#beautyhasnoage... what about anti-ageing?
There is a lot of chatter in industry circles about the messages beauty brands give customers and how we 'talk' to and make customers feel. It ranges from genuine concern about women's self esteem, to attention-grabbing rants. I thought it might be useful to explore some of the arguments and to encourage some debate here...I hope you will join in.
So what influences our attitudes towards age, beauty, youth, attraction? What causes us to feel unattractive, old, ugly or saggy? Cosmetic brands, magazines, adverts, blogs, vlogs, retailers, body-shamers, language, Hollywood, models, culture, community, Men, other Women, even our Friends? Probably some or all of it, though most importantly, it is ourselves....
I was at an event recently where someone was quite vocal, criticising beauty companies, for the language they use to describe signs of ageing on their packaging e.g. 'deep wrinkles' and for Product Names, e.g. Crepe Erase. The argument being that beauty companies are responsible for making people feel insecure and bad about themselves. When asked what she'd do, her answer was to present skincare by age e.g.'this is for 20's, 30's 40's etc'. Many people responded, that we all age differently and at different rates and age, is less and less relevant. If you have deep wrinkles, my guess is you have spotted that in the mirror and if you have decided you want to try and improve their appearance, don't you need a product that tells you what it does? The only way to do that is to use language that describes it, in terms that are commonly used and understood and that differentiates it from others. For example, if you truly have deep wrinkles, would you be more enticed by a product that says it is for 'deep wrinkles' or one that says, 'smooths skin' or one that said 'for age 50+'? Which would you think is more likely to give you results?
A MERUMAYA® example is that we focus on ageing youthfully vs. anti-ageing, however most customers will use the search term 'anti-ageing'. Therefore, if we want to rank in the searches potential customers are using to research products, we have to use those terms or be invisible. With regards product names, I named one product Iconic Youth Serum™ and there is one blogger who, while she loved the product, did point out that she was not sure it was an Icon yet. She is right! Though, the reason for naming it such, was because we are 'self select' in stores i.e. do not employ sales staff in all the stores and I needed to highlight, that Iconic Youth Serum™ is the heart beat of MERUMAYA® and the signature product of the range. In this case the word Iconic is calling out the importance of this product within the range, rather than making a claim about it's performance, unlike perhaps products name 'Miracle' and such like. You already know that there are no miracles, you already know that you will not look 20 years younger without invasive intervention, just like you know that it is nigh on impossible to lose 10kgs in 3 days. That does not mean that those of us who want to, should not have hope, should not want and be able to improve it, without being made to feel like gullible dummies.
So while it can be argued there are some beauty brands that are actively creating new-signs-of-ageing-that-make-life-not-worth-living, you are at complete liberty to make your own judgement and decide for yourself. If we hand over all responsibility for how we feel to a third party (or another person for that matter), we are at their mercy for our happiness and can never take control and feel truly good about ourselves, or teach our daughters to feel less insecure and more confident in themselves.
In my opinion, it all stems from our feelings of self worth and self esteem that we develop throughout our childhood and is then further influenced by external factors. These essentially dictate the messages we send ourselves via the little voice that exists in all our heads and is often unkind. I think that is where we need to start work, rather than pursuing the blame-game, exclusively.
- Look in the mirror and be honest about what you see. Don't search for flaws; recognise your beauty and positive features too. Men seem to look in the mirror and see George Clooney while women look in the mirror and see flaws. Too often women get a compliment and respond with, 'oh no, I've put on so much weight or I've got a huge spot/lines/pore.' When you get a compliment, simply say 'Thank you' and if you feel embarrassed, move the subject on.
- Decide how you feel about the way your skin is ageing and without guilt, shame or fear of recrimination, chose what and how much you want to do about it. Everything from nothing, to using mountains of skincare, all the way to turning yourself into cat-woman with surgery, is fine. The important thing, is you take expert opinion (at least some that the expert has not been sponsored for), read other customer reviews and then you decide what is good for you. You can be confident that, at MERUMAYA, we have not paid for any blogger, vlogger, press, or customer product reviews, not even given loyalty points in return for product reviews. That is only so that customers know that the review is not incentivised or biased, (not because we don't think bloggers should make a living - that comes via separate promotional activity).
- Give yourself positive messages in the internal conversations that go on in all our heads. Women are notoriously self-critical. This article from The Pool, says we criticise ourselves 8 times a day https://www.the-pool.com/life/life-honestly/2016/1/women-criticises-themselves-8-times-a-day
- Be realistic about what you can achieve. At MERUMAYA we focus on ageing youthfully vs. anti-ageing. I believe that anti-ageing happens when you are 6 feet under. If you are ageing, give the air a punch of joy because it means you are alive and it is so much better than the alternative! That is not to say we cannot or should not, improve, slow it down, reverse to a degree and prevent or delay further signs of ageing. Skincare can and does all of that. What you need to look out for is brand language that you feel comfortable with. Does it over-claim, does it sound realistic to you, what do customer reviews say, does it sound genuine and personal or corporate and marketed? Choosing products that have evidence-based claims rather than anecdotal and are about the results, rather than the source of the ingredient, is a good start, in my opintion. If it sounds good, though they have used the word 'wrinkles', so what? Also, avoid being duped by 'free-from' claims - a product does not deliver results because it does not contain something. In my opinion fear-inducing marketing commentary is bad; e.g. to my knowledge, no-one's face has fallen off from using 'nasties'. That said, if you want to avoid them, that is fine too, but still ask, 'what does it contain that gives the results you claim'? At MERUMAYA we avoid controversial ingredients where possible, but rather than highlight that, we focus on the clinically tested, active ingredients and what results they will actually give you.
- What else can we do? Women support women. Comment on beauty that you see. There is so much beauty in everyone. It may be their eyebrows, hair, skin, eye colour, jaw line, cheek bones, neck, thick lashes, skin tone, lip shape, delicate hands, nails,etc etc., but it is there, if only you look. I was at an event recently and came across someone with a gap in her teeth. I remarked how beautiful it looked, especially with the red lipstick and her big smile. How individual it was in a sea of straightened, veneered, filled teeth. I'd never met her before but she later tweeted....'Tonight a woman that I had never met before gave me a compliment on a feature I was once bullied for. I'm beaming. Spread happiness people.' We are so often our harshest critics and yet, we can so easily make each other happy - women to women
- We can change our attitudes to age and show more reverence and respect for it. For the wisdom and life experience the visible signs show, our changing colours, our growing empathy, our understanding of the things that truly make us happy. This is more prevalent in eastern and Mediterranean cultures.
#beautyhasnoage has been the MERUMAYA® tagline for some time and is a completely heartfelt sentiment, which I hope will become an attitude in times to come. I truly believe and make a point to comment on the beauty I see in people. As well as building a skincare brand, my mission is to help women feel good about themselves, more confident, (see signature essence blend inspiration), to feel beautiful at all ages, to follow their dreams at any age, to teach our daughters to be confident and more secure in themselves.
Join me please. Spread some happiness, change attitudes, raise confidence women to women, support small businesses like MERUMAYA® who are truly connected to customers, share this blog and my video on YouTube and use our tagline #beautyhasnoage as much as you can.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.