Last week I went to a dermatologist to have a mole on my face checked. After she was done examining the mole and explaining everything, she looked at me and pointed out that my furrows were starting to get more pronounced, that I had melasma on my forehead, and that my pores were too big. She went on to talk about the merits of several beauty treatments and anti-aging creams that would make me look fifteen years younger, guaranteed.
I am 47, by the way. She is 44. I know this because she and my sister went to school together. Turns out being in the same age bracket may mean that you both know what aging looks like, but you will not necessarily have the same views about it.
I smiled the whole time, processing in my head this very obvious difference in how we perceive beauty. But I understand where she’s coming from. She’s in the beauty industry after all.
I politely refused treatment; I just jokingly said that I would leave the fate of my face up to Mother Nature.
Pro-aging is in, anti-aging is out.
You see, I no longer have this massive fear of getting old. I no longer believe that aging gracefully means that I need to hold on the attributes of youth for as long and by any means possible. Acceptance is way more beautiful that fighting so hard to delay something inevitable.
I belong to a growing number of women who embrace aging. We live our lives acknowledging that getting older is a fact of life. We understand that there are many transitions in life and we just go through them. For us, the idea of being in the “prime of your life” is ridiculous. Why limit your greatness within a certain age range when you know that you can be your best at any age?
Being “pro-aging” means being satisfied with your own aging. You are no longer interested in looking younger but want to look healthy instead, so you adopt healthier behaviors and you feel in control of how you age.
At 47, I can say that I have never been happier. I admit that looking in the mirror is not as pleasing as it once was. The young me has been replaced by images of this heavier, older woman with wrinkles, gray hairs, and sagging skin. Yet I know that I have reached an important stage in life. Youth is gone. But wisdom is slowly creeping in.
The Gifts of Aging.
As anyone over the age of 40 knows, getting older involves anything from grey hairs, to sagging breasts, to muffin tops, to nose hairs. The challenges of getting older are very real, sometimes amusing and mostly inevitable, but this stage of life comes with its own very clear blessings.
- Perspective – I now know what really counts in life, what lasts and what doesn’t. I’m starting to realize that money can’t buy happiness, that friendship and love are important and shouldn’t be taken for granted, that love is always better than hate. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have relaxed more and fretted less. At the same time, I am coming to know that I do not know everything. Now that I am blessed with insight, I know the real score.
- Freedom – Being older has allowed me to let go of society’s grip on me. I now understand that I don’t have to prove anything to the world. The expectation and the competition are gone. The need for approval has given way to the need to enjoy life on my own terms. I can now do what I like, say what I like and wear what I like without having to worry about what other people say. I can even choose not to do or say anything at all. There is something about getting older that lets you express who you really are.
- Time – Now that my days no longer mean juggling between work and changing diapers and driving kids to and from school, I now have ability to really be in the here and now and enjoy it. “Me time” is no longer something that I feel guilty about.
- Grace – I used to be a worrier, an over-thinker. Now that I am older and have learned to accept things as they come, I tend not to sweat the small stuff as much, and I handle the big stuff with more grace.
- Newness – I have the world at my feet again. With the children leading their own lives, I now have the chance to make choices in life that I did not have before. I can decide where to go, how to live, and what to do with my one precious life. I can do things that I have put aside for years, like go backpacking. I wake up every morning with the realization that life is not over but beginning in a completely new way.
Youth is filled with its own important lessons. Youth is wonderful, but so is experience. Experiencing life fully and wholly with all its up and downs is a beautiful thing.
Both humility and power come with the deepening wrinkles, the graying hair, thickening waist, and the sagging breasts. I have learned to relax. I have learned to confidently be at the sidelines and just listen. I have learned to laugh with abandon. And I have learned to love myself – furrows and melasma and pores and all.
I have never been more sure about not following the dermatologist’s advice. I’ll just get myself some fabulous sunglasses and spend more time focusing on the beauty of life rather than my face. After all, I know that the best beauty treatments in the world are confidence, a sense of peace and a big smile on your face.
And to me, women with opinions, stories, and lots of incredible life experiences to tell are all beautiful regardless of age and how they look. That’s the beauty of pro-aging.