Aging

It is quite clear that American society places medications as a great importance. Through medicalization and biomedicalization of different illnesses, some of which were not even though of to be illnesses long ago, the manufacturing of medications to relieve symptoms of illnesses or treat illnesses themselves have been drastically increasing. This increase in manufacturing and ways to use medications says a lot about our cultural values and ideologies. In American society we often hear the use of the phrase “time is money”. Often our daily lives are spent trying to get things done quickly and efficiently so we can either make money (by working) or so we can spend more time doing things we enjoy. Medications are often thought of as a quick fix to problems. For example if you had a headache at work you would take an aspirin to relieve the pain then go right back to work. These “quick” fixes fit into the lifestyle of many Americans and pharmaceutical companies have taken notice of that. Another value and ideology that can seen reflected is that of intelligence. As we saw in the video “Pill Poppers” Ritalin can be used in individuals who do not have ADHD to increase their awareness and concentration which makes them appear more intelligent.
I chose to look at anti-aging skin creams/ Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Aging B.B. Cream
Link: (skip to 0:09) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrt13crU9-8
Elements present in commercial:
The cultural values and ideologies in this commercial were along the lines of beauty and looking youthful. These commercials are geared to women who feel they are looking “older” than they wish to. The social role that is implied in the commercial is that the woman they have talking about the product is a mother. She is seen hugging and playing with a young girl (who would presumably be her daughter). This gives the viewer the idea mothers might be in need of this product and implying that woman who have had children feel like they are aging or aging prematurely. I found it quite interesting that even though it says anti-aging on the cream container there is no doctor or medical information given that says it truly fights the aging process of skin. It merely implies that by using the cream it will firm skin and reduce wrinkles. Many commercials that sell products for anti-aging say they “fight” wrinkles or reduce them. I think this can be traced back to the biomedical ideas on how an illness can be fought by the use of a medication/drug/pill. In this case though it is how a cream is fighting wrinkles to produce and anti-aging affect.

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  1. James Conwell says:

    I think that aging as a whole has an interesting place in American and Western society. Very often in this society do evaluate and associate someone’s health and worth with their look of youth. The look of youth is not only important to the association of health, but also helps people feel better. For example, a popular contention in American politics is to say that the retirement age should be raised, because being 65 is considered much younger than it once was.I think that as a result of this social pressure to be young at a traditionally elderly age, it causes many people to feel as though they need to look and feel younger than an elderly individual, because society expects elderly individuals are to more youthful, and ‘healthier; than they once were. As Conrad said “Psychiatric and medical diagnoses are the product of socio-historical circumstances and the
    claims-making of particular interest groups” (Conrad, 560). This shows that there are many cultural and historical circumstances that result in certain groups pushing for an agenda to count certain social issues as medical conditions. None guiltier for pushing a social belief for an agenda are the pharmaceutical companies that fuel the medicalization of certain social conditions or behaviors in order to improve profits, and thus have an economic reason to make aging an illness that needs a treatment. In the ad for a Garnier skin product that emphasized the features of being young, by mentioning the potential look of someone who is elderly as ugly or bad, and ultimately unhealthy per society’s expectations of health. I think that in Western culture, it is very easy to make common problems or abnormal behaviors into health issues, and it is often for economic reasons for the seller of the solution, which is feeding off of a social and historical norm.

    Peter Conrad and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47, no. 4 (November 2000): 559-582.

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