Liposuction, Botox, chemical peels, facelifts, there is no dearth of "anti-aging" products and surgeries in the US.
But strikingly more and more American women go for them not just to enhance their looks, but they want to look younger in order to be competitive enough in the market place, many observers point out.
Botox contains a tiny amount of the botulinum toxin. The toxin blocks the transmission of acetylcholine from the nerves to the muscle.
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which sends a message to the muscle telling it to contract or tense up. With the flow of acetylcholine blocked or significantly reduced, the muscle can no longer retract and it relaxes. As a result, the wrinkled areas smooth out and soften.
Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure in which excess fatty tissue is removed from a specific area of the body, such as the thighs or abdomen, by means of suction.
There is of course a craze for such surgeries in the US. But there is something more to the phenomenon than the hankering to look better, it seems.
"I suspect more midlife people are turning to anti-aging products for financial reasons. They want to look younger not to feel like an ad, but to pass as younger in the marketplaces of life," says Margaret Morganroth Gullette, a noted author.
The typical household headed by a 47-to-64-year-old is at risk in an insecure U.S. job market. In 2003, it was poorer in constant dollars than a similar household was in 1983 (despite women working!).
Women -- who spend more on "anti-aging" products -- are under particular pressures. Age discrimination complaints by women to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against discrimination have been rising, Gullette points out.
At their midlife income peak, 45 to 54, women may earn more than their mothers but they still earn only 76 percent of what men of the same age earn.
Those looking for employment at midlife can be out of work as much as a month more than the average young adult. When midlife unemployed do find jobs, they're usually at lower wages.
Middle ageism can be the final straw that weakens one's defenses against the rising pressures to not look your age. But anyone hoping to maximize her income by investing in expensive and hazardous products and procedures should think again.
Dyeing your hair or getting a facelift might help you find a job at midlife, but if your employer has decided to cut back on expensive employees no "rejuvenating" technique will prevail.
The cult of youth has grown more vicious in response to the downward pressure on employees' wages.
Those who submit to false advertising and the cult of youth make it harder for their friends and colleagues to resist. They put economic and consumerist pressures on those who might start hating wrinkles they could otherwise accept.
The health gap between rich and poor is already wide enough. It's measured by access to health care, leisure, healthful food and freedom from stress. These disparities should be fought, not exaggerated, sociologists urge.
They also add, "Natural facial irregularities, lines and spots are perfectly compatible with charm, expressiveness, good grooming or whatever is meant by beauty. Gray or white hair looks better on us as we move into our middle years and beyond. (Dye-jobs often clash with our skin tones)."