An open letter to 20- and 30- something women about BEAUTY
I observed this scene: A man took a picture of a grandmother and her 3 young grandsons. She said she didn’t like the way she was puckering her lips in the picture. He said not to worry; no one would be looking at her.
This reminded me of a conversation I had with my mother several months previously. She recently entered her 6th decade of life and noticed that she has started to feel invisible– like no one looks at her any more. And although I’m writing this in an attempt to reframe our notion of beauty as we see it in our culture, I do have to say, that my mother is a classically beautiful woman so for her to feel this way, is quite remarkable.
In our society, we often attach the word beautiful to people who appear youthful. In fact, I would venture to say that youth and beauty are often used synonymously.
Why is that?
Is it because we have learned to revere what we see happening in Hollywood- women entering their 4th and 5th decade (sometimes even sooner), trying to keep their jobs as actors or models by modifying their appearance? We place them on a pedestal because of their beauty or fame, then judge them for changing their nose or breasts or chin just because they are trying to remain relevant in their industry. But who am I to say what happens in Hollywood? I am only an observer.
What I can say is that we assign the term beauty to that which is youthful and when we stop looking young we find masks to cover up our age spots. If we have enough money, we cut, chop, or staple something new over top of the old. And this mentality is permeating our culture. It’s seeping into the minds of our girls (and boys) and it makes us feel old when we are only 33 (that’s how old I am by the way 🙂
I find this depressing, to think that I will soon be out of my “beautiful years”, that I too will become invisible and irrelevant, and that my best years are behind me. You see, I do not work in the movie industry but I do work in the health industry and we also often equate wellness with youth and beauty, so I get this struggle. We want to look at our doctor or wellness coach and see someone who has it all together which usually means judging a book by its cover.
But what if we reframe this distortion and rather see that our beauty does not fade with the passage of time, but actually evolves.
My favourite character in the Disney movie, Moana, is the grandmother- SHE IS BEAUTY. And it’s not just because her wrinkles tell a story (and all that cliché stuff). It’s because her wisdom radiates beauty.
What if we define beauty as wisdom? If we do so, we can se that instead of beauty fading as we get older, it actually grows. What a hopeful notion!
There is so much wisdom out there amongst the invisible if we just learn to open our eyes and heart to see it. I think of all the wisdom I’ve gleaned from my mother as I cared for and nurtured my son when he was a newborn. Her wisdom as a grandmother and mother IS beauty.
So I challenge you 20-, 30-, 40-something women to find a 60-, 70-, 80+ something woman in your life. Ask her questions. Find out what she knows. Cut it out and staple it to your heart. That is beauty.