I looked in the mirror yesterday, and at 74, I smiled at what I saw.
I'm beginning to look so much like my mother and I think that's pretty darn good. She was graceful and lovely until the day she died at 94. She also had lots of grandmotherly wrinkles, yet I never once heard her say I wish I looked the way I used to look.
How refreshing her way of thinking was compared to so many of my contemporaries who are constantly moaning and groaning that they are no longer attractive. I don't buy that attitude at all. If you pronounce yourself not beautiful, then according to the dictionary you must be the exact opposite which is ugly. And, that is just not so!
Picture what those who think they are not beautiful's children and grandchildren must take away from Grandma’s messaging. To age is painful, to be more than a size six is embarrassing, and to have wrinkles is very, very unattractive.
In fact, a recent global study revealed that 60% of girls avoid certain activities because they feel bad about their looks. Imagine, a full 23% answered that they wouldn’t go to the beach or pool. So much fun is being missed because of what the media is feeding these lovely young women.
We, moms and grandmothers, need to combat that.
Shakespeare once said 'For everything there is a season.' And for me, this seventh decade is a time for deep reflection. It’s my opportunity to acknowledge the challenges I’ve faced along the way and the rewards I’ve been blessed with — children, grandchildren, health, a career I’ve enjoyed, and a circle of beloved friends.
Life’s blessings seldom come easily. Each of them involves the shedding of at least some tears and understandable wear and tear on our bodies. Yet it is the combination of these two that create the beautiful mature women that we all are capable of becoming.
I know that it’s not cosmetic surgery or botox that makes us beautiful. And it’s certainly not being skinny that makes us attractive. Truly it’s the inner peace that springs from within, that sense of our own strength, and the love that we are able to give and receive.
My mother never taught me how to be happy with who I am and how I look. She lived it herself and I learned it from her by osmosis. I hope that I am doing the same thing for my daughters and granddaughters.
However, with TV programming, social media, and entertainment magazines all advocating the allure of skinny thighs, and screaming the pluses of botox, I understand that I have a far harder job than my mom ever had with me in the fifties.
That’s why I was delighted to learn that Dove will be hosting a series of mom and daughter self-esteem workshops in October, all across Canada, designed to start a dialogue between mothers and daughters about self-esteem and beauty pressures.
As for me and my time for personal reflection, I am looking forward to the arrival of cooler weather. I have finally found a pair of jeans that fit (size 14 not size 4), a loose, white linen shirt that drapes perfectly over my larger tummy, and fabulous, red suede cowboy boots.
So what if I have wrinkles and my knees are sore?
I'll be smiling my 74-year-old smile and I dare anybody to say that I'm not beautiful.
What is your idea of beauty? I welcome your comments!
Visit our 'self-esteem resource page' for helpful info on how to talk with your daughter about real beauty and self-esteem.
We need you to be a part of the Dove mission to improve the self-esteem of over 15 million girls by 2015.