Recognizing Natural as Normal: Aging Gracefully

Recognizing Natural as Normal: Aging

This month on Studio 5 we’re focusing on “all things natural.” But it seems
the beauty industry preaches a completely different message, encouraging
women to look younger, to cover up and to conceal what naturally happens
to our body with age. So how can we come to recognize the natural aging
process as normal…even beautiful?

Studio 5 Beauty and Style Contributor Holly Stone and LaNae Valentine with
BYU Women’s Services weigh in.

In Holly’s Words:

The word “natural” has become such a buzz term. In most cases we
subscribe to the thought that “natural” is better. We look for natural food,
natural clothing fibers, and natural cleaning products. We drink bottled
water from natural spring sources. and apply all-natural lotions and lip
balms. We wear natural colors to the office and look for natural remedies
for weight loss or aches and pains. We even ask for a natural look when at
our hair stylist or when getting a makeover. But when Natural comes in the
form of aging? Natural is an enemy, a robber. We bring out the big guns to
fight the Natural. Why? Because aging is Change and change in any form,
natural or not, is difficult.

We have been looking in mirrors since we were children. And for the most
part, the same face has been looking back. The signs of aging creep up
slowly but seem to literally appear overnight, usually about the time we feel
we are in our prime. To add fuel to the fire, every magazine we see
indicates that beauty is plump lips, taut skin, bright eyes, rich colored hair,
energy to run marathons and manage households. Oh, and a firm body in
that pair of boutique jeans.

It is an uncomfortable moment when we notice that we are VISUALLY
changing. Our lips are deflating, our eyelids are sagging, we no longer
attribute the multiple deep lines to a laugh and this metallic silver in our
hair is an unwelcomed accessory. And so the battle begins. We fight
because what we feel in our hearts and believe in our minds is not
consistent with what we see in the mirror. We compare ourselves to the
magazines and even our neighbor next door. We then strive to resist the
change, we fight the Natural.

We are fortunate to live in a technological time of options to resist, delay
and even correct signs of aging. We have the power to keep Mr. Age at
bay. But along life’s progression, physical beauty can be taken from us at
any time by age, disease, or accident. The more important part of beauty
resides within you. Don’t forfeit the opportunities to nurture your inner
beauty while in pursuit of delaying age. Inner beauty is yours and cannot be
taken away by time, age or disease. Your power to radiate beauty from
within makes you more powerful than the most skilled surgeon. You can
beat the Natural by being YOU!

I recently had that moment where I looked in the mirror and noticed
disparity between how young I feel and the lines on my face. My lips are
losing their pout and in effort to return to a more natural hair color, I
recently caught my first glimpse of grey. Ignorance from years of coloring
my hair blonde was bliss. At the sight of the grey and with the appearance
of some new wrinkles, I started to prepare for the battle.

Being in the fashion and beauty industry, I am acutely aware of my options.
But a bigger battle has been brewing inside me. Because while in pursuit of
weapons to fight my aging and retain my youthful beauty I also KNOW from
personal experience that change builds character. I have earned my
maturing face. My lines ARE the indication of smiles and laughter. And
while I will personally choose to resist the grey, I FEEL beautiful- in this
moment, at this stage of life. That feeling translates into action and neither
time nor age can dictate how I act. That is solely up to me. This is my Ah
Ha-beauty and grace are found in Action NOT appearance. I am beautiful.
Mr. Age-bring it!!

In LaNae’s Words:

I think women struggle with the natural effects of aging because we live in
a culture that values beauty and youth. Beauty and youth are equated with
worth. So naturally, women want to look their best. Youth is supposed to
be the pinnacle of life, everything supposedly goes downhill when we begin
to age. I think women fear aging and the loss of their beauty because we
fear we will no longer be valued or have a voice. We fear we will no longer
be noticed. Plus, since so many women are resorting to more extreme
measures to stay young looking it puts pressure on all women to look as
young as possible.

There is beauty in an aging woman’s body and face if we would allow our
eyes to see it. We’ve been brainwashed into defining and seeing beauty in
a very narrow way. There is beauty in the wear and tear and the toll life
takes on a woman’s body, the stretch marks and wider hips from giving
birth, the wrinkles in a woman’s face from worry and laughter, the crooked,
arthritic fingers from hands that have cooked hundreds of meals, patted
foreheads, comforted sick children, as well as a myriad of other acts
compiling a life well lived. There is beauty in the face of a woman wise
with experience that can’t be found in a Botox treatment or palates of
makeup. We have to train our eyes to see real beauty.

One of the positives of aging is a lessening of anxiety about what other
people think and about fitting in. There is less comparing and competing.
We can get away from the worries of not being smart enough, talented
enough, thin enough, good enough. There are studies that people over 50
and 60, find the later part of life to be the happiest time or their lives. I
think as we age our happiness and well-being will be more dependent
upon our relationships, talents, the meaning and purpose we find in life,
and the ability to contribute, relax and enjoy life more than on how we

After one morning of fretting over my thinning hair and declaring that I will
not accept the fact that I’m losing my hair, I received a random (and maybe
not so coincidental) e-mail during the day about the good attitude of a lady
who was losing her hair. She woke up one morning and discovered she
only had three hairs left on her head. She exclaimed, I think I’ll braid my
hair today. The next day, she only had two hairs on her head. She said
today I think I’ll part my hair in the middle. The next day she only had one
hair left and exclaimed I think I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail today. The
following day she woke to find she had no hairs left on her head. She
looked in the mirror and said, great, I don’t have to worry about fixing my
hair today. The e-mail reminded me of the need to roll with whatever
comes to us, to maintain a sense of humor, and to trust it and love life no
matter what happens. Rather than fighting and resisting the aging process,
I want to accept it. Oh, I could pay a lot of money and get hair implants or
invest in those grow your hair back treatments, or even buy a really nice
wig. I still have some options if I go bald. Or I can accept it.

I think our real beauty is captured in our characters and in the wisdom we
accumulate over the years. Real beauty is captured in accepting and
trusting that there are important and valuable lessons to be learned from
my aging body. Accepting and submitting to the fact that I’m not in
control. The happiness and fulfillment I’m seeking really isn’t found in how
I look. Yes, I want to look my best until the day I die. But I’m not going to
fight the aging process. If I go bald, I go bald. I’m sure there is a valuable
lesson for me to learn.

The development of acceptance, submission, trust, patience, kindness –
these are the lessons of age. These are the crowning touches of beauty.

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