A recent report has called for the term "anti-ageing" to be completely banned from the cosmetics and beauty industry.
The study, released by the U.K.'s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), examined attitudes towards ageing and how they affect people's health and wellbeing.
Many everyday conversations, informed by the media, are rife with examples of language that either trivialise, vilify, or catastrophise the ageing process.
Almost half of women and a quarter of men surveyed in the study reported immense pressure to maintain a youthful appearance.
The narrative pushed by "anti-ageing" terminology and products suggests that ageing is undesirable and to be "battled at every turn", but this is as "nonsensical as it is dangerous", stressed the report.
"Many everyday conversations, informed by the media, are rife with examples of language that either trivialise, vilify, or catastrophise the ageing process."
"Chief among these is the persistent use of the term 'anti-ageing' within the cosmetics and beauty industry." A term, the authors have argued, that is prejudicial and discriminatory. While other forms of discrimination such as racism and sexism are regarded as unacceptable, "ageist assumptions and attitudes often go unchallenged", the report said.
The organisation encouraged the cosmetics industry to follow in the footsteps of one of the U.S.' top beauty magazines, Allure — which last year announced that it would stop using the expression "anti-ageing".
"Whether we know it or not, we're subtly reinforcing the message that ageing is a condition we need to battle," explained Alllure's editor, Michelle Lee, in a letter.
Local magazine Destiny also revealed award-winning Ndebele artist Gogo Esther Mahlangu as its "cover girl" for September last year — in all her wrinkled-skin and grey-haired glory.
Not only is the 82-year-old a heritage icon worthy of being celebrated, but the cover defied the "cover girl" norm.
"Our report shows that ageist attitudes abound in society and have a major impact on the public's health, and yet they are rarely treated with the seriousness they deserve," said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH.
If they are to be treated seriously, the first step would be to not, through the cosmetics industry, shame and fight what is a completely natural process — ageing. This is why removing the unrealistic term altogether might help in the fight against ageist attitudes.