ll keep spending exorbitant sums on these snake oils. We’ll stay up into the wee hours applying them (and, if you’re like me, wondering who the hell concocts words like “glycation”). And in the end, despite devoting half our lives to de-puffing and plumping, resurfacing and restoring, freezing and hydrating, lifting, smoothing, and de-sagging, we’re going to look nothing but beat. Why?
Because we’re simply never going to get to sleep.
Thanks to the “45 Is the New 35” headline I expect to soon see one that says, “Missing: 45 Year-Old Wife And Mother. Last Seen Entering Bathroom Before House And Still Not Back At Breakfast.” Could she be covered in moisturizer, enveloped in Saran Wrap, and tucked into the tub? She could. Or maybe she simply decided to save her sanity, embrace her smile lines, and take off out the window to meet the girls for margaritas.
The moral of the story? Nothing like a little fun to knock ten years off your face. So tell your friends. Because that’s a headline that’ll never see the light of day.