When I was in my teens and early twenties, I had a very specific idea about what made a woman beautiful. This ideal was tied very heavily to exterior appearances: her genetics, how well she wore her makeup, or how often she was styled in the latest clothing trends. And those were the expressions of beauty I tried to emulate, from borrowing clothing that I felt made me look more like the women I compared myself to; to spending money that was not in my full-time-college-student-part-time-retail-working budget, on products from the MAC counter. I gave little thought to what role character played in the equation or why being beautiful on the inside was essential.
Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I have a vastly different ideal of beauty that’s a result of maturity, life experience and “the struggle”—nothing will reset your values and priorities faster than going through trials and having those life-defining moments. Don’t misunderstand: I still think it’s a ton of fun to play in makeup and I make it a point to wear beautiful, quality clothing—but now, I also think that laugh lines add interest around a woman’s mouth, that grey hair hints at wisdom and an abundance of lessons learned, that there’s a softening of the body that makes her curves feel more womanly, and that truly owning herself—whoever, or whatever she is—are paramount to a woman’s true beauty.
Now that I am older, I relish confidence, sweetness of spirit and healthy inspired living as indicators of beauty—all things that begin as an inside job. I can’t count the number of times I’ve met someone new and her beauty radiated through warmth and a smile and a connectedness that had nothing to do with what she physically looked like.
So I work to invest more time into the things that make me wiser, warmer, healthier and stronger—knowing that they’ll produce the kind of beauty that matters to me now.
There are a few things I incorporate regularly into my “beauty” routine:
Self-Development and Self-Care
I make an effort to meditate, journal and/or read every single day. There are few days where I hit all three, but any one of them can lift my spirit and leave me feeling motivated and inspired.
Mediation increases my self-awareness and helps me to appreciate the things that make me unique—regardless of whether those things are physical or otherwise. It helps me to develop thoughts and ideas, and boosts my creativity and productivity—things that make me happy and ultimately make me feel more beautiful.
― Sophia Loren
Journaling is a way to get all my ugly thoughts down on paper so that I can see them clearly—and then counter them. When I get lost in comparison and self-doubt, writing it all out helps to purge it so that I can get back to focusing on the good.
Sometimes nothing makes me feel beautiful more quickly than treating myself really well: giving myself a manicure; taking the time to luxuriate in a shower with scrubs and cleansers and delicious fragrances; getting a massage; having my hair shampooed and straightened; trying out a new lip color. These are seemingly little things, but they often make a really big difference—not because of what they present on the outside, but because they serve as an overall reset and refresh.
My diet plays a HUGE role in making me feel beautiful. As I’ve gotten older, my body has changed and demanded different things than it used to. In short, when I don’t eat well, I get sick and my body starts to shut down. I most certainly don’t feel beautiful when I’m sick and my skin is irritated! So I make it a priority to eat foods that are nutrient rich, that give me energy and that keep me feeling well. Not only does clean eating make me feel better, but even the acts of choosing healthy foods and preparing them from scratch give me the feeling that I’m doing something really beautiful for myself.
Developing my own signature style has saved me a lot of time and trouble comparing myself to other women. Not every style or trend works for every woman; so learning what shapes work best for my particular body type, what colors highlight my skin tone, and getting to know what I feel really really great in has saved me a lot of grief! I might be wearing a dress in a room full of people in jeans, but wearing what I know works for me increases my confidence level ten fold, and allows me to be focused on being present and being in the room as opposed to worrying about what I look like. A woman who is having a great time, and not being self-conscious or hiding in the corner is so beautiful!
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about beauty as you’ve gotten older?