Sometimes I’m taken aback by my image in the mirror. I will be feeling giddy and silly then look in the mirror and see a much older looking face than expected. It’s puzzling and sometimes startling. “There’s some kind of mistake. Something is wrong with my mirror. Maybe this isn’t my mirror at all.” What do you feel when you look in the mirror? Do you like what you see? Does what you see match with what you feel inside?
Body image and appearance is just as important to middle-aged women as it is to younger women. I think us middle-aged mavens are even more concerned about it. Let me rephrase that, because we don’t have time for concern. We are acutely aware of our body image and changing appearance as we age. Yet, I’m willing to bet that the way you look does not reflect the way you feel.
I remember my grandmother saying something very profound to me when I was a teen. I had probably just made a smartass, teenage jab about her age when she replied, “You look at me and see an old woman. I know I am getting old, but I still feel like a young girl inside. Some day you will understand that.” That always stuck with me, and, grandma, someday has come. I completely understand now. My soul is as vibrant and youthful as ever! I don’t feel my age. I don’t dress my age (there shouldn’t be “rules” about that anyway). And, most days, I don’t act my age either. I stay up to date with music, lingo, trends, technology, and even dance moves!
When I tell people my age, it doesn’t sound right. I actually did the math recently subtracting my birth year from this year to confirm what I already knew. I’m turning 49 in November. That’s not old, I know, and I have never felt compelled to lie about my age. The number doesn’t make me feel depressed or less. It just doesn’t match with how I feel inside.
I mentioned in my first post that I find myself pulling back sagging facial skin in the mirror and missing my firm, perky breasts. I firmly believe in regular exercise and healthy eating for physical, mental, and spiritual health, but no amounts of weights and tofu will stop the aging process! They do slow it down, though, and I often hear that I look 10 years younger than I am. That said, I still have droopy facial skin, marionette lines, neck wrinkles, crow’s feet, and I struggle to find a makeup that doesn’t settle in those lines and look cakey (suggestions are welcome!). And what the heck is going on with the loose skin at my knees and elbows! Oh, and those nice rounded tops of my breasts? They are gone. Poof. Outta here. Now those once round, full breasts look more like…..fried eggs? None of this has kept me home, prevented me from wearing whatever the hell I want to wear, made me avoid pictures, or sent me into a fit of tears. I just pull a little here and lift a little there and reminisce.
I know a lot of women will say they don’t care that they are aging, claim they have earned every wrinkle, and they insist on growing old gracefully. I applaud that, and I certainly don’t care as much about my looks as I once did. I actually walk out of my house sometimes without even looking in the mirror, and I often go days without makeup. Gasp! I just don’t think my looks match what I feel, and it does niggle at me sometimes. I don’t like that media and advertising promote only a certain standard of beauty, and I give a standing ovation to companies that feature real women in their advertising. Those celebrities who have posted unedited pictures of themselves in protest of unrealistically photoshopped images are worthy of respect, too, especially when their livelihood is mostly beauty-based. Shout out to you Britney, Cindy, Jamie Lee, Zendaya, and all the others! That said, I’m not trying to preach about modern beauty standards or rally against the media machine. Nor do I really care about what others think of my appearance. I already have a quirky style and probably break every so-called rule on what not to wear for a woman rapidly approaching 50. I’m not concerned about attracting a man. I have one. An amazing one who loves every imperfection. I’m merely stating that my appearance does not match how I feel, and I look for ways to reconcile the disparity.
I have tried countless creams and other products that promise to firm, tone, tighten, and lighten. Most have been an absolute disappointment. I have had success with some, though, and am preparing a post to give shout outs to what has worked for me. I have also had some success with natural remedies and supplements that I will share with you as well. What I have not done is succumb to plastic surgery, botox, fillers, or lasers; however, I have researched all of these options. It’s just not that important to me to spend that kind of money…..and I’m kind of chicken. I mean, have you seen Botched?!
A positive thing that came from this inner struggle is that I have delved much deeper into my spirituality. The idea of an ageless soul is intriguing, enlightening, and comforting, isn’t it? I have always suspected it, but now I know there is more to us and this realm in which we live. This allows me to connect to myself and others on a much deeper and more meaningful level. I look for purpose in everything and have a profound appreciation for my life and the abundance present in it.
What are your thoughts on age and appearance? Do you feel the discrepancy between how you look and how you feel? If so, what have you done to reconcile the two? Do you struggle to maintain a youthful appearance or have you resigned yourself to embrace all the changes and grow older gracefully? This is most certainly a transitional time in life akin to the transition from girlhood to womanhood; however, this time we are armoured with more experience, knowledge, and confidence. I’ll leave you with a quote from Polish poet, Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, “Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”