Claudia Herriman of Longmeadow, Massachusetts wrote a very insightful article for the Springfield Republican on her plans to get some plastic surgery done. She had been told repeatedly that the lines on her upper lip were making her look old and resolved to do something about it. After consulting with her doctor, she was informed the healing process would take four weeks and she arranged her life to make time for this. And then she had an epiphany: “One morning while getting dressed, I look critically at myself in the mirror and have to laugh. I say, “You are such a jerk, Claude; it’s not only your upper lip that’s getting old, it’s your whole body.” And I call the plastic surgeon’s office and cancel the whole procedure.”
We women are awfully harsh in the self-evaluation of our bodies. There is always something to be improved, some flaw to be corrected. Even beautiful movie stars aren’t immune to this criticism – just look at how many get plastic surgery or criticize their own appearance in public. There is this obsession with youth, that if you don’t look twenty-one, you have ceased to have value to society.
I totally disagree that at the age of thirty, or forty, or eighty, for that matter, we stop being beautiful. I think that there is a self-assurance that comes with getting older. My friends and I are all in our thirties and early forties. I think that many of them are more attractive now than when they were younger. Yes, youth has a vitality and a beauty all its own, but a woman gains a special something as she becomes more comfortable in her skin. There is a glow that comes from the inside, a self-confidence that radiates. There is a joy that comes from leaving the awkwardness of adolescence and young adulthood behind and becoming a mature woman. There is a beauty in caring more about what you can bring to the world than in caring about what people think when they look at you.
God gave us these bodies and he made them so that they would age. I accept that aging is part of the process of living. Yes, I no longer look eighteen. I have laugh lines and a few grey hairs (getting more every day!). Motherhood changed my body. Time will continue to change it. When I look in the mirror, I certainly notice the changes, but they don’t define me. All women are beautiful, no matter what their age. True beauty comes from the inside and the wisdom and increased capacity to love that comes with age only enhances that.