“Defy your age — get your body back.”
“Take the 10-year social media photo challenge.”
“fifty is the new 30.”
What do all these messages tell us about aging in today’s body-centric culture?
When I turned 50, I’ll be honest: I’d been thinking about aging a lot leading up to that birthday. There’s no doubt that my body was visibly aging. Yet I knew I wanted to share a healthy body image message about growing older and how we can radically accept our bodies despite living in today’s anti-aging culture.
How can you choose to see your aging body differently?
- by detaching your self-worth from our appearance
- practicing gratitude for your present body
- honoring aging as a privilege (no matter what your age!)
- seeing your body’s true purpose
I’ve learned to accept that my outside appearance is going to change no matter how many creams, potions or procedures I try.
One of the greatest gifts 🎁 of aging is that it can encourage us to look deeper than the outward appearance, beyond the reflection in a mirror. That type of introspection helped me separate my identity from my appearance.
One of my favorite authors, 67-year-old Anne Lamott, said it best:
“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life — it gave me.”
Separate your self-worth from your appearance
Reflect and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are you? What makes you uniquely you?
- What feeds your spirit?
- What brings you joy and happiness?
- What are your special gifts that you are contributing to the world?
Cultivate your inner beauty and focus on feeling good from the inside out instead of trying to change the outside to feel good on the inside.
Aging is a privilege, a miracle
While navigating life and feeling good in our skin as we age isn’t easy, when we practice gratitude and self-compassion and ditch self-criticism and comparison, we can acknowledge aging as a gift. Or, as poet Rupi Kaur said, a miracle.
The anti-aging industry keeps us invested in trying to stay young by creating contests, like the Instagram 10-year challenge, which asks users to post a photo from today and one from 10 years ago. The underlying message: Show how little you’ve aged. But our bodies are meant to change as we live.
The new challenge that I propose to you is to shift from seeing aging as something to defy and see your body with gratitude in the present. The signs of aging — our wrinkles and lines — tell our story. They make us real. They speak our truth.
View your body with an attitude of gratitude
“As a society, we don’t talk about aging as a celebration of a life well-lived,” Mary Robinson said in a blog post titled “Coming to Peace With Aging.” “We scrutinize and shame it if we are talking about it all.”
Have you ever looked back at a photo of your younger self and thought, “I wish I had that body now?” Yes? Take a pause and remember back then. More often than not you’ll find you were critical of yourself then, too. We’re often stuck in such a pattern, never happy with the present self.
But your body is miraculous at all ages. And it’s truly a privilege to get to see it change through the years.
Be more than your body
Our culture and our egos have convinced us our body is who we are. But when we change the way we see our bodies, how we feel about them also changes. What you focus on expands.
What’s your body’s purpose? Choose to view your body not as an ornament but as a vessel for living your best life.
Turning 50 was a gift that allowed me to see aging from a body-positive perspective.
I don’t need my younger body back. I don’t need to feel or look like I’m 30.
Aging has allowed me to see my identity as separate from my appearance. It taught me to have gratitude for my body today and see aging as a privilege. It taught me to see my body as a vessel to give my unique gifts, as a messenger for helping others make peace with their bodies — not as an ornament.
Love yourself now, no matter your age. Be a rebel.
If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies how different out ideals of beauty would be. – Lauren Jauregui
P.S. Interested in more body image articles? 👇