Photo Credit: CLBuchanan Photography
Ugh, aging. It’s a process in life that leaves me with many serious questions. Why are the backs of my arms so jiggly? What is with this belly I’ve grown? Why will these bags under my eyes not go away? What is with this one long hair growing from my neck? And nose hair?! What in heavens is with this nose hair that has suddenly decided it would like length in its life? I tell you, if I get hair out of my ears soon, I’m packing for the seniors’ home.
I kid, but only about the seniors’ home.
The rest, well the rest is just reality and when those first little crow’s feet started to take hold on my face, I knew I had two paths I could take—laughter or tears. Since tears make my eyes puffy, I figured laughter was best. I was right, because frankly if you can’t laugh at your breasts heading south before you do, what can you laugh at?
Acceptance of aging was modeled for me by the best role-model I could have had, my mother. My mother is and has been one of the most beautiful people I know. She does not grow bitter over age but rather embraces each passing year like she’s been handed the best gift ever. She is timeless, beautiful, dignified.
I often wonder just what it is about her that makes her so stunning in my eyes? Is it her eyes? Her hair? Her lips? Her figure? And in the end I realized it’s none of the physical things we are so often told make a person beautiful. My mom is beautiful because she refuses to let age define her. I have never heard my mother complain about getting older. She never once made a comment about her graying hair or aging skin to me. It’s for this reason that I look at pictures of her from thirty years ago and think she was just as beautiful then as she is now.
I want my daughters to find their own way to accept aging. They may choose my mother’s path of quiet dignity or my way of cracking jokes about it. Either way, it’s important that they see neither me or my mother are letting age define our beauty.
Photo Credit: CLBuchanan Photography
The reality is that I cannot turn back the clock. I can and do try lotions and potions to try and slow it down but I know I will never have my 20-year-old body back and I want my girls to know that acceptance of your age is just as important as loving yourself. In fact, I would tell them that they actually go hand in hand. While it is obviously easier for these two things to live in harmony at 18, the trick is having them co-exist as the years go by. Acceptance of age and self-love work together in the most remarkable way. So remarkable that I believe I am more beautiful today than I was 20 years ago, although I’m a liar if I don’t admit to missing my flat stomach, but I digress.
Why do I believe myself to be more beautiful now? It’s because I have a confidence that can only be achieved through aging. I have gained wisdom that I could not have had 20, even 10 years ago. I understand the fragility of life more than ever before which makes me embrace each day as a gift. I have gained empathy and lost my tolerance for people who suck the life out of me. It is a wonderful combination of all these things that make me more beautiful today and not a single one is a physical attribute. Huh, how about that?
Dove asked me to ask my daughters to shoot a video and find out what they think makes me beautiful. I’ll admit to being curious (and a little scared) about this. Will it be the physical or the character traits that defines my beauty to them? With 72% of girls feeling pressured to be beautiful, I hope that the lessons their grandmother and I model have a stronger impact than what the magazines and billboards are saying.
And there you have it. Not one mention of my razor sharp wit. Do these kids really even know me? Well, at least they said I was kind and clearly one kid is a total sap like her mother. All that being said, neither mentioned my hair colour, or my eyes, or my weight. I guess those messages are getting through after all.
(For the record, I did not coach my girls on this. I truly wanted an honest reaction. This was done in one take for each girl.)
“Do not regret aging. It is a privilege denied to many.”
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