I’m 40. Some days, it’s a harsh and painful reality.
Every time I look in the mirror, I do a double take because I don’t know where my 27-year-old body has gone. My tumultuous youth went down in a blaze of glory and now I wander around aimlessly through fields of wrinkles. My once firm bottom (that you could play tiddlywinks off of) is now the consistency of day-old vanilla mousse.
My once taught complexion tattle-tales my extensive life history with deep smile lines and crackled crow’s feet. No, I’m not squinting, I’m trying to be sultry. My stomach has never been the same since I birthed that beauty of a baby in ’98. Now, silver tiger stripes of stretch marks litter my thighs like I’ve been to war and won.
Each year, I collect another handful of scars on the “scratch and dent” shelf of life. I may be vintage, but I’ll be damned if I don’t hold my value!
You know what, though? I’ve realized wherever we are in life, we look at ourselves and wish for something else. Maybe we compare ourselves to our own body from decades past, or rather to the flawless models in magazines. Regardless of who we compare ourselves to, the truth is we diminish our value just by entertaining the thought.
Let’s face it, looks are important, but has there ever been an ugly, self-loving person? Really, though. Anyone who is clean and wearing a smile is attractive in some way—even if it’s just an air of positive energy.
The moment we equate our worth with our physical appearance we become cheap.
Objectification is more than just a catchy feminist buzzword. Self-objectification is literally taking on the, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” mentality. I see too many women go out of their way to be the prettiest flower in the pot. The result is clickbaiting for cleavage, likes for long legs, and bravados for bouncy bums.
I see Millennial babies on Facebook doubting their appearance when to me they look absolutely stunning. Are we ever happy? My God, if we feel this insecure at 20, what will happen in 30 years?
When I was in my early 20s, someone told me everyone young was beautiful but they never see it until they’re older. I am living proof of that statement.
I wish I would have appreciated my elasticity when I had it, or the natural dewy glow of being fresh-faced in the world. Now that I’m pushing 40, I understand there is more to life than appearances. If I am to strive for something, it’ll be for more than this superficial human ideal.
What about a sunset? Why not objectify yourself as a sunset? Multifaceted, warm, and golden. Limitless and temporarily glorious. What about the sea? Deep and mysterious. Powerful, unpredictable, and guided by the moon. Or a butterfly? Delicate, evolved, and ready to take flight. Today, I’ll be a butterfly.
Why do we limit our comparisons to other humans when we have such magnanimous models in nature that have proven themselves unfaltering and unceasingly gorgeous?
We are amazing beings. What we have in our souls is equivalent to the unlimited beauty of a sunset, the depth of the sea, and the miraculous growth of a butterfly.
Let’s give ourselves credit for the vast array of things that don’t hinge on our physicalities. What have we done in life to give us those stretch marks? What made our hair turn gray? Surviving the quest called life, every twist and turn, years of warriorship and navigation—they all add up. We earned our wear and tear.
In this light, I have a practice for all the aging beauties out there:
Sit down and write a list of all the things you appreciate about yourself. Only write things that have nothing to do with your physical appearance. Write about your accomplishments and adventures, the obstacles you surmounted, and challenges you won. Write about happy moments you made and smiles you inspired.
Then, write how you will continue to invest in this kind of value. Write how you will take care of your health, or cook your favorite vitamin-rich dinner. Write how you will stand up for what’s right and decline what no longer serves you. Decide from now on you are looking ahead.
This is what makes us truly valuable. Sometimes it takes getting older to realize it, once we no longer have control over gravity’s effect on our asses.
Physical beauty is fleeting. It’s like a castle in the sand, it’s bound to fade and disappear. If we put all our eggs in the beauty basket, we’re denying ourselves credit for the incredible dimension of all we are. If we’re going to objectify ourselves, let’s at least find something worthy of the comparison.
Something as solid and time-tested as us.
Author: Amber Long
Image: Wikipedia Commons
Editor: Danielle Beutell