Does our perception of beauty change as we age?
I remember when the definition of female beauty was tall with long blond hair and blue eyes. Being short, brunette and brown eyed, I wasn’t even on the playing field. Then, multiculturalism became not only acceptable but set the standard of beauty. Black and white, and everything in between became the norm. But I was still short and built like a Shetland pony.
It’s pretty easy to see the beauty of a twenty year old of any size or shape.
Well then came the cougar. The hot older woman that was confident enough to date or marry a younger man. A woman that was confident in her looks and sexuality. Of course they were the ripe old age of 30 or even 40. Not what I would call old. Think Angelina Jolie. The marks of age still sit lightly on a 40 years old face and body. Trust me, you don’t know how great those middle years are until you hit the 50 and 60 decades.
Since I never considered myself beautiful I didn’t put a lot of weight to my looks for my self esteem. My brain and skills were important to my accomplishments. Relationships, wisdom, achieving goals occupied my time and thoughts. While friends discussed Botox and how to best cover gray and wrinkles, I charged blithely on my way.
Then I got old and all of a sudden my mom was all over my face. And not the young hot sexy mom that I only knew from photos. The older mom. The grandmother mom. Holy cow how did this happen so fast?
I don’t feel like the grownup in the room. At worst I’m middle aged, with a huge amount of time in front of me to gradually grow old. And while that may be the way I feel, the reality is there is less time in front of me than behind me. My face and body show it as the aging process seems to accelerate at the speed of light.
Its a good thing my self esteem was not tied to my looks because I would be in a bad place right now.
So this aging thing. When you join the seniors club you have some choices to make. You can fight the process of aging with exercise, lotions and potions, proper nutrition and keeping a healthy weight. You can accept those lines and wrinkles, age spots and sagging as marks of your journey and time on earth
You can up the game with Botox and use plastic surgery to change those lines and wrinkles. Breast lifts and tummy tucks are popular with the senior crowd.
I choose to color my hair. As my mother did her entire life. I’m just not ready for the process of growing out grey hair and I’m not interested at all in seeing what I look like grey. I keep it long because I like being able to put it in a pony tail under a ball cap. I’ll be 80 years old with colored hair and a pony tail. And I won’t give a shit what anyone thinks.
But I will tell you this. I’m very thankful for lines and wrinkles and age spots. They me that my mom is a part of me even though she is gone. They remind me that I am fortunate to be in my 6th decade. I’m not going to hide those lines around my eyes with sunglasses in every photo. I’m going to wear the clothes I like, the colors I like without regard to what is deemed acceptable. I’ll wear leggings, short skirts and boho clothes as long as I feel good in them.
Our clothing is a reflection of who we think we are. I’m not an old lady and I’ll be damned if I’ll dress like one.
Next up is some ink. I have a wonderful tattoo artist that I will be seeing in May. I have one tattoo on my shoulder, a lily with the kanji for Heart intwined in the design. My sister has the same one, it is something that links us together. This new tattoo will be a shoulder to half sleeve story that I’ve been mulling over for years. It will keep the lily but add symbols that reference my mom, Katherine and Keely. My haven of trees and mountains that feed my spirit. My equine soul mates Maestro and Bali.
I realize that there will be judgment. Some applause and some disapproval. What’s cool is that I am at a place where I don’t care. My body. My life. I’m not going to take this age thing lying down. This is my way of fighting it.
There is a freedom to this process I think. If you are a rebel at heart as I am, a think outside the box kind of person that has a bit of disdain for conformity then aging can be a wonderful experience. As with everything else, it really comes down to understanding who you really are and what is important to you. I don’t want peace and to rest. Well I do, but not all the time. Some do and I absolutely get that. I’m still hungry for change and adventure. I still want to explore the world and we will be doing that.
I’m aware that this is a last chapter. In spite of both shoulders and hips being replaced , I’m fortunate to have a body that will still allow me to do what I want to do (thank you keto, horseback riding ,yoga and pickleball!). Now that we are in Pagosa I can explore skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boards. There is no end to the hiking trails in the area.
I have a husband that looks and acts like a forty year old. My partner in crime and I love to explore and find adventure and challenges. We will be doing a lot of travel. I realize how incredibly fortunate I am that I not only have someone to do that with me but we also have the resources to do rather than dream.
As I talk with women in my age group I hear their frustration and shame about aging. The bemoaning of wrinkles and a few extra pounds. I wish I could tell them how beautiful they are to me. How their joy in life and determination to live and experience life fill me with admiration. How much their life experiences and wisdom help me as well as others.
There is a spirit, an energy, a life force, a soul in all of us. The body we wear is a shell. The beauty of my friends is not on the surface, it’s in the love and caring and wisdom they bring to the world.
That is beauty.