Feeling Attractive: Is it Just a Superficial Issue?

There are days when I just don’t feel or look my best; when something’s missing or lacking and I feel “less than” or not quite “good enough.” When this happens, it’s really hard for me to function optimally. I move through my day, doing my best to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, yet I lack the zip in my step, the shine in my eyes and the lilt in my voice. In other words, just like my hair on a humid summer’s day, I’m flat and lifeless! AND, I KNOW IT!

I hate those days! When they come, and often I know they’ve arrived even before I step out of bed in the morning, I want to pull the covers over my head and stay hidden away from the world until the BLAHS have passed. I think we make excuses to ourselves as we get older by telling ourselves that these days are simply due to aging.

Isn’t it natural, after all, that we’d be more tired at 55 than we were at 25 and 35 years old? Isn’t it expected, that as we age, we’ll not look AS GOOD as we did in our youth? Isn’t it understandable that our bodies will creak and ache more in our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s than when we were strong, energetic 20 and 30 somethings?

To all that I say, “Hogwash!”

I remember the years when my kids were young and my sleep was constantly interrupted by a child crying out from bad dreams at 1:00 am, then another climbing into my bed at 3:00 am. Just recently, I got a good laugh reading a younger mom’s post on Facebook in which she marveled how it’s possible for her 35 lb. daughter to somehow ease her out of a king sized bed at night! Besides young children, in my 30’s I was also working hard to build my career and business, not to mention going out much more often at night! I was ALWAYS tired back then!

As for looking better when we were younger, well, maybe we thought we did, but honestly, I’m not so sure we did! When I look at pictures from my “youth”, though my face was smoother, my hair darker and I was definitely thinner, I know I was not as confident as I am today, and I see the tell-tale signs in every photo.  In each stage of life I’ve had times when I was, in every way, at my physical best, but there were also times when I was far off the mark. Today, even though I may have crow’s feet and thinning hair, I feel so much better in my skin and more at home with myself. And that increased comfort has given me the poise and presence I lacked when I was younger.

Aging may be inevitable, but I don’t believe we must succumb to physically breaking down at the same rate at which we chronologically age. There are many examples of women who are 10, 20, even 30 years ‘younger’ in comparison to their peers, who have taken care of themselves, protected and preserved their physical strength, stamina and beauty. Women like Elaine LaLanne, wife of fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who proudly states she feels like she’s 19 today, despite being in her early 80’s. Or author Mary Higgins Clark who is 82 years old and still writing novels. Then there’s 78 year-old active model Carmen Dell’ Orefice, whom many consider to be more beautiful today than in her youth. And the incomparable Tina Turner, who just last year performed onstage at 69 years-old in her trademark mini-dress with an equally fit and amazing 64 year-old Cher. Certainly I can’t leave out the stunningly beautiful, 64 year-old actress Helen Mirren, who was photographed last summer wearing a bikini on the beach looking fit and very sexy!

By the year 2022, research shows the 50 to 64 year-old population will increase by a whopping 50% and those over 65 will grow by 32%. On the other hand, the combination of the Gen X and Gen Y generations will grow by only 3%. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out which group will be the largest for years to come!

So what can we do to embrace aging, to welcome the external changes our bodies naturally undergo? First, we need to accept that no matter how hard we work to slow the aging process, we will age. Although there have been many advancements in science, medicine, nutrition and cosmetics, they haven’t yet discovered the fountain of youth.

Therefore, in this youth obsessed culture, we must stop looking at aging as something negative while coming to terms with the effects of aging on our appearance. I understand mourning the loss of perfect skin, luxurious hair and supple bodies. Yet, can’t beauty be redefined as we age? Can’t we look for – and truly see – our own unique beauty which is apparent at every stage of life?

Being attractive at 40 is not the same thing as being attractive at 70, 80 and 90. For women, so much of our beauty is defined by our sexual attractiveness when we are in our fertile years. What about after that? What about when we are no longer able to bear children, but still can offer excitement, passion, intellectual stimulation, companionship, friendship and sustenance? Are we to put ourselves out to pasture because we are no longer ‘hot’ in the vernacular of youth?

Recently my youngest daughter was home from college and was watching a reality TV show when a portion of it caught my attention. In the episode Kim Kardashian was trying to decide whether or not to have Botox injections to minimize her crow’s feet.  CROW’S FEET! My goodness…the girl is positively gorgeous! And though I wasn’t face-to-face with her, and perhaps she really does have a few faint lines beginning to appear around her eyes, I was totally aghast that she was so concerned about her appearance!

Needless to say she went ahead with the treatment, and much to her dismay had an allergic reaction to the injections, which caused her significant concern, pain and bruising. Believe me; I’m not against anything that will help women to feel better. But, c’mon! We’re sending the wrong message when young women in their prime feel inadequate and worry that their looks will somehow hold them back from attaining their goals.

What do we gain as we age? We gain incredible patience, deep insight, a hunger for more, a joyful levity, tremendous empathy and a sharp determination to share our value in a world that is rapidly changing.

So my best advice to you is this: Take care of yourself!

I know that’s boring, but it’s true! Get regular medical and dental check-ups, eat healthy and nutritional  foods, exercise and remain active, watch your weight, maintain connections with family and friends, stay involved in your community, express yourself creatively, practice laughing, remember to count your blessings and above all, tell yourself everyday how wonderful the world is because you’re in it!

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