Our culture values youth and perfect faces/bodies more than anything. We worry and obsess when the first signs of aging appears—the first little wrinkles or grey hair. And no wonder—society vilifies older women, whether they let aging show or evade the visible signs. Like recently when supermodel Paulina Porizkova, age 57, posted a photo of her wearing a bikini on her IG. She looked fantastic, but trolls attacked her both for looking younger and older than her age. Can’t win, can we?
I think aging is a privilege and a beautiful thing. But I’ll be frank, I also struggle when I discover new crow’s feet around my eyes where my skin used to be smooth and even. I almost fainted when I noticed a grey hair in my eyebrows the other day. And there are days when I can’t stand those “angry elevens” deepening between my eyebrows. There are some weird thoughts as well crossing my mind in these moments. Am I not attractive anymore? Will people think I’m always mad because of the lines on my forehead?
But there’s another, more loving voice in my head that stops these negative thoughts. This voice reminds me of the extraordinary life I lead. It reminds me how I’ve got the wrinkles around my mouth from laughing so hard so many times, my “angry elevens” because I had to figure out solutions when life was tough. My skin is less silky since I work outdoors but I wouldn’t trade the experience. All of these little lines remind me of the things I experienced and learned throughout my life. And it’s not over yet: in fact, I feel like I just began to really live in my 30s.
I read an interview where a Hollywood celebrity said that she had done Botox before. She noticed that it made her face wrinkle-free, but it also made it emotionless because she wasn’t able to move the muscles in her face. It didn’t only make her face emotionless, but her whole self. While not being able to fully express with her face, she also wasn’t able to truly feel them. It made her emotionally stuck and unable to process her life.
That is so beautiful, isn’t it? That our whole life is written on our faces. Not just our good or bad memories but also how we relate to ourselves. How you feel shows on your face, and actually in your whole being. For me it became very important to have a good relationship with my self and think of me with love and compassion. I’ve spent too much of my life with self-hatred already, and life is too short. Aging is a natural and desirable part of life. Aging gracefully and well is what I think most of us want.
There’s a beautiful and simple practice I adopted from my grandmother, when I told her about my mixed feelings of being grateful for my age and my body and at the same time panicking about the exact same thing—the lines on my face, grey hairs and what not.
I realized that how my face looks as I age has more to do with my self-acceptance and self-esteem issues than anything else. Of course, I want to look good, it’s just that beauty is no longer tied up with self-worth.
Here’s the simple practice I inherited from my granny. I hope it will help you to cultivate more self-love and compassion for yourself, to build confidence and radiance from within as it helped me to do the same.
Self-love practice to embrace aging with grace
- Take time out of your day, when you can be unbothered somewhere you feel comfortable.
- Take a mirror and look at yourself in it. Rather than focusing on details and your looks, relax your eyes and soften your focus.
- Smile at yourself genuinely, with love. Like how you’d smile at someone you really like.
- Take a few deep breaths and focus on the area around your heart. Feel a warm energy building up here.
- Imagine a green light and this warmth that you started to feel before, radiating out from your heart center, and travel up to your face.
- Take a few deep breaths again and concentrate your mind on the warmth and love traveling from your heart to your face.
- Now start to take a look at every little segment of your face and imagine this light and love filling up every area one by one.
- It can take time, depending how many things you notice about your face. I love to start with the wrinkles around the corner of my mouth, then travel up to the nasolabial folds, under my eyes and around their corners, between my eyebrows and on my forehead.
- The more you practice this, the easier it will get to imagine and fill every little part of your face with loving energy.
I also love when I notice little details on my face that remind me of my ancestors that I love. My great-grandma’s nose, my eyes resembling my mom’s, my eyebrows like my father’s…. You may find you experience deep gratitude for your face. For your life that created it for what it is now. For all the life experiences and adventures that you’ve been lucky to have.
You may find that you are, in fact, uniquely beautiful.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Paulina Porizkova via Instagram; Alexandra Tran via Unsplash