Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder, a reflection of how the world views us.
But pretty is something that comes from within. It's how we feel about how we look at any given moment.
Every day, it seems, there are new articles and reports published about how people, especially women, "deal with" getting older. Occasionally the articles, and the comments, are a tad too critical of women who try to look attractive and better -- which can sometimes make them feel younger -- as they age.
News flash: Embracing your age and wanting to feel pretty are not mutually exclusive.
I've chosen a path of healthy eating and fitness to help me feel pretty. After I've gone for a 4 or 5 mile run, cheeks glowing and feeling strong and powerful... I always hope I'll run into my husband (or Johnny Depp) as I'm coming out of Central Park. Or, I'll get my nails polished a vivid shade of blue. I've been known to break out in "I Feel Pretty" (from West Side Story) when a particularly lively shade of pink from Kevin Aucoin is dabbed on my lips.
Recently, I heard one of my favorite Jefferson Airplane songs -- "Pretty As You Feel" -- on the radio (yes, I listen to the radio), and I was struck by the simple truth of its lyrics:
You're only pretty as you feel
Only pretty as you feel inside
You're only pretty as you feel
Just as pretty as you feel inside
I've always loved this song, but even more so now, as it mirrors my heartfelt philosophy that 1) we are all beautiful no matter what our age, shape or size and 2) the prettiest women are those who feel pretty. And even though feeling pretty comes from within, some days we may need a little lift from the "outside" to help us get there: a new hair 'do' perhaps, or a some pinkish blush on the apples of our cheeks to brighten our faces, or something as simple as wearing a gorgeously sexy bra.
It can be excruciatingly hard to embrace that philosophy, though, when we're constantly bombarded by images of rail-thin young models and actresses who do not reflect the reality of most women -- and especially women over 50. It can challenge our self-esteem when we're flipping through magazines geared (allegedly) to us and see models who are 10 or 20 years younger. It's hard to relate. And it can be very hard to feel pretty.
Feeling pretty at any age is one of the most positive feelings a woman can have. This can be a confusing point for women who often equate "pretty" with "youth," as in "I'm too old to be pretty," or "I used to be pretty, but not any longer," or "I must be invisible now that I'm older because I'm not as pretty as I once was." Of all the words that are used to describe how a woman looks, "pretty" is the one that is most closely connected to an image of youth. And that's something we need to change. Pretty is something every woman of any age has a right to feel.
Here's a simple thing that every woman should embrace: Every day, find a reason to feel pretty. There's nothing wrong, and everything right, with wanting to feel pretty. Feeling pretty makes you feel good, sexy, positive, light and just... happy. And it truly doesn't take much to get there, as long as you don't listen to all the noise.
Pretty should be all about fun, too, which is why I will be at the kick-off of the 2012 FOF 'Beauty Bash' in New York City on Saturday, September 29th, an annual 'beauty inside and out' event where leading experts in fashion, makeup, hair, skin care, health and much more will show us all the ways we can look and feel pretty, no matter what our age.
Some of the prettiest women I've ever seen were the models featured in the Advanced Style book and blog by Ari Cohen. A few of them are almost 90 and they exude a sense of style that makes them feel very pretty indeed. They'll be at the FOF Beauty Bash showing off their own unique looks wearing clothes from some very cool designers, like MarlaWynne. Essie Weingarten (founder of 'Essie' nail polish (I have on her Lapiz of Luxury right now) and someone who sets color trends like no one else in the business) will be at the Beauty Bash demonstrating how pretty nails can make you feel pretty... easily and expensively.
Whatever it takes to get you there, feeling pretty is our right. Yes, we're all beautiful. Every single one of us. But even the most ravishing woman with gobs of confidence can sometimes wake up and just not feel it. That's when a little lift on the outside -- from a new haircut, or color, or shoes, or skin cream, or lipstick, or whatever -- can lift the inside, too. Pretty powerful stuff.
See you at the Bash! (Click here for all the details).
Follow Barbara Hannah Grufferman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BGrufferman