A little filler here? Time for a bit of Botox there? Do I just feel weird about aging?
I find Cardi zooming in on her every image in her phone gallery, interrogating every line, every blemish, and pore so closely. I see her constantly comparing her appearance to the photoshopped photos of models in magazines, social media feeds, and timelines. She just turned 35 yesterday but spends hours comparing herself to the younger version of her own self, to the filtered version of herself, and looking back in the mirror to see how she wants to see herself.
It's not just the Cardi alone; as a female, I can most certainly relate to all the other women out there who don't feel satisfied with their looks or want to age back.
It's normal to worry about our appearance when we learn to emphasize the beauty standards in fairy tales since our childhood. Heroes and heroines are all depicted as young and beautiful (remember 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Sleeping beauty', …?) while the grey characters look so hideous such as old witches, trolls, ugly stepsisters, …
We also see how everyday media promotes beauty commercials starring young girls, talking about cosmetic surgery, hair-colorants, extensions, fake tan, false eyelashes, and whatnot. The message conveyed is that YOU NEED TO WORK ON YOUR APPEARANCE TO LOOK YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL, which would be sufficient enough for any female to cause body image anxiety.
You see, the skinny want to be curvier, the short want to be tall, thicker hair, thinner nose, pouty lips ... I could be here for ages listing all the possible concerns of various women around the world.
I think it's safe to say we've all been there.
Sadly, body dysmorphia is a whole different kettle of fish!
Body image issues are insidious. The 'hate' for oneself can go much, much further... down a dark, dismal road into a bad and heart-breaking world that can make you feel so embarrassed, ashamed, and the loneliest person on earth.
You'll find lots of talk on body dysmorphia about how women of all ages struggle to build an ideal shaped curvy body just like a fitness coach on Instagram or get the nose job done for a perfect selfie-face, but there's another boat filled with women over 40 who suffer from age dysmorphic issues.
Watching our face changing as we age can be hard and we question how others would perceive us.
Many, many women with/without body image issues struggle with feeling like the older they look, the less worthy. The appearance of pigmentation, formation of fine lines, puffy eyes and other signs of aging can lead them to self-scrutiny, anxiety, and lower self-esteem. Therefore, they do things like Botox, buy expensive anti-aging creams and other procedures and even surgery to look younger and more desirable.
"As I'm getting older, I actually feel less comfortable about the way I look," says Nana*, 41. "I'm a confident professional but am angry thinking about my weight and the lines on my face."
Of course, you feel anxious when you aren't comfortable in your own skin!
Women over 40 face a myriad of factors that influence how they feel about their appearance, from experiencing their body change to feeling under pressure to rid themselves of lines or grey hairs. These factors can be aging, life stages, and the underrepresentation of older women in the media.
Ignoring the beauty of women over 40 leaves them feeling insecure, disconnected, and less desirable.
So, in the act of looking younger than their age, they would be trying a mix of recipes.
My face carries all my memories. Why would I erase them? —Diane Von Furstenberg
Dear Lovely Ladies!
You've got all the rights to discover your beauty. But should that be at the cost of your personality or the glory of aging??? You're free to make your choice!
Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give to yourself. —Bell Hooks
Escaping the tunnel vision of dysmorphic concerns and accepting the cultural myth that youth is beauty, women spend their money, time, and energy fighting the visible signs of aging with skincare, makeup, and cosmetic surgery. This way we're also telling our young girls that age is something to hide and fear. Isn't it true???
Love yourself — and your selfies — without filters or fillers because the true radiant beauty is beyond appearance where your power and confidence reside!
The more focused you're on your purpose, the less likely you get consumed with worry over your physical appearance or age. Similarly, surrounding yourself with people that are neither judgmental nor interested in appearance-related comparisons makes you feel better and less preoccupied with your flaws.
If you want to help another woman trapped in this situation or even if that woman is you, the best thing you can do is to love and encourage her not to believe the lie that embracing your age devalues you.
As women, we must work to create a world in which self-worth is based on the quality of a woman's character, the depth of her beliefs, the influence of her accomplishments, and the strength of her voice rather than by her selfie-perfect face or the size of her jeans.
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