I’m sitting on a couch with a friend I haven’t seen in a few months.
I listen to her as she shares her panic about turning 40 very soon, and all her beauty concerns are up in her deliciously puckered expression. She stares into my eyes and suddenly blinks astonished as I remind her that I am 42.
“How do you handle this new decade so graciously?” she asks.
Well, I confess, the transition from being 30-something to being 40-something does feel like an initiation of sorts. At first, embracing the body’s changes (like hair growing in odd places—what is that about?) felt like I was certainly losing it.
But what happens at 40 is nothing short of miraculous. Rather than being outwardly obsessed, the focus is deliciously brought inwards and a new sense of fulfillment is discovered and allowed to blossom. Beauty does indeed start to feel, and radiate, from a confident deep place within.
There is so much to celebrate about being 40. In most ways life is ten times better than what I envisioned it, and here is why:
1. The mind is more flexible and I can easily tell a new story.
Instead of “wrinkles are bad,” I can easily see that they are evidence of lifelines; joys, sorrows, and a life fully lived with all its spectrum of experiences.
2. My closet is more fun.
The clothes in my closet are no longer dictated by trends in fashion but are now based on ways I get to express myself creatively.
3. I no longer need to diet to keep optimal weight.
As my focus has changed from ‘being skinny’ to being healthy, I invest my money in products that support good health, like gut flora-promoting probiotics, which allow me to absorb more of the nutrients I eat and help me maintain my ideal weight.
4. I naturally embrace a more wholistic picture of what it means to be beautiful.
Beauty at 40 is more of a sensual experience and has more to do with how I feel inside than how I look on the outside.
5. I’ve stopped trying to be somebody else.
I love what I’ve been given.
In my 40’s I stopped trying to make myself something I wasn’t. I actually started to own, accept and love all of what I’ve been given. Instead of continuing to delude myself that I can change my body, hair, skin, and shape, I now get to embrace all parts of me.
6. My flaws have become my greatest gifts.
I used to hate my nose and now I see it gives my face character. The things I thought I wanted to change about myself are now my greatest assets that get to accentuate my personality and style. I find this especially true in a world where plastic surgery is so prominent and where everyone is starting to look the same.
7. I move with incredible freedom…and this brings me inexhaustible joy.
I notice as women we don’t move freely in our culture. We walk on a treadmill because it makes our butt firmer, but we forgo and forget to sway our hips to stay in shape, and contain our joy to acceptable sonorous levels. This all goes out the window when you have lost your need to please and to be somebody you’re not.
8. I’ve literally stopped worrying about what everyone thinks of me.
How does that happen? Just with the deep realization and understanding that people will think and do whatever they think and do, and that no matter how much you pretend you have control, you don’t. And that is that. Reality is good; and I embrace it.
9. I question my beliefs.
I question my beliefs about beauty, about what I think I should or shouldn’t look like, about my thighs and the pretty thirty-year-old thighs sitting across from me. It’s a good practice and keeps me sane.
10. I make my life simple.
I use fewer products, with fewer ingredients in them. I keep everything in my life cleaner and simpler. Not just my make-up case, but also all other aspects of my life.
11. I wear my clothes rather than them wearing me.
When I walk into a room now people see me first rather than my sexy outfit. My clothes and make-up enhance my natural beauty rather than becoming the main attraction.
12. I read the labels on the foods I eat and also in the skincare products I use.
There is one thing that keeps me looking young and that is the clean food I put in my mouth and the skin products that keep me protected from the toxic overload we are hit with daily.
13. I don’t try to escape change.
Change is a natural aspect I now want to discover. I’m more curious than ever in redefining what beauty could feel and look like with my particular shape and tastes. (And there’s an added bonus to this: no more injections to freeze my face. Honestly, some things just don’t make sense!)
14. I don’t try (or pretend) to be perfect.
I acknowledge and co-operate with the fact that sometimes I am simply a human bean. Yes, I literally look like one at times. And that is okay at 40-something.
15. In a culture where everyone is trying to be young, I try to be me.
I am learning that the standard of beauty the industry has defined does not necessarily give space to the various characteristics of beauty that naturally come with age (and that native and indigenous cultures so sublimely exemplify and revere).
16. I revere myself as a woman.
This means first and foremost to see myself as creator: I create my inner world, create my sense of aesthetics, and sensually create my environment everyday. We have been given a womb with which we create life. I cherish using this unique gift of womanhood to embrace myself creatively and honesty.
17. I keep encouraging myself to expand my definition of beauty.
At 40 I’ve gained a real attraction and appreciation for the perfectly imperfect: Beauty the Wabi-Sabi way, as I like to call it. The traits that charm and delight me are intriguing and full-flavored.
18. I no longer live from outside of myself.
I’ve come to see that there is nothing missing from the scene of this movie of my life. In the past it was easy to fall prey to the illusion that my image could bring me more…more happiness, more money, more success, and more love. Now at 40, I know who I am, what this one likes and doesn’t like, and in that live from a state of completion.
19. I start from where I am now.
I’ve shifted my attention from what I’m not to who I am, from what is absent to what is present, to what is missing to what has been given and can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful mystery that I am.
20. I’m filled with gratitude each day.
What could be more wonderful than embracing the wrinkles, scars, and sunspots given to me by the hands of time? I’ve gotten here and have so much more to go!
I encourage you to find your own definition of beauty in your 40’s.
What makes you feel beautiful?
Start where you are and let’s grow this manifesto together.
Author: Jasmine Scalesciani Hawken
Editor: Renée Picard
Artwork: Author’s Own