Just look around…it’s everywhere. On your television, the intranet,
billboards, magazines covers and quite possibly standing next to you.
It’s the image of a youthful, beautiful woman. She is used to getting your
attention, seeking your adoration, and eliciting feelings of hope. Everything
about her is perceived to be fleeting, precious, and powerful.
If done properly, just the sheer presence of her generate massive sales
of a product, an all-consuming need for a service or creates an image of
a better, happier life.
One of my favorite sayings has always been “ Beauty is wasted on the
young”. And, it’s very true. As a child and teenager, I was considered to
be on the pretty side, but I was completely unaware of it and its power
in the world. My parents were not to type to dote on my looks, gifts, or
abilities. As a matter of fact, people would tell my mother what a
beautiful little girl she had. As soon as they walked away, she would lean
down look me in the eye and tell me that it wasn’t looks that mattered
but what was on the inside. I am sure she meant well by this but it
started what would become a lifelong issue of being uncomfortable
accepting compliments from strangers.
The Beautiful Years
For children, there is no threat of them becoming conceited, beauty
obsessed, or vain. This type of attention can only foster self-esteem and a
feeling of acceptance. The problem if any, kicks in at about puberty age.
Then this can become an issue regarding the opposite sex, garner
unwanted sexual attention, and ultimately alienation from one’s peers.
Like everything in life, there is a good and bad side to the gift of being
As young women during the childbearing years, good looks are helpful
for the process of attracting a mate. The main ingredient needed in our
primeval urge to procreate. I know that there are other methods today
but I am talking about the old school method. It is at this time, that many
would consider us to be in our most attractive stage in life. This is
probably not a coincidence but orchestrated by the universe to ensure
the propagation of our species on the planet.
This stage is followed by what I refer to as the nurturing years. Most
women at this time focus primarily on raising their children,
maintaining their romantic relationships, or the delicate balance of career
and home life. Any way you slice it, it is all-consuming and one’s
appearance is not high on the to-do list. Our appearance is quite often
ignored and just another thing that we hope to get back to someday.
That someday is our future selves who have the time and gumption to
reappear in the world as attractive, desirable, and competent. Instead,
we are resigned to simply not look frumpy, like a Mom, and most
importantly not like our mothers.
Eventually, there is a glimmer of hope. Including getting back into your
pre-natal clothes, having more than 10 minutes of mirror time, and the
actual excitement of feeling pretty and sexy. We do not know whom for
exactly but as we come out of the “family first fog” we can see that there
is still a big world out there and we can attempt to impress it. Women
band together at this time through their children and form lifelong
friendships. Gradually, due to more socializing through school events or
new friendships we start to care about our appearance again. We are
starting to reemerge and surprise ourselves and sometimes our
husbands that we still got it.
More Work=fewer results
Next comes the realization of the evolution of aging. It is at this time that
we realize that the preparation of getting ready to impress takes longer
than it used to and doesn’t yield nearly the same results. Styles of
clothes that you wore for years and loved no longer seem to work. You
might wiggle back into your super skinny jeans but the feeling of
accomplishment is squelched by the reflection that your shape has
changed and not in a good way. Always had a small waist? What
waist…it apparently has thickened to the point of non-existence. Those
high perky boobs have been deflated and look as though they spent the
last 15 years in a supergravity chamber. The hand-eye coordination
seems to be off. The hair styling tools seem cumbersome and don’t
garnish great results. Make-up application is tedious and often not
worth the time and effort. But we must trudge on and in doing so have
to admit that what once was effortless has morphed into a process that
There is a little sweet spot that comes along. It is at the age when we are
empty nesters or have gotten our children fully launched into the world.
Or the focus on your career is waining or at least at a good, steady pace.
It is at this time that we can truly turn our attention to ourselves. We
have the time, resources, and money to do so. Upon starting this process,
one of the first things you will realize is the cost of prolonged beauty. It
is not for the faint of heart or pocketbook. I have no doubt that in 20
years anti-aging procedures will be less evasive, painful, or expensive.
This should bode very well for our daughters but in the meantime,
trying to stay more youthful-looking requires lots of needle pricks,
discomfort, and potentially thousands of dollars. If you sit in
a dermatologist’s office waiting room, you will see yet again images of
young women selling anti-aging products and procedures. You would
think that this would be the one place that images of women of age
would be the preferred look but it’s not. Hopefully, that will be another
thing that is different in 20 years.
Coming to terms with it all
Around our 50’s the aging process seems to kick into a higher gear. The
slippery slope down seems to get a boost and not for the good. Skin
becomes unquenchable, weight has a newfound tenacity to hang on and
fine lines and wrinkles aren’t so fine anymore. This ushers in the stage
that I call “The Long Dry and Gastric Spell”. Simply put everything starts
to dry up and our digestive system goes on strike. Many women
complain of vaginal dryness at about this time as if the dryness going on
the outside isn’t bad enough. The sudden necessity of applying lotion,
creams, or oil all over your body to offset the reptilian skin that is
starting to take over. The application of facial moisturizer doesn’t seem to
be cutting it anymore. Constant bloat and weight gain even on days
when you consume nothing more than 3 apples and a carrot. And a good
night’s sleep is a thing of the past only to be replaced by 4 trips to the
bathroom followed by your new natural alarm… stomach bloat and
The Passing of the Beauty Baton
I would like to think that the next phase is the “ I Don’t Care Anymore”
phase. The time when not getting second glances anymore when out in
public is a welcomed refuge. Getting ready to go out and about no longer
has the power to cause anxiety or concern. We have finally come to a
place that it simply doesn’t matter anymore. We do not judge ourselves
on our appearance and perhaps we are more consumed with simply
being alive and in good health. That has become enough.
We sit back on our wisdom perches and let the young generation of
women assume the role. We wish them well on their journey of being
noticed, appreciated, and desired. It is their time to uphold the standard
of beauty and youth. We relinquish the power and bestow upon them
the responsibility of handling this phase with pride and grace. I hope
that we have embraced all stages of beauty and in our own way made
the process our own. For all the young women behind us, I hope they
know that we paved the way, made the most of this natural process, and
improved where we could. We have not lost our beauty we simply
exchanged it for wisdom, acceptance, and a new kind of self-love.