Better than the Alternative

As people across Canada and the US celebrate their nation’s respective “birthdays” this week, my family celebrated a more personal one this weekend, my mom’s. We invited friends and family over to our parents’ backyard for a traditional barbecue full of sunshine, grilled meat, and cold drinks. At one point I asked my mom if she was feeling blue about getting older (as most women do) and her response was priceless; “I’ve got good friends, a great husband, and beautiful kids. My life is pretty good, and getting older is much better than the alternative. So I’m happy.”

“Getting older is much better than the alternative…”

The alternative she speaks of is death of course, and this got me thinking. How many of us truly appreciate aging? My guess is very few. Aging and getting older are treated like the black plague in Western society. We fear it, we try to avoid it, and we become very sad when the first few signs of it appear.

Consider this:

  • The global anti-aging market is expected to reach $291.9 billion by 2015, a growth fuelled as the affluent baby-boomer generation all reach their mid-fifties and sixties
  • The anti-aging market is completely resilient to economic cycles because of consumers’ unchanging desire to be young and healthy
  • North Americans spend $115.5 billion annually on anti-aging skin care products
  • Botox was injected into Americans 5.6 million times in 2011, the average treatment costing between a few hundred to one thousand dollars
  • Since 2000, the amount of people getting botox treatments rose 584%

I will admit I am no saint when it comes to this. I’m in my mid-twenties and I’m already fussing about some wrinkle lines appearing on my forehead. I bought expensive cream this fall and started rubbing it into my head every night trying to force the wrinkles away. Did the wrinkles go away? No. Do I still apply the cream? Yes. While I do not think there is anything wrong with taking care of your body and health, I think us North Americans may have gone a wee bit overboard on the anti-aging front.

I think the money we spend on avoiding age points to a deeper issue in our society. We are so preoccupied with maintaining youthful appearances that we’ve forgotten what a blessing growing old really is. In some cultures, elderly members of communities wear their wrinkles as a badge of honour because it is truly an accomplishment to have lived past forty-five. In communities where infant mortality rates are high, clean water is a novelty, and health care systems are under-developed, growing old is a feat, a rarity, and something to be cherished. If you never get older, it is because you are dead. Moving forward, we should all try to think of birthdays a bit more like my mom does. Birthdays are a blessing, it means we are here, we are alive, and we’ve lived through yet another year.

Imagine what we could do if that $115.5 billion a year we spend on avoiding age was put towards helping others grow old?

movember: when men are gross for a good cause

Awwww… the smell of disintegrating pumpkins fills the air as fall winds down and the month of November rolls in. Along with the cold, wet rain/snow crap, darker days and lack of sunshine rustles in a new kind of ugly: moustaches.

November has come to be called MOvember as part of a men’s cancer fundraising campaign that a growing number of men participate in year by year. Personally, I think it’s awesome.

Movember confirms my long-held belief that all millennial guys harbour the strong desire to grow robust, “distinguished,” upper lip shrubbery thus confirming their masculinity. The problem is that moustaches went out of style about the time they were born. The Movember campaign is actually INGENIOUS because it offers a socially-acceptable format to showcase one’s moustache for a brief month without the negative ‘stache stigma. These men get to live out Bert Reynold fantasies AND be part of a good cause.

I am one lucky lady.

During Howie’s bi-monthly shave last week he left behind a truly disturbing stache in pure Gunther style. I dared him to leave it on for a day. He wouldn’t. Howie still has not been able to get over the stigma of staches but I hope someday I will be lucky enough to come home to that stache every day in the month of November. Until then, we are choosing to support our friends Geoff Kooymans and Bryan Vanderlugt.

Ladies, I agree. Moustaches are not the most appealing thing, but I say let’s indulge this good cause, and raise money for the men in our lives donating their upper lips for prostate cancer and other men’s related diseases. The outpouring of support they show for women’s cancer research is astonishing. It’s time we give back.

I’ve heard whisperings of women’s cervical cancer groups that wanted to create their own spin on Movember. Only instead of growing out their upper lip hair, they are growing out their… erm… more delicate regions. I have a few problems with this:

  1. What is the point of growing out hair that is illegal to showcase in public? You will literally get arrested if you want to show your supporters how their donations have made your …erm… growth possible.
  2. How would women even go about asking for donations? I can’t even imagine a more awkward conversation. I would rather be the 10 year old girl whose parents trapped her on a car ride so they tell her all about pubescent changes than ask for this kind of donation.
  3. Ladies, can’t the guys just have this one? I mean, I’m all for equality but do we need to do EVERYTHING they do? Just let them have Movember. We don’t need to create a counterpart. If you REALLY want to get into it donate to one of the fine lads or stop bleaching your upper lip for a month.

Good luck gentlemen, may the ‘stache be with you!