Escaping The Stigma Around The American Obsession With Anti-Aging

By Edwige Gilbert

How old are you pretending to be today?

Aging is such a painful subject and experience for many people around the world. We would rather lie or play games with ourselves and others, than admit how old we happen to be. I am a 68-year-old woman with good French family genes – my mother is 95, walking 2 hours a day, and my grandmother lived to be 100 years old. I look 15 years younger than I am, at least that’s what people tell me, and when I tell them my age, no one wants to believe it! I happen to be lucky thanks to my DNA.

Of course, to just tell you about my age and my looks is not addressing the truth, that aging is inevitable, but getting old is optional. Thinking you are old condemns you to become old. Words create our thoughts, which in turn determine the quality of our emotions.

So, let me ask you, when you keep repeating the word “old” how do you feel? Excited, and ready to jump off the couch, or sluggish, stiff, and stuck? I know we agree on the answer, but maybe you haven’t yet realized the impact your words have on your mindset, your behavior, and the quality of your life. You won’t have much “Joie de vivre” (Joy of life) if you continue this train of though.

Some of you accept and affirm that you are old and in response, I am going to paraphrase what Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you are old or you believe you are not, you are right.” The mind does not know the difference between what’s real and imagined. I choose to imagine that I am living victoriously, feeling healthy, strong, and excited about life, and I will continue to do so.

What if we choose to focus on this, instead of obsessing over what procedures or fillers we can have done to give us the illusion of lost youth? I am certainly not against looking more youthful, I am just saying let’s stop the obsession that we witness in America.

Social media and beauty magazines glorify young people. Filters are being used equally among the young and the older population. Everyone looks alike in pictures, and I wonder if that is really the answer to long-lasting contentment. The “anti-aging” movement is scary to me!

I picture a street demonstration with banners reading: “Aging is forbidden” and “Let’s fight it until we die.” We affirm deep down that aging is despicable, and it should not exist in the world! These days, we claim to be all-accepting and all-inclusive in genders and behaviors, so why do we age-shame? What would happen if we refused to buy into this stigma and choose the path of non-resistance?

In France, aging is viewed as an adventure filled with variety. We see bravery, extraordinary victories, the secrets of wisdom, and “joie de vivre.” When I was told I was a senior, I felt my life was just beginning at 65. On that birthday, I made a commitment to myself that whether rain or shine, I will remain passionate, energetic, curious, loving, and purposeful, devoted to a life of service to the world and filled with “joie de vivre!” Passion, energy, curiosity, love, and purpose are my top 5 ingredients for a victorious recipe in aging. The good news is this recipe has no expiration date and is good for everyone.

All these 5 ingredients put together will give you the answer and that is the secret to Joie de vivre. The more you use them, the more they will give meaning to your life. Live every year, month and day to its fullest. Live as if it were your last day on this earth. One final question before I say “Au revoir.” If you had to write your own eulogy, what would you say about yourself? I hope it is your adventure story. As you think about your answer, I ask you to claim your victory and own your story at whatever age you are.

Edwige Gilbert is a Transformation Guide and Founder of New Life Directions. As an international speaker and author of ‘The Fresh Start Promise’ and ‘Victim to Victorious’, Edwige turns stress into success by clearing unwanted habits and behaviors, creating self confidence and exuberant enjoyment of life, or as she calls it in French, “Joie de Vivre.” With over 30 years in the self growth industry, Edwige has certifications in yoga, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming, Qigong, weight management, substance abuse and alcoholism counseling, aerobic exercise, and behavior change. Renowned businesswoman, Barbara Corcoran, hired Edwige as a stress management officer for her real estate brokerage, The Corcoran Group, before joining Shark Tank. Edwige volunteers on the advisory board of MoviesMakingADifference, a 501c3 nonprofit, helping people with serious challenges such as sex trafficking, child labor, child marriage, and religious cults. A native of Cannes, France, Edwige now lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.