Our societal attitudes regarding physical beauty tend to inform the way we regard aging and the accompanying “loss of beauty.” For most boomers and beyond, we no longer have skin that is taut and smooth, hair full and shining, a flat belly or a thin waistline. Gone are those days.
“Are you Ok? You look tired.”
Since I didn’t feel tired, I wondered what they meant, but then I came to understand I was somehow now “over the hill” and on the downslide.
It is true. After a certain age, depending on our genes, the environment we live and breath in and how well we take care of ourselves, beauty fades and we are no longer thought to be someone who is attractive to look at. We might as well be “put out to pasture” and join the unseen, the unnoticed .
However, we may be able to put up a good fight against letting go of our looks, if we care to, if it is important for us. And it might not be, if you think trying to look good is all about vanity and superficiality and not a quality you seek to develop. And besides, you save a lot of money and aggravation if you do give up trying to look better and you just surrender into the senior years.
Or if not, the Anti-Aging Industry is a huge business, directed especially to the baby boomers and hoping to get our attention. They try to convince us we can do it differently than previous generations; we don’t have to get old, or at least not look or feel old. They let us know we can join a gym, hire a personal trainer, buy any number of beauty products lining the aisles, have hair or breast implants, suck out the fat if exercise and diet don’t work. We are offered botox to freeze the frown lines or fillers to puff up the face. Lasers can resurface the skin and the ore radical cosmetic surgery can make us look ten years younger. We can color our hair and have it cut in a stylish way, buy the latest fashions... and on and on.
It takes a lot more self care as we move up in age. Just to get of the house to go to work or to an event or even to the market, requires much more time than it use to. There are more and more details to take into consideration in order to look at least more presentable, if not attractive to the eye.
Is it just vanity that motivates us to spend a small fortune on these products and procedures? Or is it a way to hold onto a more attractive and rested look? In a competitive world where youth and beauty are adored and the elderly are greatly and sadly marginalized, taking steps to look and feel healthy and younger may be thought of as just one more step in caring about how you present yourself to the outer world.
But this is only the outer self. Aging, of course, affects what is going on inside. Our cells do not multiply as they once did. The joints, muscles and organs are much more affected as we become older. There is scientific evidence a healthy diet and exercising regularly help to maintain strength and flexibility. Keeping the weight off helps to protect the heart and the joints and is an all important ingredient in slowing down the aging process.
Beyond diet and exercise, help is available through vitamins and herbs and healing practices like massage and yoga to reduce stress. As in all health matters, we must become informed consumers. The choices abound and the research and evidence concerning slowing down aging are readily available in medical journals and newsletters. There is no excuse for giving up and giving in to being old. Yes, aging is a process that is undeniable, but we do have some control over remaining ageless and timeless , and as attractive as we can be.
And then at the end of the day, it is best to accept and love who you see before you, making peace with all the outer flaws while honoring your inner beauty and the abiding courage it takes to grow older.