Here’s a question for you: Do you ever think about getting older?
Or, more particularly, about wrinkling? Or gray hairs? Or super saggy boobs that touch your belly button? THAT kind of getting older. Not the other kind where you start thinking about cashing in IRAs and living out of RVs half the year.
You know, the anti-aging industry is a multi-multi-billion dollar industry. I think the last numbers I saw were over $80 billion a year. And as you baby boomers start blooming into your maturity, that number is growing like the line for the 4:00 early bird special on meatloaf day.
Magazines tell 20-year-olds they should start using anti-wrinkle cream – right now. Or else. Or else you’ll end up looking like a cross-breed of pug dog, crumpled paper bag, and elephant by the time you’re 40. So please, 20-year-olds, start obsessing now, mkay? It’s never too soon to hate who you’re going to become.
If you’re a woman, you really do need to worry about these things. If you don’t worry now, how will you ever remember to schedule the plastic surgery to get rid of your worry lines later in life?
Is Aging a Sign of Weakness or Strength?
It’s not a secret, and this isn’t some bombshell revelation, but we live in a culture, in a time, that celebrates youth above just about anything else. If you’re not young, especially as a woman, it’s easy to get sucked into believing that you’re less relevant, less desirable, and less of an actual human being because of this.
And, yes, advertising and marketing has played a significant role in this. Okay. Maybe a little bit more than just significant.
We have been really, utterly, entirely duped. Us, as a society, and us – singularly – as women. Why? Because we’ve been taught, quite effectively, to link aging with pain. Significant pain because of our perceived insignificance to the world.
Think I’m wrong? Look at the way the media treats Hillary Clinton and her appearance. Or Nancy Pelosi. Or Madonna. Any woman who’s reached maturity and looks like it is ridiculed. Any woman who has reached maturity and looks 30 years younger than their age is applauded.
So, us little ones, here in our homes, see this and think, “I cannot be ridiculed like that. So I must take steps to alleviate this potential significant pain.” And we buy creams and go under the knife and spend hours in front of the mirror and … it’s all so much worry.
The Pain of Denying What’s Natural
Now, here’s the deal: We start buying all these creams when we’re in our 20s, thinking we’re going to avoid this ultimate pain in the future. In our 30s, we start looking for and plucking gray hairs. We coat our entire beings with creams and sunscreens and lotions, because we know it’s getting closer. When we’re in our 40s, we double up on those creams and maybe get a shot of delicious botulism in the form of Botox. Or even more drastic – we let someone pry open our skin and lift our faces.
Never once do we consider that all of THAT is a source of pain. Never once do we consider that the time we spend worrying about the wrinkles is actually causing them. Never once do we ponder the money we’re wasting on creams and potions, when we could be spending that money on things like vacations and carefree outings. Never ONCE do we look at taking all these precautionary and fixative measures as a completely unconscious response to a stimulus that someone else has set up for us. Someone else. Faceless. Nameless. The boss of our self worth.
And, god help me, women find so much pain in the idea of physical aging that they’ll do anything to stop it, until they’re just … you know … dead. And for what?
I cannot speak for you, but when I consider my little wrinkles and my spattered, random gray hairs, I honestly don’t care that they exist. They mean nothing to me – alone – as a person. They’re not bothersome, and they don’t take away from my worth.
Where the problem comes in is when I start considering what that means for the way other people will think about me. Will I still be respected when I’m half gray? Will anyone listen to me when the wrinkles in my eyes are deep enough to see even when I’m not smiling? Will anyone care?
The PLEASURE In Aging!
What if you could enjoy your life without worrying about what you may or may not look like in the future? What would your life look like if you embraced who you are now – for every minute of every day for the rest of your life?
I’m not suggesting you don’t wear makeup or be feminine. I’m saying: What if you could embrace the unending course of nature and let yourself be yourself, without allowing anyone else to tell you how you’re unworthy? WHAT IF YOU ARE WORTHY RIGHT NOW – AND WORTHY 50 YEARS FROM NOW?
How would that feel?
Women … ah. We’re human. We should allow ourselves to be human.
And in the face of Anderson Cooper’s (ahhh … shocking) revelation yesterday, let me share what really hit me. He said, “I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.”
This applies for us, as well. The tide of history – for women – will only advance when we make ourselves fully visible. And that means, we love ourselves and refuse to buy into fears and pain that someone else has created for us. We stand up as beautiful, the way we are. We love the wrinkles. Now. 20 years from now. It’s all the same.
We stop feeding the beast of the industry that turns around and makes us feel completely worthless. We stop caring what the boys on the corner are going to think. We live. We love. And we do NOT apologize for it.
Saturday night, I went out with a girlfriend to karaoke, my deliciously frivolous occasional treat, and there I met a woman. She was 85 years old. Radiant. Glowing. Hugging everyone she met, and singing like soul-infused nightingale.
She kept this up for three hours, never stopping, never sitting down.
Finally, I asked her, “What’s your secret? You’re such an inspiration – you’re who I want to grow up to be. Tell me, how do you do it?”
She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, “Honey. Two things. A lotta booze and a lotta sex.” After I’d settled down from a very unfeminine snorting fit of laughter, she pulled me in closer and whispered:
“The truth is, I’m beautiful. Right now. And I know it. Because I know it, you know it too. Everyone around knows it! And that’s the secret. Know what you’re worth, and you’ll never need to change a thing about yourself. Ever. Not even when you’re 85.”
So let me ask you …
How do you embrace who you are, without worrying about current wrinkles or future wrinkles? How do you celebrate your BEAUTY RIGHT NOW without expecting to change the course of nature and your future?
What would your life look like if you could love who you were? Celebrate it? And never, ever, ever let anyone take away your powerful personal knowledge that you are worthy, whether you’re 25 or 85?
And, most of all, will you take a pledge with me?
Will you PLEASE pledge to never, ever, ever speak ill of another woman because of her appearance? Because of her wrinkles or her jowls or her saggy, baggy boobs? Pledge to never perpetuate this very unhelpful, unhealthy myth that women are subject to ridicule based on their appearance?
Because WE have to stand together. WE have to stop the cycle. And you better believe, sisters, if we refuse to play the game and instead stick together, we will.
This is such an awesome post. Your words are beautiful, honest, and true! I just turned 32 and am starting to see signs of age – more lines, a lot more cellulite, a less than perky butt, etc. What has caught me by surprise is that I FEEL prettier than I ever have in my life. I would have been horrified by all these things when I was 25 and still holding myself up to all the ideals of beauty we are presented with day by day. But in my experience I’ve found out that it feels so much better to show signs of age and not care as much than it is to look young and “flawless” and be very concerned with appearances. It’s a relief. It really drives home how it is important to consciously reject the premise that we are somehow less worthy the less “perfect” we look, and so important to talk about it in the open. That premise is such an illusion that is fed to us, a manufactured perspective that has no basis in reality. I think the more voices like yours speak out so eloquently, the more this perspective will change. Thanks Crunchy Betty!!
I pledge with a glad heart. May I reach 85 with EXACTLY that attitude! What a woman! May we all follow in this wise womans footsteps… Love and light, Sisters x x
I will say only this: when I was in college, I had a chemistry professor in her early 30s who never wore makeup. One day I asked her why, and she said “do you know what’s in that stuff?” That was from a woman with a PhD in organic chemistry. If that’s not enough to convince you makeup isn’t worth it, I don’t know what is.
Inspired partially by my mom’s beautiful gray-streaked hair and my desire for low/no-maintenance hair, I’m seriously considering going natural with my prematurely gray hair (I’m 28 and saw my first gray hair at 16). I’m too lazy…err… efficient for make up and the like so it seems kind of funny that I do all this crap to my hair while thinking it’s a waste of time to do it to my face.
Holy cow, Betty. That was beautiful. I’m sharing this with my two amazing sisters RIGHT NOW. Thank you. <3
I pledge, Crunchy Betty! I happily join you in this pledge. ~ You lift my spirits and awareness every time I read your wonderful and inspiring and fun posts. Thanks!
I linked back to you in this post: http://junglejourney.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/you-are-beautiful/
The quote toward the end of this post literally left me with tears running down my face. I was sitting here reading it at 6 this morning, and I couldn’t stop myself. Thank you for posting it, I needed that. 🙂
Finding a Long Gray Hair
by Jane Kenyon
I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs.
I love this. Though I will admit to coloring my gray, partly out of just plain vanity, but also because I had my child just before turning 37 and don’t want to be mistaken for his grandmother when we’re out and about. It’s my one non-eco-friendly indulgence.
As for skin–I read a wonderful novel years ago called “Zenzele” in which an African grandmother talks to her granddaughter about her wrinkles, and each one recalls a story: this one is from when your mother got seriously hurt, this one is from when I stayed up all night waiting for you to be born, this one happened when… you get the idea. It made me look at getting older in a different way, as a celebration of the accumulated experiences of life.
I wash my face with a homemade blend of olive oil, witch hazel, and strawberries which is supposed to have anti-aging properties–all I know is it feels and smells great. If it helps down the road, so much the better. If it doesn’t, so what?
I can’t remember where I read it, but in one of the books I read as a child, someone said that wrinkles were the memories of smiles. I’ve always loved the idea that your loves and life and laughter are somehow mapped onto your face.
I take this pledge! As a redheaded, freckly woman I have had to avoid the sun my whole life. I would like to add pale to the new beautiful list please. My husband, also a redheaded freckly guy, just went for treatment for skin cancer on his lip. It was a reminder of what we sometimes will do, (tan unprotected) to feel like we are beautiful. My mother never showed me how to wear makeup so I never have. I have been gray since I was 30 and figure it was all the adventure that created those hairs. I stopped buying into the lotions and notions, as I call it, of beauty years ago and am glad for it. I am beautiful as I am gray haired, wrinkled, pale and naked faced! I never felt that way when I was younger, but 40 shook a lot of doubts out of my head and confidence and apathy for what others thought about me marched right in. Thank you for reminding me to support my sisters and to love who I am right in this moment.
What a beautiful and elegantly worded post! I am 28, with several grey hairs (they started when I was 21) and I love every single one. I’ve even yelled at a friend who tried to pluck them off my head. I’ll probably be fully grey by 35, and I will be thrilled. My husband even tells me I have to grey faster! =) I happen to think about this particular topic quite a bit. I work at a health club and see all shapes, sizes and ages come through on a daily basis, and I wonder what I will look like when I’m older. If I end up looking like my mother, I have nothing to worry about!
I also think about this because I have not fallen ON the band wagon and spend my hard earned cash on make-up, hair dyes, or anti-wrinkle creams. Even when I notice that laugh line that sticks around longer than maybe I would like it to. However, I have women come up to me and applaud me for not wearing make-up, because they notice. Even a few men have commented that they like the sans make-up look much better. (They are in the minority….) I hope that if I have little girls that I can pass on this same message to them so that they value who they are AND how they look, even if they are not what society would call beautiful.
Laura Black Caprioni
At 53 years old, four years into peri-menopause (or whatever it’s called), an empty-nester, a blogger, etc., I feel for the first time in my life that I am living fully as ME. No explanations, no excuses, and no regrets. I am loving who I am more every single day. Still haven’t quite embraced my grey hair. That’s a work in progress! 🙂 I have always loved my birthdays and with each decade, I love my life more. How awesome is that! Great article, Crunchy Betty!
I love this post! I’m at the wee age of 18 and I already have laugh lines and slight creases where I furrow my eyebrows (which is a lot). I love them! I think that wrinkles tell a story and are nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve decided that I’m never going to try to cover up my future gray hairs. I think it’s cool that someday I’m going to have silver hair!
Shana San Nicolas
love it! i always wanted to end up being one of those old people that look like the are always smiling because of the laugh lines 🙂
I am 24, so I can’t say much yet, but I do relate to this post in a way. Many of the things I do now, like moisturizing with oil and not getting too much sun, are done with the thought in mind that it will help me maintain my appearance as I get older.
Wow. How pervasive is the myth that youth equals beauty. Even as I try to make myself healthier, there is also a portion of my mind that says “PLUS I won’t get as many wrinkles as the deeply tanned and dyed girls, I win!” Sigh. I consider myself to appreciate age, but that mindset is deep. I will have to keep working on it.
Also, I am reminded of a quote “Do not be afraid of growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”
I stopped obsessing over my looks about 5 years ago, when I was turning 30 and really didn’t care but everybody kept saying “oh, you’re in your thirties. now you’re getting old!”. I never understood what was so bad about not being 20-something anymore. I’m happier than ever, I have more experience in life, people are taking me more seriously. Although people do tend to think I’m younger than I am. I know I’m supposed to take that as a compliment but I don’t really like it when they say it. I’d rather be judged on what I do. Marieke
I can’t wait to be the woman with gray dreadlocks.
In the mean time, I realized that smoking cigarettes (my only poison, how silly) was making me wrinkled at the ripe old age of 32. So I stopped.
great post, but i think society is just the way it is, and i’m gonna go along with it. of course, it’s absolutely fantastic if you are able to embrace yourself but i don’t think i ever will, and i don’t want to. for me, it’s more stress to look old than to put on sunscreen everyday.
Oh! This made me cry, big sloppy happy tears! Sign me up! I’ll take the pledge. I finally decided to go completely gray recently and you know what? I LOVE the way my hair looks, love it. It’s pretty. I also love the new lines around my mouth, they give my face character..I’ve always had a penchant for loving these little things that pop up as I mature, I want to guard that fiercely now, protect it and encourage it in others. It feels good.
All I can say is, “Thank you.” As a woman of 55, I am just now getting slowly ot the place where I am questioning why I would have to work so hard for plastic perfection? Who is it that is actually keeping track? Oh, yes, the “boys on the corner”. exactly. I have wasted more money than I wnat to think about trying to make sure that they, all of those anonymous men out there, will think that I am SOMETHING! And, I am ashamed to say, that so much of my trying for perfection actually had to do with making sure that I was the prettiest. It was all about making sure that I stood out over my isters….and that is shameful to me. I was the Evil Queen staring into my mirror, not Snow White! So….I gladly take the pledge! I will never again trash another woman and I will continue to grow in my acceptance of myself as a beutiful, intelligent, caring woman….JUST AS I AM!
I pledge! And thank you for posting this.
It was a pleasure to read! Thank you!
I applaud you for this post. This needed to be said and you said it. I stumbled upon your blog only a few short days ago and I am glad I did. Thank you for this post. I. Am. In. 100%.
I was just talking about this with my 18 yr daughter today! I am turning 39 this month and though sometimes thats just a bit scarry, I love who I am now. I decided long ago to stop comparing myself to others; whether I thought they looked better than me or worse than me. It’s amazing how changing one thing about how I view others not only helped my attidude toward those around me, but also changed how I saw myself. And now I have been able to instill in my daughter the same attidude toward others and herself. And in turn she has been able to encourage her friends. What an amazing difference we can all make just being ourselves! Thank you Crunchy Betty for reminding us of the individual beauty we all have. I will continue to let mine shine!
I’ll take this pledge! I’m only 28 but it kills me how every time you open a magazine there are articles about wrinkle creams and treatments and all this stuff you should start doing practically before your born. What ever happened to aging gracefully? And if you take care of yourself now, inside and out, no matter your age, you’ll be happy with yourself in the future. Yeah, everyone does things that are bad for them and their skin, like tanning, or whatever but that’s LIFE. Whats the point if all you’re going to do is worry about this wrinkle here or this bump there? Go out and live. Then when you do get the wrinkles and the sagging and the grey hairs, you can say that every bit is worth it because you’ve earned them.
Not only that, but all these creams and surgeries and all this stuff is relatively new in the grand scheme of things…who knows what they are actually going to do to your body several years down the road? Probably nothing good.
This is a very truthful article. I’m 23, I don’t ever wear makeup or even earrings, and my nose is a lot bigger than what society thinks is pretty. Honestly, I do feel less “pretty” sometimes because of my makeup-less, big-nosed face. But:
1. I’ve watched my younger sister wear makeup since she was about 14. Her identity is so wrapped up in it; she won’t go in the rain, because it’ll ruin her makeup. She won’t spontaneously do anything in the morning, because she has to get her face ready. She can’t crash at a friend’s house after a long night if she didn’t bring her makeup. Her purse is pounds heavier when she DOES remember her makeup. Basically, if her face is bare and natural, she feels hideous.
2. My nose is from my Roman heritage, which I get from my mother. And she is a beautiful woman, despite not having a “normal” nose.
So basically, yes, I do worry sometimes about these silly things that society wants me to care about. But I see people suffering to fit into society’s norms, and I know I can’t live like that. Plus, as the woman you met said, confidence will radiate so far that everyone around you can see it. You don’t need to look ‘normal,’ you just need to love who you are.
I just turned 45 and feel as good about what I look like as I ever have in my life. I look like a WOMAN, baby, not a girl! I look at my arms, spotted with small freckles and brown spots, and see the reflection of my beautiful 101-yr old gramma whom I miss more than anyone in the world. Seeing her on my skin makes a lump in my throat and I wear her with pride. I color my hair with henna, not chemicals. I love the way it feels, so bouncy and shiny and healthy, with a natural red glow. I have the blessing of good genes and look 10 years younger than I actually am but I don’t really worry too much about the wrinkles and spots I see appearing. They are me. I earned them. I loved this post.
Hey Betty … here’s a great song relevant to your post (I think) “Skin” by Greg Tamblyn. You can listen for free. 🙂 The lyrics are there too.
You are awesome! I completely agree!!!!
I love this so much. I’m 42 and I take care of my skin, but I’m not afraid of aging. I’ve been through a lot in my life and when I reach the end I want my face to look like I really lived. Given what my husband is going through, not only am I not afraid of aging, I consider every year I’m granted on this earth a privilege and a gift. I’m not going to waste this beautiful life worrying about something I ultimately cannot change.
I have to tell you. I am 36 and have been getting grayer every year since I was about 27. I let it go for a long time, until people started noticing and making comments to me. So I started coloring my hair to hide the gray. I did it for other people, not for myself. That’s very sad to say. I think my days of coloring may be over thanks to this post.
I stand with you to never speak ill of other women again!
Wow. What a great post. That 85 year old woman makes me happy to be alive. That is such a good way to live. I’ll take your pledge.
Count me in on that pledge! I just turned 41, and have witnessed first hand how well the advertising and marketing has worked on my own mother. She has spent countless $$$ over the years in search of the next miracle cream or cosmetic that never lived up to its promise, despite my insistence that she didn’t need them to be beautiful. That has likely inspired me to head in the opposite direction recently – refusal to cover my emerging grays, keeping the makeup to a minimum, going (mostly!) no ‘poo, and generally putting my money and time into more important things than feeding the youth-above-all marketing machine. And I am much happier this way. Where I need to focus is in helping other women around me, and those that I meet going forward, to feel the same way about themselves – and I will!
Wow!!!! That is an amazing post!!! I am so inspired and with you 100%! We are beautiful just the way we are!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!
And there’s a problem with living in an RV?
Amen, sister! And what about all the chemical we are putting onto and into our bodies while we buy into all that anti-aging junk?
Gisele Ray THompson
Love this post! Sometimes I color my hair, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I wear makeup, but most of the time I don”t. Maybe I’ll shave my legs, if I feel like it. It all depends on what I FEEL like doing!! I will go and get a facial because I love the pampering and a super clean face NOT because of any other youth producing gimmicks that can be brought forth. I love pedicures because of how it FEELS when I get it and I love looking at my Revlon “Cherries in the Snow” toes when it is all done. It is not about the retention of youth but how I feel in my skin. I will be 55 in September and I have spent years trying to do it right, but when I hit my mid-40’s I realized that it is ALL ABOUT ME!! I take care of my skin because it FEELS better not makes it look younger and that sums up how I operate. I want to feel good and healthy in my skin and there is nothing wrong with taking care of it. Sometimes I want to play and do something different so I will but it is for me!!! NOT for anyone else’s expectation of me. I love me, my wrinkles, my sags, my grey hairs or my highlights. Once I take care of me, my cup runneth over and then I can take care of the rest of my life! I pledge to honor me in all my needs and wants and ironies and facets and fun and spirit! You go, girl~!
What a super fantastic post. I love love that 85 year old woman and her attitude! How wonderful! I pledge to never speak ill of another woman because of her appearance. More importantly for me, and exponentially more difficult, I also pledge to try very very hard to not beat up on myself for my appearance.
I am 32 now, always being concerned what others will think of me. I need to learn do not care about such a bs. Thank you for your great post! Loved it and love you!
I’ve had saggy boobs for pretty much most of the time I’ve had boobs. I started getting silver hairs when I was around 16. I never tanned, just burnt then went back to white so I’ve kept our of the sun since my early teens.
I only ever wear makeup when I want to play around and have fun, I don’t use creams and stuff, just olive oil to stop my fact getting itchy and sore. I don’t shave my legs or under my arms, it’s just not worth the effort. My skin doesn’t like it.
I’m 31 and in the last 5 or 6 years I’ve come to terms with myself as I am and learned to accept things as they are and find the beauty in life
I really don’t fear getting older at all really. I have many health problems and it means I’ve simplified my life down as much as I can. I’ve had to prioritise my energy towards things that I need to do and make me happy.
I stopped coloring my hair about 6 years ago, and I don’t miss it. I realized that I have lovely hair color, even (especially?) with my silver “highlights.”
Your plea reminds me of this epiphany – I used to be rather snarky about people jogging or walking along side the road if they weren’t the “fit,” “athletic” type.
This was before I started running.
So I was being snarky about people who were doing something about their health (and perhaps body image) that I wasn’t willing to do.
What a jerk-ass.
Now, regardless of the person at the side of the road, I give an internal cheer for everyone walking, jogging, running, whatever because that person is doing something good for herself (also himself as applicable).
Ironically, I’ve felt the best about myself since I started cutting chemicals out of my body – first it was the oil cleansing, then it was going no ‘poo, and I just stopped using conventional deodorant. I am eating better, and you know what? It’s awesome.
And so am I.
And so are all of you.
(Related – have you heard of Operation Beautiful? I think you’ll really like it – check them out!)
I guess I must be a freak or something; I’m a 57 year old who readily admits it. I don’t cover my grays; my last haircut the hairdresser had a ball making a star-burst kind of flower with my white hairs among my dark browns. I’m unhealthy and unfit and way overweight and I know it. But while I take some responsibility, some is also medical, I got some good genes, some not so good, but I do what I can with what I’ve got when I can do it. Usually I go out in public without make-up. GASP Not to say I don’t care at all about appearance, I’m not a slave to it though, and hope I never am. We gotta stick together, young grasshopper!
The greatest beauty secret is a SMILE!
That was just…AWESOME. Really. I turned 40 last year and ever since, I have been obsessing about the aging I see in the mirror. I want to like it…But… I think the part that bothers me the most is that I look tired with my new wrinkles and discolorations. I don’t want to look tired and yet I guess that’s life. I will take your pledge…I have no interest in tearing anyone else down. I’m too busy doing it to myself–I hardly have the time!
I think you’re on to something. And yes, I’m glad to take the pledge. As a soon-to-be 60 year old, I’m just beginning to feel comfortable in my skin – – my… wrinkled skin.
now there is a message I can get behind! I am 33 years old, and I haven’t worn makeup since playing dress up as a kid, it just feels too gross on my face. I have spent my life resisting advice to straighten my super-curly hair, and I found my first three grey hairs a little over a year ago. My hubby looked at them and said that in his family “when the grey comes, it’s time to have kids.” Our daughter is now 4 months old. Before I was told otherwise, I always loved people with laughing crinkles about their eyes best – because I figured those wrinkles showed that they knew how to live life with laughter. I still do, because people’s personalities are so well reflected in their bodies as they age, and a smooth face doesn’t show much character. Feeling lost in a crowd? Seek out someone with deep laugh lines and you’ve found a new friend.
I cover my heart and pledge…..to catch myself in the act…..of negatively judging….. another woman….young or old….this includes MY face, hair and body reflected in the mirror. I pledge to SAY kind and loving things to my SELF and not to expect others to show me my worth. I will be my own…….. mother, sister, best friend.
There is something amazing happening in the world right now and women are turning on like light bulbs. I pledge to be courageous and shine from the inside out so that others may glow. Peace.
I will be 64 next month! Yes, I love my life! I do however with my boobs weren’t quite so saggy……..they are heavy and sometimes I wish I had the small before breast feeding boobs. I would not, however, give up my breast fed babies for anything so I guess I just have to carry these around with me until God calls me home. 🙂 I figure as long as I look nice (my nice) and feel good about myself then everybody else should just let me be me.
I cried. I love this post so much. This is what I’ve been aiming for for about a year now. I’ve stopped wearing makeup because my face is good enough without anything on it. I loved every word you said. I will have to use some of this in my own blog! 🙂
Great article – I took the pledge about 30 years ago, while still a teen, and raised my daughter to do the same. That said, it’s still hard not to slightly panic when one hits their 40’s and sees time engraving itself on one’s once smooth face… I did for a while, then remembered that the alternatives were worse, and so what if I no longer look 10 years younger than I am?!
Here’s another one for you spawned by marketing ploys – women shaving their underarms. Started in the US by a Harpers Bazaar magazine ad in 1916. Now it’s a given that every woman must shave their underarms for ‘cleanliness’, even though that causes sweat to stay right against the skin instead of moving down to the end of the hair to evaporate, thereby encouraging bacteria to grow right against our skin… Proof of how strong peer pressure is for the human psyche.
I love you… I love this post… and I love how I feel after reading it! Now if we could just take your manifesto here and shoot it up into the atmosphere so it comes down and rains over the whole earth and gets in the drinking water and infuses it’s message into every drop… oh yeah, that would be some kind of awesome.
In the meantime, I join in your pledge and request an addendum… that we remember to include ourselves in the focus of the pledge. Charity begins at home, and so does love and support and acceptance. Just like the lovely and wise karaoke lady said. 🙂
I do make the pledge. I haved made negative comments before and realized I was in the same boat after I said it, always hoping no one felt the same way about me. I guess that’s shame. Anyway, lately I have found that regardless of what I do, I am going to get older and even look older. l didn’t want to look or be like my mother; she was very ill and worn out before her time. Recently I have been asked many questions about life from a 22 y/o woman and I realized that she valued what I had to say because of my experience and age. I’m flattered and now understand that after 41 years of nursing, raising children and grandchildren, caring for Mom for 8 years until her death, 3 husbands, one that was in the Navy and carried me all over the country, that I am very worthy of the space I occupy on this earth and the value of my knowledge is priceless. Your story reinforced that feeling and I’m going to practice feeling that worth so I will make it through the rest of my life loving myself. I am 62 and loving it!
Thank you!! I am 51 years young, but I did go gray in my very early 30’s, so I do dye, only cause my skin tone does not support light hair,lol, the importance is to take care of the inside, drink enough water, eat right, avoid too much sun or wind, and the rest sort of takes care of itself. Yes I agree society is against natural aging, but we see older women doing great things in the movies more now than ever before, note “Its complicated” momma Mia” and so on, society is turning around because of the baby boomers. The lady in your picture was probably in her mid 50’s, that is not what women in their 50’s look like now, women over all are getting younger, inside and out. I usually date men 8 to 10 years younger, and have no problem doing so because I am who I am, there is no “age”, age is only a date on your drivers license, luckily we are not tatooed with that date, I have never misrepresented my age. Keep up the deep thinking, and try to change the world. I love it!!!
I take the pledge and am happy to see how many ladies are with me. I am 60 years old and with those years I have the wisdom to know that my body is simply a temporary house for my soul. I would hope that the people I care about would know the difference between looking at a person and actually seeing them.
I’m 48 (and 1/2). Didn’t get my first grays until 40, felt I’d better stop pulling them out a few years ago. Colored a few times, sometimes highlights just to “disguise” it, but ya know, since my wonderful mom died at 72 a couple of years ago after fighting cancer for a year, it seems really shallow and silly to worry about things like that. The vertical worry lines in my forehead really developed while I was taking care of her during her illness, and I don’t like that, but, hey. I am frankly more interested in minimizing the “mask of pregnancy” gained during my 2nd/last pregnancy 6 years ago that never completely went away (maybe I should start washing my face in lemon juice?!). I’ve struggled with not very good skin for most of my adult life (yes, finally in my 30’s hit it with the big toxic gun Accutane; twice). But people like me anyway, my family loves me, my 2 kids are healthy (I like to say that I’m donating my brains to my children – they’re doing well, thank you!). The only thing I’d really like to change is to lose 20 pounds (me and half the industrialized world!), but I can’t figure out how to do that when I need a glass of wine every night! The only surgery I’d ever consider might be to lift my 38DD’s that are creeping down toward my navel (these girls weren’t perky when I was 18!) – I’m finding more and more that they’re in harm’s way when I’ve shed the boulder holder at home in loungewear! Not like anyone but myself and my husband would know, and I certainly would not want my young daughter to know (maybe when she’s off to college in 7 years?!!). Yes, I suppose it’s weak – and I think of friends who have lost theirs to breast cancer and it seems stupid. Thanks for helping to keep me strong!
I’m 54 and already starting to get ignored by pretty young things in the make up dept like I’m freaking invisible. I stopped coloring my hair because I don’t want to put chemicals on me anymore. But I still like to play with makeup but only sometimes. To me its like painting a picture in a way. But I only do it because I want to do it. P.S. I assume this post means that things are better your way with the Colorado Springs fire. I am very glad to hear you are safe and sound and I hope that means your parents are also safe and sound. I love your blog.
beautifully said. I’m in on the pledge. I have never once dyed my hair…I’m 54 and love that it is turning grey! To me, grey is the color of wisdom. I love my age and would not want to go back in time…..well, maybe better knees, but that’s another story!
I’m stunned! What a great post! I can always count on your straight-forward intuitive insight to shake me to my core. I’ve been having a personal crisis with my aging self – not pretty. You’ve given me lots to reflect on, and hopefully, I can take your excellent words, and move forward to enjoy whatever stage of life I’m in without the personal criticism. I’ve accomplished much in my life, and I am proud of that. I want to grow old and set a good example for the beautiful women in my family. Thanks for the reminder!
I just needed to read that. Thank you. You (and that crazy, awesome 85 year old woman) are wonderful! 🙂 And I agree: we women need to stop picking each other apart, and start loving all the differences between us!
Picture me with my hand over my heart – I take the pledge – thought provoking post – hope it makes people realize they are important and not what they look like
Thank you. My thoughts exactly.
Oh my goodness, your description of the woman you met singing karaoke just brought a tear to my eye. People like that – so bright, so unafraid, they are my heroes in life.
I have passed by two other incredible older women in my life. One was just dressed so well, she had taken the current fashions and made them appropriate for her. That is beautiful; accenting your body, showing off how beautiful YOU are, not covering it up with either a lack of fashion or fashion that just isn’t you. She was just stunning.
The other was when I was a cashier at Best Buy – I had JUST served a customer who was 53, complaining loudly that she hated getting new technology and that it was just too hard for her to figure out, that she would have to get “the boys” at home to do it for her “because they’re smart”. (How sad that she thought she wasn’t!) Then a spry little thing bounced up to me, beaming with enthusiasm and pride that she had saved up her money and bought herself a new computer. She excitedly proclaimed that she didn’t need the pre-setup that I offered her, that she had it all figured out, and by the self confidence that she exuded – I more than believed her! Taking her driver’s licence for the cheque she was paying with, I noticed the birth-date… she was 93. Amazing.
When I am old, I want to look like one of those ancient native american women. Faces as old as the earth, wrinkled and craggy, aged and ageless. I want to be vibrant and vital, someone who people are drawn to and want to be around.
I hope to teach my daughter what true beauty is too.
Best. Post. Ever. Thanks, Betty!
I’ve never cared what other people think about my appearance, and have railed against the media and cosmetics industry for years. But it has always surprised me that so few women seem to feel the same way. Thank you so much for writing this. Every woman and girl in our country should read this. Oh, and thank you for your wonderful tips in general. I just found your site this weekend, and I’ve already made laundry balls and done my last poo (I tried in the past, but never found anything that worked as well as the baking soda and apple cider vinegar).
Brown Thumb Mama
A-frickin-men. You said it better than I thought it!
Dang. I have to admit to being critical like this…I’ll start to be more aware and appreciative of true beauty. Thanks for the reminder!
well said! bravo.
Thanks for saying that “out loud”! My gram just turned 87 & never used “beauty” cream or hair dye. She is one of the most beautiful women I know. I can’t wait to look like her when I get old.
I LOVE THIS!!! Totally agree with you girl. I love seeing I’m not the only one and all these amazing women right by our side! I take the pledge with you!
Count me in on the pledge. I just turned 47, and stopped plucking my gray hairs about 5 years ago. Otherwise, I would be half bald! My hair dresser wants me to color my hair, but I refuse. I figure I have earned every one of my gray hairs, and who am I to hide them? They are part of who I am. I also quit wearing makeup about a year ago. I felt it did more harm to my skin (clogging pores) than good, so I just quit. My husband occasionally asks me if I will ever wear makeup again, and I don’t think I will. What you see is what you get! Besides, my skin has never been in better shape (thanks in part to the OCM!).
Thanks for another great perspective. We all need to stick together and end the nonsense!
Hethyr Helton Pletsch
Sometimes I think you can read my mind. ♥
At the age of 23, I am most certainly an old soul. I can’t wait to get old! I can’t wait to feel comfortable in my body. I can’t wait to know everything about myself. I can’t wait to have best friends who I’ve known for 50 years. In my opinion, wrinkles, silver hair, and saggy boobs are earned – and they should be treasured once they finally arrive!
You don’t have to wait to feel comfortable in your body, just do it now! I know that might be easier said than done, but the sooner you do it the happier you’ll be. And the prettier you’ll be too!
This is just awesome! Thanks for being the voice of reason in this crazy world 🙂
Rhonda McClymonds Santoro
I’ve had silver hairs (quite visible against dark brown) since I was fifteen. I’m not sure if I can blame it on the hormonal BC that severely messed with my body and my mind, but the silver is here to stay, apparently.
I’m lucky to have a girlfriend who talks about how she wants to have wrinkles like Judi Dench when she gets old, and who tells me that silver hair is badass.
Weirdly, when I’m feeling good about myself and/or my appearance, I want to wear makeup. When I’m not, I don’t. What’s up with that?
Hooboy! Thank you, Betty, for this. I’m 61(!) and your words are a balm to my soul. It’s so funny/weird to walk around in this body and observe, and repel, the cultural conversation about my invisibility and less-than-usefulness. I am so beautiful, visible, and juicy. Pity those who can’t see it!
Love and light,
I love you, Betty! I feel so good and so INSPIRED when I read your words! Thank you!
it is funny that I haven’t been to your website for awhile, and this morning before work, I decide to go read 🙂 It was the perfect reminder, thank you!!! And I am board too! Not that I ever put somebody down for how they looked, but I have a new respect for them !
What a great post, I agree with you so much. When they kept showing those pictures of Hilary Clinton without makeup and the media negatively commenting on her appearance I just couldn’t believe it. II kept looking and for the life of me all I could see was a completely gorgeous, brilliant, powerful woman that I admire and could not see what the negative fuss was about! I am a 50 year old woman who has plenty of wrinkles, grey hair that I do indeed color but when I look in the mirror I see a reflection of a woman who raised 3 amazing kids, brought up 2 additional kids that were cast off by their families and stayed loving the same man for 25 years,I see a hint of my mother who I lost years ago and I think how can I not love that person, how can that not be beautiful to the people who I love…and in the end that is all who matter…
Julie Van Keuren
I’ll take that pledge! I am so with you on this. And I’d take it one step further (maybe two steps). Why are we so obsessed with makeup that some women are afraid to leave the house without it? Why is OK in our culture for men to show their real faces, while women have to spend their lives living behind a mask? Think of all the time and money wasted by women’s obsession with hiding themselves. STOP BUYING face creams and makeup and hair color, and Botox, and God knows what, and donate that money to Haitian orphans. Seriously.
I love grey hair. My mom went grey quickly in her early 20’s and for years dyed her hair a fake looking black. She only stopped when she developed an allergy to the creepy chemicals. Her hair grew in the most lovely silver. I’ll be 47 in a few weeks and I don’t have much grey yet, but I still think it’s pretty. I get lectured now and then by people who tell me (with the best of intentions I’m sure) that I need to dye my hair because I’m too young to be grey. Silly. Silly like lying about our ages. Why would I want to skip or delete any part of life?
Fabulous post! So true – and so important to name this, and also recognise how much these sorts of pressures impact on us, even as we try and resist. Embrace the wrinkles! Embrace our age, experience – because to do otherwise is to deny the years we have lived.
Love the story of that 85 y/o. Reminds me of an Aussie novelist who writes wonderful novels about older women – having fun, having lives (and yes even sex!)
It has taken me about 25 years , but I love my grey hair. OK, when I get it super short, there is a ring of grey in the back that reminds me of badger fur, so I keep it longer. My bright red face is from genetics and a lot of sun trashing when I was younger. Why did I think hot pink skin made my blue eyes stand out?
I laugh a lot now about how my 20 year-old self would react if she saw me and knew I was her future. I joke that she would scream in horror and take drastic measures to make sure she never turned out like I did. “OMG! What are you wearing? Seriously? That is like, so last season! Oh. My. God. Kill me now- those aren’t (gasp) BIRKENSTOCKS we are wearing? Don’t get all huffy with me and say it’s because of the cheap shoes I am wearing now! Those $15 pink heels were delish! When did you last wax your legs? Don’t tell me you gave up shaving because no one can tell! And our hair! The hair I spend so much money on to transform into something completely different? It’s all grey and stuff! EEEW! I will not even contemplate our ‘mom body’- I think I am going to faint.”
The funny thing is, I would love to taker her by the hand and ask her kindly not to trash her skin- something my mother never did- she grew up in a trashed-skin community on the water. I would tell her how fun it is to be us now, even though it looks so different. It really is fabulous to be me. It got a lot more fabulous as I was able to ignore others’ opinions about how I don’t fit in.
I am glad you are getting it now instead of waiting until you are in your 40s.
Hooray for all of us crepey, wrinkly, saggy, beautiful women! And a very timely post, with the recent passing of Nora Ephron, whose book “I Feel Bad About My Neck” was a brilliant & witty piece of work on aging.
I love this. I love the fact that you wrote it, I agree with everything you said in it and I adore that sassy lady. And as a twenty-year-old in an industry that is increasingly going for a pretty face over a voice, thank you.
I’m 46. I have crow’s feet that will soon show when I’m not laughing/smiling/squinting. I stopped coloring my hair over 4 years ago and I’m 80-85% grey. I love these things about me. 🙂
I think of those fabulous portraits I’ve seen of very old men and women whose faces are masses of wrinkles and their smiles are full of joy and their eyes radiate happiness.
I want that same joy and happiness shining from my face as I grow older and I’ll earn every laugh line I accumulate along the way!
LOVE THIS POST!
Lise M Andersen
I like my face – fine lines and all. I’m 59. No biggie 🙂