A couple of weeks ago, a friend that I last saw when I was 21 contacted me through social media. Now I don’t tweet much at all, if you know me you’ll understand why 142 characters is just NOT going to cut it. So she and I are catching up on marriage, kids, work etc on social media is fun but the back and forth can be time consuming and it would have been easier to go to face-time except I don’t really know how that works and I had to go anyways but then for a little bit as well this thought crossed my mind – when we were 21, we were all young and beautiful. Now I’m 37, I’m not turning any webcam on… And as soon as I thought that, I thought WHAAAAATTTT????? It can NOT be ME talking here. This goes completely against everything I truly believe, deep down at the core. If I heard any other woman speak like that of herself, we’d have a BIG conversation and I wouldn’t let her go until she came to her senses. But for that one second, society’s perception that a 21 year old version of me surely is better than a 37 year old of me seemingly took over.
So I thought, ok, let’s analyse this a bit. Yes aging, having children, years change your body, your face. But I always thought that so many people actually look better to me once some maturity kicks in. I love crow feet lines by the eyes of a woman because that is a good sign that she has had her share of laughter and happiness. I love greying hair in dark haired men in a way I can’t explain. I prefer French actress Catherine Deneuve around 40 than at 20 (and certainly before she hit that path of extreme cosmetic surgery) and I think most people agree that Sean Connery aged for many years decades for the better… I am at the moment considering whether I should start coloring my own hair though so I’m not sure if that makes me an impartial referee to the questions of looks and age so I’ll let you know when I’m out on that one (the colour part that is).
And here I’m only talking superficial ridiculous things like looks. But let’s think for a second about the differences between you now and you at 21 (and if you’re 21, sorry! Maybe send this article to your mom:)). I actually personally have always rather enjoyed aging – maybe it’s because when I was growing up, in school, I was 2 years younger than most the kids in my class so I wanted to catch up and be bigger too… Seriously though, when I think of my 21 year old self, I smile at her with kindness but I’m quite glad I’m not her anymore as well. For instance, the 21 year old me was doing her best to be perfect. The 37 year old me just wants to be herself cause let’s face it, that’s hard enough as it is. I do think I’m smarter, wiser, more confident, funnier, less inhibited and less insecure, less judgemental, and less bothered about what other people think than she was and if I thought more about it I’m sure I’d find many more adjectives. I also hope that when I’m 57 I look back on me now and think the same! That I’d rather be 57 than 37… Because that will have meant growth.
Anyways the next day I was having a work lunch with a few girlfriends (it’s work when it’s your favorite wedding second shooter’s birthday, yes it is!) and I asked them the same question, would you like to be your 21 year old self right now, and watched their reactions – I didn’t specify looks or personality. Actually I talked about this with almost every friend I met in the few days that followed, it was like a scientific experiment. I wanted to know whether women loved themselves better as they grow older. Though I don’t have what would make this a valid statistical control group, we’ll pretend that it was as those women were all between 30 and 65, some married, some divorced, some singles, some had children, some had none, some were dating their age group/younger/older than their age, some worked full time, some part time, some had the hardest job in the world (that’s being a mom, but you already knew that) etc. The result of the poll? ALL OF THEM loved themselves much better now than at 21. ALL OF THEM! And not just by a little, BY FAR. Like me they thought that, in an imaginary “competition”, they would totally outshine the 21 year old version of themselves by wit, smarts, confidence – everything. Everything! And then I asked, also looks?
There are plenty of very “aesthetically pleasing” people around that you probably feel aren’t beautiful because something lacks in their eyes or something, right? Throw in cliche’s such as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” to complicate the mix. Yet we all know real beauty is what shines through from the inside to the outside. So WHY WHY WHY do we as a society think that Younger means more Beautiful? Why do we think that some lines on our faces and bodies ACTUALLY MATTER?
All the women photographed in this post are above 30 and have told me when I photographed them over the years a story or another about their lives back when they were 20-something that makes me think when I look at the person they are now, wow, they have grown, they are happier and stronger today than at 21. Some of them have gone through hardship that would sink your heart. And they are amazing. And they are truly Beautiful – I can’t see anyone arguing about that.
So next time that someone asks you to turn on a webcam or go to a high school reunion or put a swimsuit on or to actually be in the photograph with your children (and not delete it afterwards)- don’t hesitate!!! Cause you really do “kick ^$%” compared to your 21 year old self!!
(and that was a first ever for the blog, I used a bad word! sorry… I promise it’s the last time)
It seems we now have a “Leave a Reply” box below this, yay!!! If you want to leave a note, I’d love to hear your take on this!