This misrepresentation went so far that the Food and Drug Administration finally took action. Ten years ago, too, as a result of the cosmetic companies’ ad pressure, women’s magazines rarely featured the faces of women older than twenty-five, and you seldom saw the least hint of a wrinkle. On another front, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on the diet-program hype of the nineties. They alerted diet programs that they must not misleadingly promise permanent weight loss results without sufficient studies to back up those results.
Consumer advocacy even took a weight-loss pill called Fen-Phen off the market for causing heart-related fatalities. Consumer and FDA action saved women money, but it also sparked a new, more stress-free era for women worried about their age. Now, since ad pressure is driven less by anti-aging creams than by the new spending power of older women, the fastest-growing segment of affluent consumers in the nation, women’s magazines, TV shows, and even Hollywood filmmakers have discovered that there is a plethora, not a dearth, of fabulously charismatic women over forty to glamorize.
Because of the aging of our role models, women of any age seem somewhat less paralyzed about the dreaded approach of their fortieth or even fiftieth birthdays, and it is no coincidence that women today by no means equate aging with the immediate erasure of their identities as vibrant, sensual women, worthy of love and high style. The influence and prevalence of “plus-size” models in the fashion and cosmetic industry is growing rapidly.