Recently I posted on this blog about how much I’m enjoying being in my 50’s. I was quite pleased with the finished article, and thought I had made the points quite well. However, a couple of days later, a reader on Facebook commented that surely, given the choice, I would prefer to be back in my 30’s. Well, perhaps I would, but only if I could know then, what I know now.
Don’t misunderstand me, I get her point. It’s not easy waking up daily to new wrinkles and crevices in your face, that some days look as if they have been forged by a twin lawnmower. I look at pictures of myself in my 20’s now, and wonder why on earth I wasn’t more confident and assured, looking as I did then. Of course, the irony is that I have the confidence and assurance now … and also the lines, bags and cellulite that come with being older.
Yes, I am happier than I have ever been in my life before, but I can’t pretend I haven’t fantasised about the possibilities of facelifts and liposuction. I never would of course, I’m far too much of a scaredy-cat to let anyone near my face or body with a scalpel (have you seen some of those celebrity before and after pictures), but I do recall with horror, memories of dousing myself in coconut oil (not an SPF in sight) in the 1980’s, in order to achieve the deepest tan possible. And sunbeds, let’s not even go there. Though I did. Often. These days, I slap factor 50 on my face, even to just pop up the post office, though horses, bolting and barn doors spring to mind.
So, although I am genuinely positive about being 50, this decade still brings it’s challenges. I’m terrified of trying to look as if I am trying to be 20, but at the same time I don’t want to ‘abandon all hope all ye who enter here’ and give in to grey hair, sensible shoes and elasticated waistbands.
But who am I to judge? Surely if women want to spend thousands on face lifts and liposuction, then that is their choice. As it is the choice for women who have no interest in taking special care with clothes or makeup and allow their grey hair to shine through. (In fact, I always think the latter is very cool, certainly on some women.)
What is beauty anyway? Good looks can take you a long way in life, but in these days of quick fix, good looks can now be bought, if you can afford the price tag. But is artificial beauty as beautiful? Is beauty purely on the outside, or can we really appreciate the beauty that comes from within? There is also the fact that some people are attractive, but not deemed ‘beautiful’. The whole concept is obviously very subjective.
Being beautiful will certainly bring its own challenges: If we have ever been deemed “beautiful,” how do we feel when looks fade as we get older? The media of course informs us that we need to look a certain way to be beautiful, but then berates us for not being happy as we are. We are told off for not caring enough …. or caring too much about our looks …and let’s not forget the anti-ageing products industry that makes enough profit to fund a small continent.
I don’t consider myself to be beautiful but I have felt beautiful at different times in my life, and probably the most beautiful I have ever felt, was on my wedding day in December 2011. Even though I was 45 at the time. Glowing? You bet!
“I think your whole life shows in your face, and you should be proud of that” ~ Lauren Bacall
I am convinced that real beauty comes from confidence and healthy self esteem. If you aspire to that theory, our beauty does not leave us as we age, but it changes and grows as we get older, and we are able to redefine our ideas around what constitutes ‘beauty.’
Is wanting to be beautiful wrong? Somehow anti-feminist? Are we accepting some outdated notion of what it is to be beautiful? What does twenty first century beauty look like anyhow? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive, as long as we don’t let society define for us what beauty looks like. Beauty should be something that is defined by the self on their own terms, as it is as complex a notion as our individuality.
One of my heroines in life is Helen Mirren. She is amazing! An incredible actor, as well as being a stunningly beautiful woman and a fantastic role model for women everywhere. She is 73 and still looks ravishing. I hope I can look even half as attractive when I’m in my 70’s.
Helen has always been furiously dismissive in a very vocal way about ageing and the acting industry. Even as a young actress, she famously put Michael Parkinson in his place when he dared to suggest that her early success was mostly down to her assets. The ones down her top. Helen talks about beauty and anti ageing in a recent article in Grazia magazine. She says that she doesn’t like the word ‘beauty’ as it is an exclusive term, and stops people who don’t consider themselves beautiful, “feeling fabulous.”
I asked Andy who was the most beautiful woman in the world. He said, “What, after you darling?” (I have him well trained), and then, more seriously “It’s a difficult one, as different people are beautiful for different reasons.” And to think I thought he was going to say “Kylie!” with no hesitation at all.
Beauty is within all of us. A facelift may hold back the jowls for a couple of years, but your inner glow is what makes you truly shine. That glow of positivity, self assurance, and a sense of knowing who you are (and the ensuing power that comes from that), comes with age. Ergo, with ageing comes beauty!
There is also beauty to be found in offering compassion and kindness, and there is a even a theory that being kind slows the ageing process. That might sound crazy, but there is some research showing that regular acts of kindness actually lowers the inflammation rate in the body. Which of course may help reduce signs of ageing. Fantastic!
However beautiful you feel, I urge you to embrace ALL of your attributes and appreciate that those that fade quickly are not as important as those that will shine through however old you are. And certainly long after you receive your telegram from the queen. ❤️
“Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful”. ~ Zoe Kravitz