Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Beauty and Aging
I have come to the conclusion that external beauty really does fade with age. Most of us do not age gracefully, and those of us that do, probably have work done to assist in that process (this is not based on any research, however).
I am not aging gracefully. Granted, I am only 30 years old, but there are some who are at their beauty peak in their thirties and often their forties and fifties now. I am not. I believe that my outward beauty peaked at about 25 and has gone downhill since then. I am getting gradually uglier. Unless I have plastic surgery to change completely certain features of my face, this process will continue until I am a very ugly old woman.
But true beauty doesn't fade--that is the beauty that is within us all. If you were to take a group of pictures of octogenarians and look at them only for external beauty, you probably wouldn't find it based on today's standards of beauty. They have lines, wrinkles, saggy skin, spotty skin sometimes, and gray or white hair (or no hair!). The women tend to wear very little, if any, makeup, and if they do, it is often overpowering. If you judged their beauty based solely on outward appearance, you would probably conclude that they were not beautiful.
As we age, though, we gain wisdom and experience. These experiences shape lives, for better or worse (we hope better), and help us develop characteristics such as grace, compassion, love, charity, selflessness, and understanding, to name a few. These characteristics are what enhance our beauty. And so, you take someone who is in their 80s or 90s and throw in these inward expressions of beauty and come to find some of the most beautiful people.
It's too bad that the world places so much emphasis on outward beauty. Outward beauty will never be retained infinitely in our physical lifetime. That is because the body ages, and there is little we can do to stop this process. We can slow it and extend it, and change certain aspects of it to reflect younger days, but in the end, we will all age.
But the soul is ageless. It lives forever and continues to grow and gain wisdom and experience, which enhance our internal beauty.
When I look in a mirror, all I can say is, thank goodness for that!