By Annelise Peterson
Anyone who grew up with a perfectly coiffed mother, or watched television ads for Barbizon modeling schools with longing or repulsion will recognize how beauty standards promote conformity. The early brainwashing of Walt Disney films, with storylines featuring girls so “nice” and beautiful they transform a beast, makes it hard to separate self-worth from appearance. With “skin as white as snow” and names like Belle, the appearance bias sets the stage for a multibillion-dollar industry of anti-aging products, devices, surgeries, supplements and injectables.
Without canceling Disney Classics like we have books by Dr. Seuss for gender and racial prejudice, how do we navigate a society that fetishes youth? While many cultures celebrate the aging process and venerate their elders, in the West, aging is a shameful experience. “The beauty industry is all about marketing and preying on vulnerable individuals,” says Melinda Anna Farina, founder of Beauty Brokers Inc. Taking a proactive approach to the aging process, Farina recommends devoting time in your 30s and early 40s to finding an exceptional functional medicine specialist and endocrinologist. “You must do a deep dive into your hormones and biological markers,” she says, “and know the details of your bodies, inside and out.” Practicing biohacking herself, 40-something Farina has yet to touch a filler—she’s holding out for a face-lift in her 50s.
“I recently saw a woman with all her wrinkles. Lot of life showed on her face. Lots of laughter. Lots of tragedy. Lots of everything, and I found her truly natural self—wrinkled and sunspots combined—to be absolutely stunning!” confesses Jane Hong Fernandez, CEO of ONDA, the highly curated clean beauty destination. “We are in the business of selling vetted, nontoxic and scientific serums, creams, makeup, hair products and supplements that enhance a woman’s essence. If a woman loves her freckles, then we support that! Intelligent women know who they are and respect that nature always wins in the end.”
Although an A-list roster of celebrity clients come to Park Avenue and the Hamptons for the latest in laser technology and strategic fillers, the aspirations of dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades reach far beyond her patient waiting room. “My plan is to reverse the degeneration of the skin and to restore it to its natural state at age of 25 with active ingredients in my formulas, and I believe I have achieved this goal,” she says. Yes, her dream is to replace the business of cosmetic dermatology with topical nontoxic treatments.
The great American animated filmmaker Walt Disney once said, “In Disneyland, clocks and watches will lose all meaning, for there is no present. There are only yesterday, tomorrow and the timeless land of fantasy.” Despite this dreamlike world of time travel that denies the present in support of a patriarchal, youth-obsessed and racially inequitable society, it is ultimately up to each individual to educate themselves and forge a more realistic
“I see tons of revisions, and have to fix so many unfortunate situations,” sighs Farina. “Do it right from the start.”