I was 16 years old when I found my first gray hair—silver and sparkling like a spider’s web in the fluorescent light.
I don’t remember thinking much more than, “I’m much too young for this to be happening.”
The social climate of the world has always been particularly demanding of women. We are taught that our beauty is the most important thing we have, and that this beauty should be pursued, not manifested.
As a result, there is a universal fear that lives inside every woman—fear of the day that she will lose her beauty. Just listen to Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful.”
For me, this dread didn’t fully set in until the naive age of 23, when I noticed three more silver hairs and realized I might be “too old” to pursue the modeling opportunities offered to me just a few years earlier. The next day, I made an appointment with my stylist to dye my hair. The name of my new shade: “blood of my enemies” red.
This was the beginning of a series of self-imposed limitations that I would set over the next year. Whether it was writing, vlogging, or school, I believed every goal I had set out to achieve would be much easier if I were younger. I was consumed by the thought of all the opportunities I had missed by squandering my youth.
For the first time in my life, I began wearing makeup on a daily basis; I colored my waterline white to make my eyes appear larger and more doe-like, and began to moisturize my face with a frequency bordering on obsession.
Friends and strangers’ comments about my attractiveness didn’t happen any less, and yet, there was not a time in my life where I felt less beautiful. I had become so fixated on my vanity that I stopped nourishing the qualities that truly made me appear and feel “beautiful.”
It didn’t occur to me what these qualities were until I was out to eat with a female friend who anonymously bought dinner for a sad-looking older man sitting alone in a corner booth. At that moment, she had never appeared more beautiful to me—and she was well past her 20s.
It became clear at that moment that the qualities I had always admired in other women were not the superficial ones. The women who enchanted me were successful, talented, kind, and funny. If I wanted to hold a candle to their timelessness, I was going to have to begin cultivating a different kind of beauty—one that was more pure.
Over the next few months, I identified and implemented a few strategies to help me achieve that. When I embraced these three practices, I no longer found it necessary to always put on my second face before leaving the house (though no shame to anyone who does). It was the most beautiful I had felt in a long time. I no longer felt controlled by the fear of losing youth that is prophesized for a woman from the day she is born.
May these practices be of benefit:
1. Exercise your mind, not just your body.
If you really want to be beautiful forever: read. Familiarize yourself with the world around you, because an educated woman will always have fascinating things to say.
Connect with other people, especially those who are “different,” and practice the art of listening, because nothing can be learned while speaking.
Gain an understanding of a chosen discipline, and then apply that knowledge in a way that benefits humanity.
Know that you have so much more to offer the world than your aesthetic. After a while, the novelty of an attractive body will fade, but people will never grow tired of a beautiful mind.
2. Grow, don’t stabilize.
Embody a state of metamorphosis. A woman only loses her beauty because she chooses to stay the same after the harvest of her youth.
The impassioned woman ages with grace because she knows it is the foundation from which she will build her empire. She understands that the passage of time is not something that should be mourned, but a necessary function for achieving her goals.
People will watch with curious awe as the passionate woman accomplishes everything she sets her mind to. They will live vicariously through her, and she will rightfully become their muse—igniting the same passion, lust for life, and growth in her audience.
3. Foster kindness, not vanity.
The beautiful woman understands the power of energy. Rather than recycling the negative energy she receives back into society, she transforms it into love, touching the souls of everyone she meets and sending ripples of kindness through her community.
She speaks fondly and kindly to others because she knows that it is a form of beauty that transfers from person to person. When she uses her power to help strangers, she becomes an eternal catalyst of goodness, leaving her scar on the fabric of time.
Instead of obsessing over the fleeting external manifestation of herself, she radiates internal beauty, looking for ways to spread the language of love, and inspire hope in humanity.
The eternally beautiful woman stays that way because she knows that there are many ays to inspire her onlookers. She knows that her talents, creativity, passion, intellect, and ambitions are a greater investment than botox and makeup—despite what the media tries to tell her.
I’m 24 years old and that doesn’t mean much, except that my body has circled the sun 24 times, and I am slightly more experienced than I was before.
I have several gray hairs now, but I sport them like badges of wisdom.
When I look in the mirror, I don’t think of myself as growing older, I think of myself as becoming more myself—and for the first time in a long time, I know I am beautiful.
Author: Christina Lewis
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Lindsey Block