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Pro-aging: the true beauty


Last updated 5/3/2007 at Noon

At every turn, women are pummeled with advertisements on anti-aging facial products. Late-night paid programming promises youthful looking skin, telling viewers that a dab of cream and serum will make the wrinkles disappear. Standing among the skincare section in specialty stores, rows of bottles claim to hold the secret magical power of youth once again. Flipping through the pages of magazines, readers are bombarded with cutting-edge facial procedures to turn back the clock.

What’s wrong with keeping the clock moving forward? Why is our society suffering from gerontophobia? Who taught us that wrinkles were constitutionally wrong?

Phyllis Sweeney, counselor and owner of the Encouragement Factor, firmly believes that the age-defying products being sold are fostering fear among women. “It is definitely making women more fearful of the aging process,” she said. “The reason is that they don’t know what to expect. The unknown is a recipe for anxiety and stress.”

When women look into the mirror and see their skin going through a maturing process, rather than being fearful of their reflection, Sweeney mentioned that she would like to encourage these women to view the beauty they still see through their own eyes.

“That is why I encourage people to know who they are,” Sweeney said. “Because that will carry people through life; no matter what age we are, no matter what our shape becomes and whatever challenges there may be.” Sweeney added that being able to love who they are throughout their lives will not only help them cope with life but will give women a zest for living. Having self-respect and self-love propels women to live a healthy and well-balanced life.

Sweeney gladly admits that she has not had any facial procedures. She mentioned that she does have clients who have undergone plastic surgery, who reach out, yearning to touch her skin.

“They actually want to physically touch my face,” she said. “I’m sad for what they might be thinking.” She encourages them to express themselves, because she knows that these clients have regrets about moving forward with their procedures.

At an early age, Sweeney was taught that beauty came from within. This is the antithesis of the today’s philosophy. Now, society is telling individuals that beauty comes from the outside. “After people hear that for a number of years, they are going to be brainwashed,” warned Sweeney.

Happiness is not tantamount to looking and remaining youthful, she added. Women can actually get stuck in a memory from the past, imagining that their younger years were indeed golden.

“The goal for women is being able to graciously love yourself in the midst of those changes [growing older] and challenges. It’s not impossible,” assured Sweeney.

Julie Donlon, CHT, shared her own insights into the anti-aging facial products and procedures. “I definitely believe that women are fearful of the aging process,” she said, claiming that a lot of the Baby Boomers are now aging and a lot of these women are being targeted by anti-aging products.

Donlon said that there is a clear distinction between anti-aging products and taking care of the body. Eating right and exercising is not in the same sphere. “You should always take good care of yourself and still embrace the fact that you are getting older. There is so much to look forward to.”

As a certified hypnotherapist, Donlon assists people in moving forward from a place of stagnancy. She asserts that this anti-aging revolution is doing the exact opposite by moving people backward.

She mentioned that when some women reach a certain age, be it in their 30s or 40s, they want to remain there and not move forward. While they grow older, they are doing their best to look youthful and start backpedaling.

“When you cannot embrace who you really are, then that will never give you peace,” said Donlon. “Women need to be joyful at the age that they really are.”

She confirmed that the inevitable is happening: we are aging. And each stage of life for women holds its own special beauty, regardless of age or wrinkles.

“It would be so freeing and liberating for women if we could just embrace that,” Donlon said.


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