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A will to youth: The woman’s anti-aging elixir


  • Smirnova, Michelle Hannah


The logic and cultural myths that buttress the cosmeceutical industry construct the older woman as a victim of old age, part of an “at-risk” population who must monitor, treat and prevent any markers of old age. A content and discourse analysis of 124 advertisements from the US More magazine between 1998 and 2008, revealed three major themes working together to produce this civic duty: (1) the inclusion of scientific and medical authorities in order to define the cosmeceutical as a ‘drug’ curing a disease, (2) descriptions of the similarities (and differences) between the abilities of cosmeceuticals and cosmetic surgery to restore one’s youth, and (3) the logic equating youth with beauty, femininity and power and older age with the absence of these qualities. Together these intersecting logics produce the “will to youth”—the imperative of the aging woman to promote her youthful appearance by any and all available means. Further, by using images and references to fantasies and traditional fairytales, cosmeceutical advertisements both promise and normalize expectations of eternal youth of the aging woman.

Suggested Citation

  • Smirnova, Michelle Hannah, 2012. "A will to youth: The woman’s anti-aging elixir," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(7), pages 1236-1243.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:7:p:1236-1243 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.02.061

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeho Lee, 2003. "Innovation and Strategic Divergence: An Empirical Study of the U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry from 1920 to 1960," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(2), pages 143-159, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eaves, Emery R., 2015. "“Just Advil”: Harm reduction and identity construction in the consumption of over-the-counter medication for chronic pain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 147-154.


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