The Art of Aging Well

To the woman reading this, I hope you have a favorite photo of yourself that you enjoy looking at every now and then. This one is mine…80s hair and all. I was 39 years old when this Glamour Shot was taken. Desiring to look both “glamorous” and natural, I had the photographer do the shoot using my own hairstyle and makeup.

What I love the most about this photo is the confidence it exudes, my great smile and laugh lines.  The world was my oyster back then and I was truly in a happy place. This photo was taken during an important chapter in my life…my journey of self-discovery.  I was free at last from the confines of my childhood home, followed by years of a not-so-happy marriage. It was “me” time…time to figure out who I was as a woman apart from my roles as daughter, wife and mother.  Every woman owes it to herself to find out, especially between significant relationships.  

This blog post is about aging well, especially if you’re a woman.

I recently listened to podcast interviews with three iconic beauties, Cybill Shepherd, Bo Derek and Ali MacGraw. Each shared about remembering the moment when heads stopped turning and they knew they were no longer the “it” girl. Being an aging single myself, I can certainly relate. I too have felt invisible at times, especially when it comes to the opposite sex.  

These icons mutually agreed that natural beauty is a gift; not something to be earned, but something to thank our parents for.  We’re either born that way or we’re not.  The ladies also agreed that beauty can open doors for you, that people treat you differently when you’re thin and that men’s eyes tend to go towards younger women. They acknowledged that aging in America is tough because we live in a youth obsessed culture. 

Ali MacGraw, age 71, remembers the moment when she was number 299 out of 300 at an awards ceremony. She was also given the worst dress to wear that night and she felt like a loser.  Another memorable moment was when her director suggested she wear a turtleneck during filming.  It was then that she realized people were still fantasizing about 28 year old Ali McGraw when she starred in the hit movie “Love Story” opposite Ryan O’Neal.

The Turning Point

Age 40 seems to be the turning point for many women.  Many of us resist growing older because we fear losing our value. Unfortunately in our culture, many of us do. We also tend to allow how we believe others see us to determine how we feel about ourselves. Lying about our age isn’t good either because when we do, we deny precious moments of our lives.  There are other ways to feel valuable, BUT we still crave the physical.  Constantly focusing on our physical selves, however, stunts our growth in other areas.  

Now is a good time to hit the reset button, establish some realistic expectations and to cultivate gratitude. 

The first key to aging well is to take a good look in the mirror. Appreciate what we still have working for us and begin to focus on these things. Create our own unique style and develop connections that really matter. It’s time to become more fully aware of who we truly are.  As we practice these things, our external beauty may continue to fade, but our internal beauty never will. And the best part about aging well is, the people in our lives that matter most won’t even notice the subtle changes.

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