I made the mistake of looking at myself in the mirror during aerobics class. Chicken wings, muffin top, apple-shape. Sounds like a smorgasbord, instead of the effects of one too many.
My self-esteem is as good as the next woman, but sometimes I can’t help but cringe when I look in the mirror. We always hear about the unrealistic expectations of beauty we have that are perpetuated by the media. I have been no exception to that influence, as you’ve probably figured. It was much worse for me when I was a teen and young woman than it is now. I know better, now that I am in my ripe middle age, that these supermodel images are not reasonable standards. That doesn’t stop me from going there sometimes.
Wrinkles, grey hair, double chin, cellulite.
Young men and women these days still seem to have especially high standards for their appearance. I guess when you’re at your physical peak, it’s natural to have really high expectations. The problem is, those expectations too easily become unrealistic. So when young people should most be enjoying their Aphrodite- and Adonis-ness, they are spending their time feeling inadequate. What a waste of an opportunity to be vain.
“Youth is wasted on the young” – Mark Twain.
Therefore, I wish to tell all the young people I meet to enjoy their youthful beauty while it last. Be proud of it! Wear fun, flirty clothes while you have the figure and the youth. Enjoy your strength, your good health, your beautiful, full head of hair and skin. All too soon, it’ll be gone and you’re going to long for that level of imperfection.
Sagging, age spots, dry hair.
As I was bemoaning my lost youthful perfection when I was in my 30’s, it dawned on me that I was making the same mistake I made when I was in my 20’s. I realized that I would never be satisfied with my appearance if all I did was compare myself to some unreasonable standard (supermodel, 20 year old). Instead, I should have considered how I was looking pretty good for my age, or even better, compared to a 40 year old. To only focus on my shortcomings ensured a constant feeling of inadequacy.
I can make a better choice.
Wisdom, smile lines, inner beauty.
We don’t have to be slaves to our and society’s unrealistic expectations. We don’t have to constantly focus on what we lack or how we don’t measure up. We can choose our own perspective and our own reality, and focus instead on what we have to offer. I now choose to see myself as looking pretty good for a 40-something, and really fantastic compared to a 50-something. Thirty-somethings are for 20-somethings to compare themselves to; those beautiful creatures not on my yardstick. I choose as my role models the gorgeous older female celebrities who have chosen to stay real: Jamie Lee Curtis and Susan Sarandon.
Confidence, poise, character, style.
There are advantages to showing my age. My grey hair is my platinum highlights, and they don’t cost me $75 at the salon. I can afford $75 at the salon if I choose to make a change, and I now have the confidence to dye my hair purple if I want. I don’t feel the need to dress or act to conform to some external standard. I understand that beauty comes from within and feel confident enough to share that part of myself with others. I know to look for that inner beauty in others as well. The reality of my chicken wings? Well, maybe I should stay in the back row of the aerobics class.