Photo via Instagram
Who sees commercials anymore? My mother-in-law does. So when we’re visiting her in Orange County, we do too.
Last night while we were waiting for America’s Got Talent to come back on, Jennifer Garner’s face showed up, real close, real smooth (she’s 49) and started talking about getting rid of wrinkles. Something about erasing them, banishing them. The message was that if you have them, you need to fix that.
My 9-year-old daughter was absorbed, I thought, in building her new Raya Lego set, but she chimed in.
“Why don’t you like your wrinkles? Don’t you like your face? What the heck lady?”
I almost cried. I felt like, wow, I might actually be sending my child not-damaging messages about beauty and the ridiculous expectations placed on women when it comes to their faces and the rest of their bodies. Maybe she’ll grow up to be comfortable in her own skin in a way I never was and will probably never be.
I can’t remember which Jennifer Garner commercial it was. Maybe this one?
It doesn’t really matter, there are plenty of similar commercial spots to be found on television as well as YouTube, Facebook, and wherever else you consume video. (And that’s why I chose to illustrate this essay with a photo of Justine Bateman instead of Garner.)
As depressing as these ads are, thankfully they seem to be falling out of favor. Trailblazers like Bateman are sending the message that there’s nothing wrong with your face. Every person on the face of the earth gets old if they’re lucky enough.
My daughter’s comments made me hopeful she’ll suffer less than my Gen X peers and I did. It may be too late for me. I can flip the switch temporarily, especially after reading or listening to Bateman. For some period of time I’ll walk around rocking my silver strands and saggy neck, feeling powerful in my life experience and grateful to be alive.
Then a photograph (always that angle from below) highlighting my neck and jowls will appear and something clicks back on and then I’m scrolling through gory skin-tightening procedures.
But I will take comfort in my daughter’s reaction to Ms. Garner’s commercial. And I’ll keep listening to Bateman and remembering it’s not about my face but about the fear—what am I afraid of when I look at my jowly neck (more on that to come)? And maybe if we stick together I can eventually not only talk the talk but also walk the walk.