Huffpost Women
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Shannon Bradley-Colleary Headshot

When Is the Desire to Be Beautiful Too Much?

Posted: Updated:

As a 46-year old woman, I frequently blog about beauty and body image. I am not a role model. On the one hand, I've done a series of fine art nude photgraphs and posts about loving my body now, when it's 20 pounds heavier than when I got married. On the other hand, I've had Lasik eye surgery, a brow-lift/blepharectomy, laser hair removal and now a non-surgical skin tightening ultra-sound. What does this say about me?

That I'm vain? A hypocrite? A middle-aged woman with too much time on her hands? A privileged narcissist?

I don't think it's ever that simple. I'm also a community-builder, a school volunteer, a full-time mother/wife/daughter/granddaughter/sister, a journalist, a screenwriter, an AYSO soccer referee (God help me and my knee socks), a writing coach, an empath and a good friend.

I want to be beautiful. It gives me a spring in my step. It makes me feel saucy and smart and invincible. I put makeup on every day. I wear clothes that flatter. I paint my toenails and do my hair every four days (that's when I start to smell like a 6-year old boy) and I work out three times a week. I also care about public education, the Arab Spring, why we failed in Iraq, why, in killing off Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire killed off the heart of the show.

I think every person should do whatever they like to make themselves feel beautiful. Lose weight. Don't lose weight. Have a face lift. Wear high heels. Wear a knowing smile. Let your armpit hair grow out. Wear braids. Kiss your husband every day. Inflate your lips. Have breast reconstruction. Wear a bra. Or don't. We are an amalgam of personality, a dichotomy of priorities, and how we care for ourselves reflects that.

I plan to try not to begrudge anyone for doing whatever makes them feel beautiful. I've judged, oh how I've judged. But as I age, I'm humbled by the way that my body keeps me in the temporal world and this human experience. I'm liberated, too. I was an insecure twenty-something and am now I'm a take-no-prisoners forty-something who wants to squeeze all the juice out of life.

There's a gorgeous video out and about now called Look Good, Feel Better, which is a PSA for cancer patients. t's a meditation on appearance suggesting that sometimes we must work from the outside in to feel good. I feel lucky at my age to finally catch beauty by the tail and have fun with it, because there's no knowing what tomorrow may bring.