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Beauty Through the Ages

Aging Gracefully

July 26, 2021

Pressure Everywhere

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

attractive.

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.

New Priorities

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

often disappoints.

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

pain.

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.

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Aging gracefully

relationships

spirituality

mental health

Categories

Reading suggestions

Embracing Our Age

 Spiritual Practices

Healing From Within