Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Age and Beauty

"I think that if you're lucky enough to get old, you should celebrate it!" - Iris Apfel, MAC Cosmetics model

Last week I saw this story on the Today Show and it really got me thinking about age and beauty. If you have a few minutes, it's totally worth watching! The basic premise of the story is that advertisers are finally catching on that 50 isn't the new 40; 50 is 50. 50 is beautiful, and so is 60 and 90 for that matter! The piece highlights Iris Apfel, who is a new face of MAC Cosmetics and 90 years old. Apparently the lipstick that she's selling sold out in 2 weeks. People love Iris. I love Iris! She was beautiful and so insightful about age. She really got me thinking...

My Mom was only 57 when she died and she was incredibly beautiful. She was striking. She wore her hair as short as short gets, little to no make-up and a big beautiful smile. She radiated beauty, to me, until the day she died. When Iris says "if you're lucky enough to get old, you should celebrate it!" I nearly cried. What a poignant thought! Why shouldn't the lines of experience on our faces be celebrated and embraced?! Isn't that celebrating our lives? Why are we so afraid to celebrate a 50th or 60th birthday for fear of getting old? Isn't that the goal? I will promise you right now that if I have the privileged of living until I'm 6o, I will celebrate!

Lately I've looked at my reflection and seen someone old. My face seems to have aged 10 years in the last 12 months. Life has been tough and I am tired, so I suppose it only makes sense. But still, I haven't enjoyed the feeling of looking old. But Iris (and Valerie Ransey who was also a guest on the show) got me thinking... Those lines around my eyes, they're lines of laughter and tears. Lines of strength, perseverance and worry... Those lines are me! Now, I'm not certain that I can fully embrace the dark circles that have permanently taken up residence under my eyes. But perhaps I can embrace the fact that while life may age a person in some ways, it can also rejuvenate you in others.

In the past year I have slept less - a lot less! Anxiety, worry, grief and a hungry newborn are not a recipe for good rest! I have worried more. I've had to face some of the most difficult challenges I could imagine. I've carried and delivered a baby, nurtured a toddler and said good-by to my best friend. I've encouraged and supported my Husband as he earns his Master's degree. I've worked full-time. I've done a lot... All of these things have aged me in many ways. But while my face is looking old and drab... my imagination is more alive than it's been in decades!

After watching this piece, I went and had breakfast with Jack. While we waited for our oatmeal, Jack colored. He told me that he was drawing a penguin and a polar bear. He knew which was which, even though to me it looked like scribble. Watching his creativity and imagination really made me think about age. I think that seeing life through the eyes of a toddler does wonders for your soul! It has helped me find humor and compassion. It's helped me to feel really alive in otherwise drab and boring moments. It's helped make life more of a fun adventure than a stressful chore. I assure you, my imagination is much younger than the lines on my face and the dark circles around my eyes!

I'm working towards appreciating that all of my experiences make me who I am. I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I have more love than I thought was possible. And I am determined to find gratitude for all the things that could be worse... My lines represent my life and life is worth celebrating!

"... the real beauty comes from, above all, from confidence and from having courage to be ourselves. From the wisdom that we have acquired within ourselves over the years. From vibrancy; excitement about being involved in life. And it's when all of those things are on the inside and shine through on the outside. That's what real beauty is all about" - Valerie Ramsey, 72 year old model

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