Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Being Really Young Doesn't Last Forever

I have friends of all ages, and when I worked in social services in the past, I had clients in their nineties. I see age as nothing more than a number. I'm no longer twenty, but I'm not old either. I find that for the most part, if you are an intelligent person and keep learning, you'll get smarter as you get older - and hopefully wiser too - which is a whole other matter. But in America, we are obsessed with youth. In film, in magazines, in fashion...even more so if you're a woman. It's actually all quite silly because why does it matter?

Once you get into your forties, there's a peace that comes with it. You get to know yourself better. You are more outspoken where you used to be more shy. You drive your life less by what other people think. You know your style and what works for you. You know what your strengths and talents are. And your friendships become stronger and deeper.

I am consistently guessed to be many years younger than I am. It might be my long hair, it might be because I was lucky to get my mother's skin, it might be my free-spirited attitude, it might be because I have a passion for life and an upbeat attitude. It might be a combination of all of the above. I don't hide my age and I'm glad I am where I am now. I make a point of being open-minded and staying current with music, with fashion, with computers - not because I want to stay young forever, but because I'm naturally curious and interested and want to keep learning. I know people in their sixties who seem younger and people in their twenties who seem older. So much of it's about the attitude.

I loved Europe when I was there a few years ago, and plan to go back again sometime soon. The history, the beauty, and the architecture in Europe is wonderful...but, France, in particular, is a huge draw for me. Since I used to speak fluent French as well, the idea of someday living in Paris or outside the city is something I plan to do when I'm older. One of the many cool things about the French: They think women of all ages are beautiful. They always have. They don't fight to stay young, they celebrate the age they are at. 

In an introduction to her short essay in Marie Claire, "Boiling Down That French Sense of Je Ne Sais Quoi," Garance Doré has a great quote that I just love: "Beauty comes from living an interesting life, not trying to freeze time."
"The 40s are when we grow into our real beauty, which is what we've earned by allowing ourselves to not worry too much about our appearance. In fact, I would say knowing herself is the biggest strength of the French woman. These are also the years when we become more precise with our beauty routines—perhaps a richer lotion, a visit to the dermatologist, a few Pilates classes or brisk walks. Next come the decades of being fully yourself, and your most desirable.
 And maybe that's the ultimate French beauty secret: We don't freak out too much about age. Wrinkles and little shadows under our eyes don't really count. Of course, if anything bothers us, we'll take care of it, but never within the fantasy of getting back to an age of innocence and naïveté—we just enjoy what we have without questioning it too much. As long as each day is lived to the fullest, we have nothing to regret—only to be thankful for the beautiful women we've become, inside and out."
How can you not appreciate that? Who cares if you have some wrinkles or don't look exactly like you did when you were twenty. I love my friends and family that are younger - and older - but, the obsession with youth is both limiting and boring. Just as diversity in race and culture makes things more interesting, so does diversity in age.

The truth of the matter is that youth is fun and free - and it seems like it will go on forever. But, it doesn't. And to fight to stay young forever doesn't offer up much for growth either. If you chase after youth like many Hollywood actresses do, it really limits your potential to grow into the person you are meant to become.

Maybe if we all accepted the fact that we'll age right along with everyone else and follow France's example a bit more, we'd be happier and more content - and much less worried about society's idea of what the ideal woman looks like. It just isn't reality. And I, for one, am quite thankful for that.

1 comment:

corine said...

Lovely post and all I needed to hear today :)