Your 50s are a time to reevaluate a lot of things, but for women, one of those things is inevitably appearance. You don't look the way you did ten years ago, and I've realized I wouldn't want to. To look the same for me would indicate that I had lived the same for years and years. It would erase some of the souvenirs of my careers, marriage(s), children and health challenges. Looking at those events as a path to beauty -- rather than things I needed to be beautiful to attain -- has totally changed the way I think about appearances. Here's what I know about beauty now (and wish I had all along):
You don't regret the fun, so don't regret the wrinkles.
We shake our heads when we recall our choices in our 20's; basking in the sun, partying all night at college, eating fast food. We were oblivious to the effects of sun damage and lifestyle stress. Yet, we do not lament the fact we did not use sunscreen or ate tacos at 2am. Instead, we pat ourselves on the back for being free spirited and carefree and having had those experiences before we were tied to a mortgage and demanding career and/or family responsibilities. We look back fondly on the days we lived without worry of how we would look "some day." Even with the sun damage, none of us would change a moment.
Aging is funny.
My friends and I can now laugh over a glass of wine when we compare the way our faces are shifting. My friend explains, "My genes are not so good. When I look at my relatives I can see that I have a lot to worry about because as they age their noses touch their chins... they look like goats." She actually measures the distance between her nose and chin every year!
If you stop being competitive with your looks, you'll be more collaborative in all areas of life.
I think my friends and I were more obsessed with beauty in our 30s and 40s. We were competitive. We were serious and driven in all areas of our lives, and that included trying to look better than anyone else in the room. Now we seem to be more collaborative. We share more. When someone finds a product that works, we immediately let others know. Yesterday I told a friend about Emu Oil as a remedy for broken capillaries and she immediately tweeted the information to others. "We're in this together," I said. I wish I'd felt this way much, much earlier.
You've earned that face.
I think many people (at least those not yet in their 50's) would jump to the conclusion that because women in their fifth decade look different from the way they once did, they look worse, and feel bad about it. This could not be further from the truth. I feel like I've earned my face. It's a road map to what I've enjoyed, endured and accomplished. The journey my face represents is personal, and only I need to understand it.
Looks can hide beauty.
When you stop worrying about how you look, you discover a lot of beauty you were too distracted to recognize before -- in your intelligence, compassion and strength. When we develop the capacity for joy in the midst of chaos, or choose compromise instead of unnecessary drama, and when we stand up for ourselves in various ways, this creates another kind of beauty.
Anxiety can hide it, too.
How many times a week (or day) do you think critically about your appearance? Home in on one feature and obsess about its imperfections? No wonder you can't see how beautiful you are. If you can find a way to zoom out a little, the angst will lift, and it's amazing how much more beauty you recognize when you look in the mirror.
It's okay to spend time on your appearance.
Even though beauty is much, much more than that image in the mirror, there's nothing wrong with doing what you can to slow the aging process. I use the creams and take the vitamin supplements. I don't know any women in her 50's who hasn't changed how and what she eats and drinks. I've even added an extra 30 minutes to my beauty routine. I take a little more care with my makeup -- I don't use more, I'm just take more time to get the look I want. My hair is turning grey and is a little coarser, so I've added another hair care product to smooth it and make it look shiny like it did in my 40's. It may sound like a chore but in reality, during your 50's you have a little more time with kids gone and careers firmly established. The extra time I spend on myself is a type of nurturing, and it feels good to be giving that gift to myself.
Beauty is a choice.
By which I mean the creams and vitamins, but also something bigger. When I realized that beauty is created by what and how you've lived, I recognized that it's available to all of us, and has been all along. It's already there; you choose whether to acknowledge it in yourself.
To Read More In This Series, "What I Know About Beauty ..."
Now That I'm... In My 20s
Now That I'm... In My 30s
Now That I'm... In My 40s
Now That I'm... In My 60s