Will Your Beauty Endure?
A few months ago, I turned 50, and suddenly, for the first time in my life, I started noticing a few lines that were not just sleep lines but were more prominent, and they did not go away. I also noticed that I have been gaining weight that I couldn’t take off by just simply exercising more and eating less. However long it had actually been happening, for me, it all seemed as if it had happened overnight. In the weeks following my rude awakening, these things started to whittle away at my confidence, and I found myself becoming more self-conscious about being in front of the camera and putting my photos on social media.
But #SelfLove has become such a popular concept on social media today that it has its own hashtag with more than 7,953,147 postings. And with so many messages telling me “Love yourself”, “Be kind to yourself”, and “You are beautiful just as you are”, I thought I had this area covered. Yet I was still not feeling the love when I looked at my pictures online.
When I started to delve deeper into the ways in which I was slowly changing, not only physically, but also mentally, I realized that I, along with friends and millions of other women my age, was still stacking myself up to some of the same standards that had carried over from the ideals I grew up with.
Beauty Over the Years
In the 80’s, we didn’t want to be called “girls”, we wanted to be powerful career women, and we dressed accordingly. For us, it was all about the power suits with big shoulder pads, big hair with lots of hairspray, and lots of bold makeup. At the same time, Jane Fonda and the Aerobics fashion trend had us working out around the clock to maintain a certain ideal body weight. It came as no surprise then that this trend launched the plastic surgery movement, and eating disorders began skyrocketing during this era.
Much to our surprise, and frankly, relief, today’s girls are proudly claiming their “Girl Power”, and minimalist makeup and the Natural Look is in. Today’s twenty-somethings are also purposefully going gray, leaving their mothers and aunts absolutely confounded. But body image is something that is still a carry-over from my era, despite how many times the term #SelfLove is trending in the media. As fashion trend blogger Idealist Style noted,
“We are in the middle of the fight for a healthy body image, and a love for our natural shape vs. the creation of the perfect self. More and more people are encouraged to show what their bodies actually look like, but at the same time celebrities are followed 24/7, and expected to look flawless at any given time”.
Many of us think we love ourselves just the way we are, (the way Billy Joel tells us); but the reality is, many of us are still heavily influenced by the millions of edited images in the media of young, tall & thin celebrities and models with perfect bone structures, daintily clad in size 0 clothing.
Changing The Dialogue
Thankfully, though, there are a few young thought leaders out there delving deeper into the concept of True Beauty, including @kameachayne, @leotielovely, @sarakatherineblog, and @taylor_lovee. I’d like to think that it was no surprise that these true beauties came into my life when they did. Talking with these young forces of social change who are delving deeper into the popular concept of Beauty and Self Love. When the rest of the world is saying “Beauty is Skin Deep”, these beauties are asking us: “What does Beauty mean to you?”
Because even Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, and Christie Brinkley will grow old, and so will Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, and all the other It-models of today. And whatever images are pervasive in the media throughout our daily lives, we, as individuals must be more aware of the thoughts and images in our own minds that will determine how we as individuals will embrace the changes within ourselves as we grow older.
Rather than modeling our lifestyles and setting our standards based on trending images and sound bites, maybe we should be asking more questions such as “What do you love about your body?”, “What has your body done for you?”, and “What feels good to you?” that will really help us to set our own personal standards of what we feel is Beautiful.
For me, those questions have given thought to many personal ideas. But most of all, it all comes down to the idea that Beauty is Kind.
The most beautiful people in the world, to me,
are those who are truly kind on the inside, and their kindness radiates outward.
Though I am constantly aware of my own actions and how I can be more kind to others, I realize now that I am rarely aware of how I can be more gentle to myself. When it comes to my own views of my body and what Beauty means to me, I know I must look inward to discover what feels healthy to me, and not to uphold others’ ideas of what I should look like. That will mean not just telling myself to accept my grays, my lines, and the extra pounds on my body, but meeting them where they are, however they are. Reminding myself of my own belief that Beauty is Kind will help me to take daily actions to be kind to myself in the mirror, in my photos, and in my life. I invite you to join me and a small but growing circle of writers and entrepreneurs leading Ethically, Ecologically, and Socially Conscious lifestyles in starting a new conversation about Beauty, where we have more questions than answers, starting with “What is your idea of Beauty?