We Don't Just Need a Body Image Revolution, We Need an "Aging Image" One!

As I recovered from binge eating disorder and body obsession, fat days have gotten fewer and farther between. But guess what’s been popping up in their place? Wrinkle days! (This was me the other morning while brushing my teeth: “Mm, this new Aquafresh tastes niACK another crow’s footWHERE’SMYMOISTURIZER?!!!!”) I may have gotten a lot saner about my weight and food obsessions, but now, apparently I’m dealing with this. And, I don’t know about you, but I could use a healthy-aging body-image heroine. In this era of Botox, fillers, cheek implants and completely surgically made-over faces, how are we supposed to know what’s normal? The extreme implants and facial surgeries sought out by aging women have become the West’s version of genital mutilation—only it’s voluntary.

I am hereby declaring our society’s fight against aging complete and total insanity.

Does a naturally aging 49-year-old look like THIS?

Is THIS what 64 really looks like?

Is THIS what women look like when they're 77?

I think we don’t just need a Body Image Revolution, we need a Natural Aging Revolution! I nominate the talented, brilliant Meredith Vieira, 57, and Goldie Hawn, 65, to be the posterladies.

Who’s your body/aging image hero? And (for those of you over 25 :) ) how do you feel about getting older?

xo…Sunny

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90 Responses to We Don't Just Need a Body Image Revolution, We Need an "Aging Image" One!

  1. Tabby says:

    I support this. There are so few women celebrities, or public figures who are aging naturally. I don’t have an issue with wanting to look good, youthful or healthy. My issue is with people who don’t even look natural anymore. There is a huge fear of getting older. Rather than fear it, I want to embrace it. Now that does not mean I won’t wear make up or dye my hair and hide the grays lol. I’m 42. I am starting to see some wrinkles here and there. My face is changing a little. Sometimes it’s hard to accept these changes, and other times I just talk to myself and tell myself…. this is the process of life. It happens to everyone. I know of women who did not get this far in their lives and passed too soon. I feel so lucky to be in my 40’s right now and to experience this life and my wrinkles are what I have to show for. My years here, my experiences….
    My mom is 61 and looks no where near as young as Suzanne Somers. But she is so beautiful to me. I grew up watching mom take good care of herself and her skin, and she’s aged beautifully. We need to stop fearing the process I think. The triple Goddess has 3 representation of the life cycle. Maiden, Mother, and Crone. To see an example of a healthy youthful older women, check out Susun Weed !

  2. Tabby says:

    I also want to say that people will remember us more for our spirit, than our aging. They will remember the compassion, the love, or the smile that we wear. Audrey Hepburn was a shining example of that too, and Maya Angelou. I really look up to these women. The media has taught women that you cannot get old. We are literally brainwashed with it in this culture. I’m from the upstart of the 80’s MTV generation. Imagery was so heavy then, and it has only increased over the past 2 decades. My daughter is 16 and the pressure is even worse for her now, than it was for me.

    I honestly like being in my 40’s. I enjoyed my 30’s too. I think my best advice to offer is, enjoy your older years. The day I turned 40, my mother told me…’You’re life is just getting started!’ and it’s true! :)

    • Nice attitude, Tabby. I, too, am in my 40s (upper, not lower), and I find many benefits in being comfortable with who and what I am.

      Years ago, Jamie Lee Curtis was photographed for some magazine, and she refused to have the art directors air brush the photo. “This is what 40-something looks like,” she said, and received a lot of flak for that statement.

      In the same way our daughters must find and accept themselves outside of Hollywood’s perception of anorexia divine, we older women must be who we are without holding up the Botox babes as our standard.

      Most definitely, our spirit within defines us. Have you ever met someone and been just drawn to the compassion and thoughtfulness in their very demeanor? You find that you want to be with them and around them, and the longer that you know them, the more beautiful you find them. That’s the kind of person I want to be.

  3. Jenelle says:

    It’s so disheartening to me to see how society encourages us to constantly be at battle with our own bodies even through the natural, unavoidable process of aging. These botoxed women don’t have smiles or expressions that tell us where they’ve been throughout life. Faces like this make me sad because they are devoid of character. I’m 24 now, but I’d like to hope I can stay sane about my body as it ages. I look at my mother (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dothezonk/4576402363/), who is 52 and hope to someday be like her. She wears very little makeup to hide her smile lines or crow’s feet. They are a part of her story and her story is a big part of what makes her so beautiful.

  4. Linnie says:

    Jamie Lee Curtis.
    She reminds us to “age wisely and well.”

  5. Pretty good post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  6. melanirae says:

    I do agree with you to an extent. But Goldie Hawn? She has had some weird shit dome to her face.
    People want to look how they feel inside. We live longer than we ever have, but we still age the same. It’s patriarchy’s little trick, but it’s a hard thing to deny.

  7. Carol Bass says:

    I nominate Jamie Lee Curtis and Susan Sarandon! Please….I wish Hollywood would start turning their backs on women (and men) who are so altered looking. Look at Nicole Kidman and even my beloved Meg Ryan. You know both of them would still look gorgeous if they had stayed natural.

  8. decidida74 says:

    I think Joan Rivers is beautiful. I do hope that I age naturally, I can see where you are going with people keeping themselves young to the point of looking like their grandchildren.

  9. Charlynn says:

    The media does indeed drive women to deny the aging process. I am a Wellness and Fitness coach, and my coaching practice supports, encourages, and celebrates women as they age. I want to spread the word that women do not have to buy into the stereotypes: We do not have to get fat, we do not have to become inactive, and we are, indeed beautiful!!

    Thank you for these postings; I’m gratified to know that there are women who love themselves as they are and appreciate the stages of life as natural progressions to be embraced rather than denied. Bravo!

  10. bmj2k says:

    Joan Rivers is not just a bad example of what a 77 year old looks like. She has had so much work that her face looks odd and distorted. I’m not sure she is a good example of what a human looks like anymore. Even her daughter has the same problem. Melissa can’t even move her forhead.

  11. I have to agree with Tabby about Audrey Hepburn and her statement “that people will remember us for our spirit.” That is why I also nominate Sandra Bullock. She has risen from turmoil because of her love for her adopted son. Her actions indicate to me that she thinks motherhood is what is important, not the Hollywood hoopla, and so, because of this, I think she is aging gracefully.

  12. Jennie says:

    i am 25+, trying everything and doing everything i could to slow the aging, it’s funny how everyone cuts the line at 25, why 25?

  13. Lila McGrew says:

    I’m with Linnie and Carol – Jamie Lee Curtis for sure. Susan Sarandon is a good pick, too.
    I would add Annette Bening to the list as well.

  14. Goodie Girl says:

    I agree sort of. I think you have to do whatever makes YOU feel happy. As long as you are doing it for you and no one else, there is nothing wrong with your decisions. Who doesn’t want to feel beautiful and sexy still at an older age? Although I do not part take in the botox/chemical area of staying young looking…there are alternatives. There are amazing skin care products from Switzerland that are completely vegan and amazing on your skin/aging, eating healthy (which I consider 60% of your diet should be from greens), and exercising WILL in fact keep you fit and young. I think our perception of what “getting old” really means is actually is up for discussion. If you look at your average woman in America, most don’t work out 5 days a week as they should, most eat fast food and unhealthy choices due to our ever changing economy and time allowances, and most don’t have the time to take care of their bodies…so are THEY what we should be looking at as the right decision of age? Hmmm….thoughts…. I am 30 and still get carded as I am 18. I do not drink, I have NEVER smoked a day in my life, I exercise, eat a lot of vegetables, and I maintain a stressfree life as much as possible…and no I do not have more time than anyone else. I wake up at 4:30am every morning to send my fiance off to work with coffee, a green shake, and a homemade salad for lunch, I then go to my 9-5 job, and in my spare time throughout the day I manage a band, process loans, AND somehow still bake from scratch and cook dinner every night…not to mention taking care of my dogs, the house, and all our finances. So…where there is a will, there is a way! STAY YOUNG GIRLS!

    • Katie says:

      Reading Goodie Girl’s post makes me feel bad about myself.

      • Trish says:

        I agree, Katie…Goodie Girl, that’s awesome that you keep yourself up that way, but this is a website for girls that struggle with binge eating and other eating disorders. Perhaps you misunderstood the purpose of this site. What we discuss here are ways to overcome our issues with food, and while it is fantastic that you have a great relationship with food and your body, not everyone here does, so please don’t make it sound like it’s as easy as saying your ABCs.

      • Leslie says:

        Bless her heart. I remember at 30 I, too, thought I had it all figured out what everyone else should be doing. If only we could all spend endless hours in the gym, drink cute little green shakes and kiss our boyfriends sweetly in the morning as they dash off to their happy, stress-free lives just like Goodie Girl. Then we who are getting to know life without estrogen, taking care of aging parents, struggling to make enough money to meet our adult children’s financial needs (you know, the unemployed ones who still need their gym memberships paid for), organizing volunteers to address our community’s problems, etc., THEN would see that being thin, beautiful and wrinkle free is just a matter of focus. We’re just not focused ladies. That’s the problem.

        Oh, I know that’s pretty snarky. But you get my point.

    • curious says:

      Enjoy yourself huni. 30 is not a changing point for your skin and body…but 35 IS. I’ve seen it happen to people before my eyes and a couple months after I hit the big 35, I saw it happen to my own face. My body is okay because I’m naturally muscular and am not into junk food or eating out but your skin WILL change.

    • Dana says:

      “Who doesn’t want to feel beautiful and sexy still at an older age?”

      Thank you for underlining Healthy Girl’s point. What you are saying is that someone who ages naturally CANNOT be beautiful and CANNOT be sexy. That is not an absolute. It is a standard the media has set, and an unrealistic one to boot.

      I do get what you’re saying–they’re our bodies and we can do what we want to them. Personally I wouldn’t outlaw cosmetic surgery, although I’d regulate the hell out of it. But the point is that the idea that wrinkles and sags are “ugly” or “unsexy” is an ARTIFICIAL one. People CHOOSE to think that way. There is no Almighty God on high thundering at us, “THOU SHALT NOT COVET THE WRINKLED OLD CRONE NEXT DOOR.”

      Besides… do you like being ripped off? Do you like the idea of thousands of YOUR dollars going toward the postponement of something that’s going to happen anyway? Do you like the idea of putting yourself at greater risk of premature death just so the twentysomething guy next door will think you’re hot? I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter whether Mister Dude thinks you’re hot. That is zero indicator of whether he will stick around for the long run–and if he doesn’t, he’s just wasted X number of days, weeks, months, or years of your life that would have been better spent at more productive pursuits. You want to spend thousands of dollars on that? Be my guest. Don’t be surprised if I pity you, though.

    • Dana says:

      Or–Put another way–No wonder elderly women are more likely to be poor than elderly men. And I bet it will just get worse, the more and more we are encouraged in this sort of foolishness. While we’re chopping ourselves up to stay hot just a little bit longer, the dudes are laughing all the way to the bank, investing in their 401(k)s and what-not and so forth.

      It’s the same with the latest fashions and with makeup and hair products. Waste of money. Not like you can’t look pretty without them.

      I’m not saying never use any of that stuff. I’m not even saying never get surgery. I will possibly be facing circumstances that will leave *me* wanting a little tuck here or there. But it’s going to be for personal comfort far more than appearance. And I’ve worn makeup before. But see, I don’t obsess about the stuff, and I don’t even wear it now. Big deal. Somehow, I still have a life.

      So you want to think about which way your life is headed and what your values truly are. And whether some guy you like would cut HIMself up to keep you around, to the same degree you would for him. If the answer is “no”… maybe you should think about it some more.

    • 2 Gabby Gals says:

      I agree with Goodie Girl. This is the way life is. It’s not fair, but our society does not embrace aging. I am too old and wise enough to know that you cannnot change a prevalent thought like that. I am 35 years old and I fear getting old, but feel better knowing there are options out there when I am ready to partake.

    • I second Katie’s post. Goodie Girl, what you seem to forget is that while that kind of life is not stressful for you, for someone else that would be extremely stressful. I could never and will never be able to get up at 4:30 in the morning. If all those things you do don’t stress you out, more power to you, but maybe you could take a second and realize that for some of us, doing what we love means inviting stress into our lives. I am a teacher and I have yet to meet a teacher who lives a “stress free” life. Could we live stress free in a different career? Maybe, but other careers aren’t what make us happy. I find your post to be very judgmental and it seems you have quite a superiority complex about yourself. Your way is not the only way and it seems you would do well to remember that.

  15. “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty” Coco Chanel.

    I would like to believe that we humans (not just women) earn our wrinkles. They’re lines of experience, telling the world that you have lived a full life! Yes, it would be nice to look young and smooth all over~ but why are you trying to erase the life you had? Wrinkles can represent a lot of things: grandchildren, travelling, all the toils of your life that you’ve survived.

    When I see plastic surgery, I feel sad. I feel as if these people are lying to themselves, lying to the world, afraid to show their face but even more, afraid to show their age. Is there going to become a point where all the grandmothers, mothers, and daugthers on the screen look alike in age? How creepy and unrepresentative would that be to viewers! Even worse, what if the younger, more vulnerable generation starts suspecting that it is normal to have a grandmother that looks like your mom and a mom that looks like your sister? What kind of expectation would that set for the children of the future?

    I do understand that celebrities have images they have to keep up. Some for their career, some because their self-esteem was built on the fact that while developing their bodies and careers, the public loved them then and they’re trying to keep that love. But alas, life goes on. This, too, shall pass.

  16. I think Raquel Welch (age 69) and Meryl Streep (age 59) still look great.

  17. Karin says:

    My body image hero would have to be Faith Hill. I’m 30 and struggle everyday with the aging thing, and I too thought with age I would become wiser and more confident, this, as I’m discovering is less true. It’s hard to compete in a world of plastic people!!! :(

  18. Recently, I looked at a picture taken of myself at a party and shuttered. I deleted the picture. Instead of a beautiful smile, embracing my best friend, I saw wrinkles around my eyes. I am 27. Lat night, I decided to add one more kind of lotion and potion to my already vast collection- anti-wrinkle cream. I enjoy my beauty regime, but I am hesitant to add yet another ritual to the process. Having lived in LA, I can understand the pressure of “upkeep” with Botox and collagen-boosters, but I never thought I’d be one to indulge in such a process. However, I might consider it in 8 years, if things get really bad and I am truly unhappy with myself. Yes, I agree, society puts too much pressure on us to be skinny (not healthy) and wrinkle-free. My mom, who grew up without make-up, creams, facials, and injections, is so beautiful and laughs at procedures such as face-lifts and Botox. However, my mentality has evolved with time. In my early teens, I thought it was ridiculous and horrible that woman (and men) go through such artificial means to look beautiful. After living in LA for 5 years, my Botox and collagen boosters became okay in book. Why should I judge? Now, married and in San Francisco, it does bother me to what lengths women go to be beautiful. But at the same time, the wrinkles around my eyes bother me also.

  19. I’ll second the Meryl Streep. Still I wonder if any celebrity is totally natural these days. The pressures to look good in HD must be unnerving. I’m over 40 and the best mind-trick I play when I’m feeling old is to say “10 years from now you’ll wish you had this face and this body.” It helps me to be grateful for what I have right now. And then when I’m 50, I’ll do the same thing.

    thanks for the thoughtful post!

  20. Elise says:

    It hurt me in ways I cannot explain when Carol Burnett had her work done. Noooo – not Carol too!!!

    I also long to embrace the aging process and wonder where the line between wrinkle cream and plastic surgery really is.

    I’m 35, but am working with the idea of earning each and every new wrinkle on my face. Really I think it all boils down to how we look at it. Here’s to showing our life’s wisdom with every new wrinkle!

    • BothEyesShut says:

      Dear Elise,

      Poisonally, I completely agree. There was an old man whom attended my family church when I was very young, and the kids liked to laugh at him, because he had such smile lines around his mouth and eyes that he resembled Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Perfect sidelong Vs pointed toward his ears across his cheeks, and I can’t say they were attractive . . .

      — But it’s impossible to not attract people with a face that has smiled so much that humor has sculpted itself there.

      I noticed once that an expression that I used to make purposefully in order to seem debonair has long become my actual expression, and now I have lines of permanence from that once-feigned, still-pretentious face on my forehead. So I suppose that if one can’t help but become what one pretends to be, one would do well to act like a nice, good-humored person.

      Ha ha, this is a funny topic of conversation!

      Yours Truly,

      -Both

      • Incredibly astute observation, BothEyesShut! I have a deeply embedded line running about an inch straight up from the inside corner of my right eyebrow. Don’t ask me why it’s on one side and not the other. But every time I notice it, I’m reminded of how much I used to worry about stuff, and I think to myself, “Oh, lighten up!” Of course, if you’re still worrying at the age of 60, you’re gonna get old fast!

  21. BothEyesShut says:

    Dear Ms. Sunny,

    Nice place you’ve got here; it’s my first visit.

    You know, I’m not interested in how people ought to look, but I am disgusted with most cosmetic surgeries, and their outcomes generally revolt me. Breast implants, for example — I can’t help but imagine the actual process of inserting the implants through bloody incisions whenever I see them. Facelifts, too, seem to me precisely what they sound like: like the pulling of a rubber mask until it lies taut against the skull. Absolutely disgusting.

    As for myself, I’m only X years old, but my hair (oh, my vanity!) is slowly thinning, and though I have no problem shaving my head if it comes to that, I do miss the ability to do teenwise things with it, such as spiked hairstyles or coloring it blue, neither of which look passable when glimpses of the scalp show on top.

    I often consider, is it simply vanity that causes me angst about my stupid hair, or am I prematurely beginning to fear death?

    Then I laugh and think about shaving my head for a moment before slicking it back the way my girl likes it, and wonder whether I’ll look good with crow’s feet or not.

    Thanks for writing on such an important topic, Miss. Some sanity is needed in the area of this theme and discussions like it.

    Yours Truly,

    -BothEyes

  22. I have grown to appreciate Emmy Lou Harris who keeps her grey hair very vibrant and out there. She is completely grey and looks fabulous. I cannot guarantee she has had no face work because things look a little too taut. Her voice remains as great as ever.

    • Heather says:

      Emmy Lou is BEAUTIFUL!!! My ex husband once told me that he hoped that I would age as she did…embracing the lines, and the grey!

  23. I need to add that I won the gene pool and look younger than my 40+ years. Even if I had the money, I am not planning to do anything ever beyond moisturizer.

  24. Hannah Kozak says:

    Good blog. We know it’s beyond the point of insanity when someone will have a lethal naturally occuring substance to temporarily paralyze facial muscles. Botulinum toxin bacterium often caused poisoning by growing in improperly handled or prepared meat products.
    Oh yes, give me some of that! :)
    My aging heros are Katherine Hepburn and Sophia Loren.

  25. I am a Hollywood survivor, having left Los Angeles two years ago, as ageism was now creeping into the “behind the scenes” group. I was an assistant film, music, and sound editor, and I always swore that I would quit when the editors were younger than I was.

    However, I did not get to enjoy that particular luxury, as the day I turned thirty-eight, I found that, despite a rather stellar resume (eight years working with Steven Spielberg and John Williams), I could not get a job. Directors I had worked with, men and women, once they hit fifty, were not getting hired.

    Assistant editing was tired of me, and consequently, I was over it. Oddly enough, I had found the pressure to look young seeping into my psyche, and when I was thirty I had two tiny procedures to my face – an acid peel, and small pieces of gore-tex inserted into my face to combat the lines around my mouth. At thirty!

    I chose a new career path, and two years ago moved to Pittsburgh, which has been chosen the number one city in the United States by Forbes Magazine.

    I love this city, because everyone looks unique, interesting, and different. People out here seem comfortable in the skin they were born in, and, at forty-seven years old I feel comfortable walking among them. Despite my early dabbling in “youth procedure”, I look forty-seven. A very happy, energetic,physical pressure free, loved, forty-seven year old.

    I nominate Elizabeth Mitchell (of “Lost” and “V”). A forty something actress who is not afraid to look forty something. And both my husband and I think she is absolutely gorgeous.

    There is a backlash with the botox group – Casting agents are having to throw out a very wide net these days to find an actress (and actors, too) who can move their faces and emote without speaking.

    What was that called? Oh yeah, acting.

    Women – celebrate your natural beauty, your unique beauty, and the great gifts that come with age.

    Wear your gifts proudly.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! It’s great to get a different perspective and you brought up very valid points. Living in LA, my psyche was also falling into the trap of needing to look beautiful always. No matter how. I frequented Sephora as much as the grocery store. Most San Franciscans don’t care about physical appearance to the degree LA does, and your psyche does depend on your surroundings. There is no real style in San Francisco, because everyone has their own. However, in the affluent circles, all of this is out the window.

      Here is something else to think about: In several Latin American countries, each individual is covered for one plastic surgery procedure each year.

  26. Charmain Lisenbee says:

    I hope I will not look like that I am 27 living in Miami and already looking way older

  27. Den says:

    I agree, we do need an aging image revolution. As for who my aging image hero would be, I have yet to meet one, but it most likely would not be a Hollywood celebrity. Who among them really hasn’t had anything done on their faces and/or bodies? If you strip them of their make-up & their clothes, do they really look their age or has there been some nip & tuck done somewhere that’s been covered up with those clothes & make-up?

    I will be 41 this year but am often mistaken for someone in her early to late twenties. It helps that I have never smoked, do not drink, never did drugs, hardly wear makeup, and try to deal with stress as best I can. I have been slim my entire life (was actually underweight till I was 30). I have two boys, one is 18 & the other is 6. I have never been afraid of growing old, do not hesitate to tell my age & would never, ever consider doing anything to my face or body. I like who I am, flaws & all.

    I think it all boils down to self-love & self-acceptance. Sadly, there are too many who either do not like or loathe themselves, & it shows up in things like lying or hiding our age, to the voluntary self-mutilation of facial surgeries, breast implants and other plastic surgeries.

  28. DKN says:

    I think the hardest thing for an aging woman has to be the feeling of invisibility, especially when it comes to sexuality. My mom has talked to me about that before. I think that’s why eternal youth craze has gotten out of hand.

    I live in NYC but I grew up in the Midwest around all sorts of women, and when I go back home I’m struck by how beautiful these women still are as they’ve gotten older. No botox, no face lifts, very little hair dying, etc. It looks better to me than the fake concoctions a lot of aging New York City women have become.

    So that is my preference for when I get older – all Natural.

    • curious says:

      Yea, the invisibility sucks. Especially bad, I think, if you are accustom to always just naturally just having the attention and having your pick of whoever is around. Is it just something that men subconciously pick up on? Less shiny hair, less glowing skin, a more worldly look in our eye? I started noticing that at 35. I’m 35 and a half.

  29. dpilet says:

    its all because of plastic surgery

  30. Barbra White says:

    Not many woman can age and then get cosmetic surgery and look the same. I’d make a sure bet that Susan Sarandon has had some fillers, etc, but very minimal. Just the amount not to make her look not look tired. Heather Locklear and Meg Ryan were simply overworked by the “ageless ” makers. Now they look bloated. Meg Ryan and Melanie Griffith never had full lips. Just look at their earlier work. This alone makes them look distorted. I remember having full lips as a child and trying to make them look smaller. How things change. If you look at many actresses that win Oscars, they tend to do less work. it ruins there ability to express if they do. Many members of my family look years younger than their age and some older. it just depends on the genes, lifestyle, sun etc. I think many women use too many products on their skin, making the skin break down. This ages them and they are paying a lot of money to look older when they think it will make them look younger. The best defense against aging is to use less and wear a hat!

  31. Mary says:

    Ms. Meryl Streep should be poster child for graceful aging.

    It isn’t fair to judge, everyone must be true to themselves, but I will say one thing…I think we all too often look at ourselves with self-loathing and the procedures we get done to ourselves is because we view ourselves as not good enough. It can be as addictive as any other substance like food, alcohol, cigarettes, pills…, all things to numb our sense of our authentic self. Be sure the inside is “Ever green” and your outside will reflect it.

  32. Beaulah says:

    Hello,
    This was an article for a website that I wrote that I thought would be very appropriate here. Hope you enjoy reading it. Thanks for letting me share it.
    Beaulah Hamilton

    “Natural beauty” has become almost extinct among older women that have the financial means to alter their outer appearance. I am referring to a great extent to the celebrity culture which tends to set the example, leading to changing norms among other non-celebrity cultures. It is unfortunate that our society simply has no tolerance for aging in women. It will not gain that tolerance until more women that are in the spotlight choose to grow older gracefully and allow nature to take its course. It is very sad to see women that don’t have money for plastic surgery doing without basic necessities, living deeply in debt, all for the sake of the outer shell.

    In my view a beautiful older outer shell can mean an empty one. I think that such strong focus and anxiety about our outer appearance with regard to the changes as we age interferes with the introspection that is necessary in people as they age to achieve a true understanding of oneself, inner peace and self actualization. I think often that the outer focus that remains among some hampers the emotional development of women, keeping them stuck. The life cycle was created the way it was for a reason.

    Plastic surgery has taken on such an informal and light meaning. It’s almost as though it is nothing more than a day at the spa. I don’t think women often realize the serious ramifications that go along with “going under the knife” and permanently altering their physical appearance.

    Is it not the responsibility of the older women in our society to pave the way for the younger women? Who else is going to do it? What kind of an example are the older women setting for young women as they mature? What a scary site it must be to watch their older counterparts desperately heading to the ” clinic ” for a ” day at the spa ” on a regular basis for a “little work” in attempts to compete with women half their age in physical appearance. Is it really possible to improve on nature in that kind of way with a knife, laser, chemical or whatever new fangled scientific advancement that has entered the market claiming to create miracles.

    Age is terrifying to many people, especially women. Many women feel that when they lose their looks they lose their value. Maybe that was true at one time, but that absolutely does not have to be true today. Women are the only ones that can change that fact. They first have to recognize their own power and worth that exists aside from their physical beauty. Women in the US society are becoming just as powerful as men. Women need to recognize the strength that comes from their inner resources and understand those resources will be received by others. We no longer need to be young and beautiful or go under the knife in attempts to remain that way to be seen and heard. . We need to understand that and live it

    Living it means not taking a knife to our face or any other part of our body to be more beautiful for the primary purpose of having value and self worth. It means that we rely and trust in our inner resources to be fulfilled human beings, first for ourselves and then for the ones we love. Once we do that and truly trust that that is enough things will change. Maybe the next generation can rest assured that they can grow old gracefully without needing to undergo unnecessary surgeries in order to have worth and value. How terrifying for young women to believe that this is a rite of passage.

    Please understand that I am not knocking plastic surgery all together. There is definitely a place for it. I have no problem with a person wanting to look their best. There is a difference between having a strong inner core and self acceptance prior to a surgical procedure vs. self acceptance through surgical procedure. It is always easier to reach for the “quick fix” rather than looking inward. When all is said and done, it all leads to the same place. A person can only “quick fix” for so long before one is forced to go inward and explore other means. It makes sense to do it up front and save the bucks!

  33. Pie says:

    I think Dame Helen Mirren is an excellent member of the naturally ageing beautiful women club.

  34. Ana says:

    What an excellent post! I completely agree with you.

  35. Carolyn says:

    Meryl Streep, all the way. I’m only 18, but I believe Meryl is absolutely gorgeous. She’s 60, and look at her! Always beautiful, always smiling. What young girl wouldn’t want to be Meryl Streep? She’s overlooked by my generation, and I can’t fathom why. She’s beautiful.

    Another option could be Julie Andrews. Need I say any more?

    • Heather says:

      I met Julie Andrews in an elevator in Manhattan once…her face looks like it would crack if you flicked it…like a china doll.

  36. K says:

    Emmylou Harris has always been my model of looking more beautiful as the days pass.

    I think Heather Locklear looks amazing, but not freakishly so, though I’ve only seen a few photos, and don’t understand what “work” people have done enough to recognize it.

    I’m just a year or so behind her. I think I do look in my 40s now, but until recently, people would think I was 28, maybe 34. They would be in disbelief that I was well into my 40s.

    I happily and proudly say my age (47), as I wouldn’t want to have grown up in any other time except the 60s. And having been teased for being tall, plump, developed young, glasses, gap-tooth, birthmarked, geeky…all of it…I’m damn happy that this is my moment to outshine even half of Hollywood. I see photos of those with and without major work…and think…damn, I look better.

    I attribute most of it to diet (and I don’t mean calorie counting…I mean eating lots of fruit and trying to eat more veggies and avoiding overly processed crap), not smoking, and lying mostly face-down in the sun. Plus Iwas big into 80s makeup, including on weekends, when friends would tease me, but I’m damn glad I plastered on that base and eye shadow. Now, I just use the simplest, low-key moisturizer I can find and try to use a light base or sunscreen when I leave the house…especially those times when you’re feeling most casual…it’s the sun at the flea market that gets you, not the M-F.

  37. neurotype says:

    Seriously, yes. If this keeps up then kids won’t make it to thirty-five without dumping all their money into cosmetic enhancement.

    Terrifyingly enough, my mother’s my model. She gets up at 4.30 every day to do yoga, though, so maybe it’s not that shocking.

  38. LovesCatsinCA says:

    I’m 45. I have graying hair and furrows between my brows that haven’t been botoxed. Sometimes people will place me in my late 30s which is nice but my days of being “carded” are long gone.

    I am on this blog and other eating/health blogs nowadays because aging HAS retriggered some ED thinking. I was bulimic from 17-24. I stopped purging but still used food emotionally. My weight crept up over the years past 35 and my blood sugar and blood pressure elevated so I started walking more, writing down what I ate–the usual healthy ways to shed weight.

    I slowly (two years) shed 25 pounds and kept it off is the good news. The bad news is that now that I’m older, I’m thinking more about food and weight and being dissatisfied with my body. I’m less happy with it now than I was when I was plump and “oh well, I’m a little older”. Why? Because when you’re fatter and older, you can’t tell that your body has changed that much–it’s just fatter. When you get thinner and older, you can tell that the number on the scale is what it was 20 years ago again, but the tendency toward being a pear has gone and there is a layer of fat on my ribs/midriff/tummy that wasn’t there before.

    It’s sad that it bothers me but it does. I’m 7 or 8 pounds heavier than my lowest adult non-bulimic weight, which is great for a 45 year old woman, and I think about the thicker waist.

    I nominate Jamie Lee Curtis, Valerie Bertinelli.

  39. Ruth says:

    When I look in the mirror, I see my grandmother’s face. She was not conventionally pretty, and certainly not “young looking” but she was beautiful to me. No way would I ever let a knife or needle touch that face.

    I’m 55, the gray is coming in a little late, but it is coming. Age shows. I have earned every honorable mark.

  40. Moreta57 says:

    Such a subject! I wish for all you beautiful women that you love yourself at every stage of your life and never feel the need to surgically/chemically alter the gorgeous and perfect way you are made. I have struggled with body image issues most of my life, thinking I was fat, comparing myself to others, etc. In the past 10 years, after a medication put 40 pounds on me and threw me into early menopause, I AM overweight and now my face is melting, despite 30 years of daily sunblock (after 30 unfortunately), moisturizer and eye cream of one sort or another. My always “thinnish” upper lip is disappearing completely and eye makeup is impossible since my eyelids don’t show anymore, and don’t even mention my neck. I decided in my twenties that I would not be a slave to makeup so have always forced myself to be okay without makeup. However, if I know pictures are going to be taken, I do make sure to wear makeup. I am 52 years old and received my bachelor’s degree last Saturday. I ran out of the house without my makeup bag. My daughter was prepared to run down to the floor with my bag so I could put some makeup on before I went up to receive my degree. Suddenly I decided I was okay with my face “as is”, sun damage, smile/sorrow lines, it is all good, it’s mine! The pictures are not as technically pretty but my ecstatic smile (minus the upper lip) and the smiles of all those who love me and were with me all the way could not be more beautiful. NO to injecting botulism into my face to freeze my muscles, NO to having perfectly round globes surgically stuck on my chest, NO to the surgeons knife, and NO to those hideous deforming lip jobs. Anyone who claims to be doing it for themselves is only partially correct. It is about how you appear to others, so in essence it is to meet the standards of beauty set by others. And if you are doing it for your self-esteem, that is sad. Why does how you look impact your self-esteem? Sorry, too wordy but I feel so strongly about this.

  41. Dana says:

    You want an example of healthy aging in a celebrity? She isn’t hugely famous, but she’s a singer: Zara Phillips. My name links to one of her videos. I don’t think she’s had a single thing done to her face, and yet she’s gorgeous.

  42. Inspired says:

    Thanks for this post. Couldn’t agree with you more!
    I wish you had put Goldie and Meredith’s picture up too as opposed to using links to them… You should be proud putting real aging women on your blog too!

  43. Kay says:

    I think it is insane to go out of your way to look like plastic.

    I love Michelle Pfeiffer. She looks amaaaazing and healthy at her age. She is truly beautiful. I don’t know what she has had done but I think that is the way plastic surgery and other procedures should be used, in moderation. They should do psychological evaluations before allowing these people turn themselves into manicans.

  44. Jan says:

    I’m going to be 59 in June, it took me my whole life to get this far.

    I don’t want to look like I’m stuck in my past and afraid of my future.

    My motto is “Been there. Done that. Next….”

  45. Gloriadelia says:

    I like your mirror chatter — “Mm, this new Aquafresh tastes niACK another crow’s footWHERE’SMYMOISTURIZER?!!!!”) 😀

    I agree with most of the comments above and wanted to add that “natural aging” doesn’t have to mean going to pot, as a lot of women my age are. (40’s) Just as sad, I think, as those pictures above.

    Common sense eating and exercise go a looong way toward both inner AND outer beauty.

    Off to explore your site. Thanks, Gloris

  46. theglosspost says:

    @jenelle … your mama looks awesome! What is her secret?

  47. bookjunkie says:

    Meryl Streep is one of my heros. I love your blog. It was an issue that was on my mind too.

  48. Helen Mirren is the one I can think of. But you’re right, we need to have less focus on staying young forever and just growing old gracefully – even my friends are paranoid about wrinkles and we’re under 25!

  49. Sinthea says:

    Probably 20 years ago GAP ran an advert I’ve never forgotten: on the right hand page of the magazine was a black and white photo of a woman with her back to the camera – tight jeans, t shirt, slender, great ass, firm biceps, and long fair hair down to her hip. Turn the page, same woman from the front, slender, firm, long beautiful hair – and a face that made clear she was probably near 70. My initial reaction was shock – almost of being cheated somehow, this first image created an expectation of some lithe blonde 20 year old, and here I was delivered a lithe white haired 70 year old. Then I choked on my own reaction – just a huge countersurge of anger at myself for that first response and thinking, damnit, what’s wrong with that? Good on ‘er for keeping it together and looking fabulous – she clearly dealt with what she could – the figure and fitness – and accepted what she couldn’t – the wrinkles and age in her face. So what? She had the most wonderful smile and mischievous twinkle in her eye. As I’ve gotten older myself, I’ve kept that image and that reaction/counter reaction in mind. I’m 50 now, and no regrets, in fact I feel deep gratitude for the age and experience – even the bad stuff – that have put me where I am now, because where I am now – both physically/logistically in my life and spiritually in accepting myself and the world and people around me – is so fabulous and making me so happy.

  50. I’m 51, and I’m thinking that the aging thing and the emphasis on appearance in our culture have the same root. I think that women see looks, beauty, appearance as their Power in our society. When women, especially beautiful women, who have known beauty as Power, age, it frightens them. If a woman has always been loved and valued for her looks, and her looks start to fade, she must fear that her value to others is fading as well. Maybe that image of herself has to die so that she can know her true value, find that it lies somewhere other than her appearance. To chase that image, that concept of power, as we grow older and older is just sad.

  51. There are many women that age gracefully, but they don’t get as much media-coverage as their operated sisters. Personally, I have no problem with it. People do what they want to do, but my inner me tells me that some people start to early and some people overdo it.

    I don’t know if Diana Ross have done anything, but she is a real beauty. It’s probably her good genes. Susan Sarandon looks marvelous. Kathrine Hepburn and Liz Taylor (although sadly Liz have been very sick)

    What makes people look young is when they don’t loose their inner child, apart from all their wrinkles, if you play more, you be more youthful. That’s my mamma’s advice :)

    Great post btw.

  52. Allie says:

    Amen! Was SO glad to click on Goldie Hawn….and see MY body! So, I am 63….I have earned the right to say : “I know a heck of a lot more than you do, Youngster, so Bite Me already!”…..then go swimming without some sort of improvised ‘wet suit’ to cover Everything! Thank you for a simply wonderful blog!

  53. http://www.theblacktortoise.com/The_Black_Tortoise/Its_On_My_Mind/Entries/2009/8/4_Playing_the_Odds_with_Life.html

    That’s my Mom, women tell me all the time, they hope they will be as beautiful as she is, if they make it that far; she’s 83. I think her sense of humor and her zest for life just make her glow. That is true beauty. Her mother had the same kind of beauty.

    There are many celebrities that are aging gracefully, with a minimum of surgical help. I can hardly blame them for their increased focus on appearance. I’m still coming to terms with my lines and wrinkles in the mirror, I can hardly imagine what it would be like to have my face on the big screen. Add to that the press glomming on to every mistake and misstep. I wouldn’t want to be in any of these ladies shoes.

    I didn’t see Diane Keaton in your comment list, so I’ll add her.

  54. pen2sword says:

    I cannot wait till I have white hair. I’m going to grow it out super long, and wear a long white braid and be very cool. As for wrinkles, well, as long as I have laugh lines instead of frown ones, right?

  55. Rachel says:

    Let’s not forget Diane Keaton, another truly aging beauty!
    I am not afraid of death. I do struggle, however, with my changes in my body from aging. I work rigorously to remember that my culture greatly impacts my idea of beauty and sexuality. I am happiest when I am lost in my thoughts & works, which I know will get me through life splendidly!

  56. Kaki says:

    Whew! Thank you girl for bringing this up! I have left a couple of comments that have mentioned my age, I am approaching 40, have been struggling with different eating disorders since 11 and like you, feel like I am getting to a better place (almost) but now am really dealing with aging issues. GRAY HAIR!!
    Alright though… there are some SERIOUS issues that need to be addressed about aging. The body changes and like it or not, it changes for a reason.A recent medical study I read stated that metabolism slows and we gain weight for a reason… that reason is to try and make more estrogen which as we age slows down greatly. Estrogen in turn is very important to many bodily functions aside from the usual ones we think (boobies and pregnancy). So here we are over 40 starving ourselves and we end up looking skeletor like because we are fighting our bodies natural survival mechanisms!
    Plastic surgery is a big can of worms. I’ve been watching my mom for the last 30 yrs getting all her fixes. Yesterday she told me she is getting her arms done next month. She feels she has flappy arms so she is getting the flaps cut off. I am very against it mainly for the safety issues(its pretty major of a surgery and she is 70 yrs old)I think she’s beautiful the way she is but she won’t hear of it. She justifies it by saying she’s decided no more facelifts (she’s had 3) and it’s just what she wants to do. She says I will feel different when I get older and I shouldn’t pass judgment. Maybe…..Now I see where I get my body issues….:)
    I am determined to grow old as gracefully as possible, without plastic surgery.
    Who do I think is beautiful? Many women, it is difficult to tell who’s had surgery and who has not.
    Sophia Lauren, Olympia Dukakis and the lady who played the Older Vivi in the Ya Ya sisterhood.
    Bobbi Brown is also a great inspiration to be the most beautiful YOU, she’s very inspiring and helpful.

  57. The problem is, that many women can’t accept the “aging” as a reality!
    We can’t buy immortality…
    There isn’t any recepise ’till now.
    You are old as you feel “inside your selfs”, isn’t it?
    All the best
    Claudine

  58. Word! We don’t just need a Fat Grrrl revolution, we need an Old Gurl riot!

  59. Oh, and my heroine, Joan Jett! She’s 51 and looks healthy, happy, and herself!

  60. justonemom says:

    I am 51 and I can honestly say most people think I look great “for my age”. I’m not overweight and I haven’t any gray hair…but I see every flaw and it does bother me especially when someone snaps a candid photo I might not find very attractive. It’s difficult to make the transition from young and beautiful to older and not so cute anymore. All that to say to younger ladies, try not to put as much emphasis on outward beauty, because beauty does fade and you need to be healthy, fit, and mentally strong.

  61. Thank you so much for this post. I think society has gotten WAY out of hand with the focus on appearance and superficial things. The fact that Heidi Pratt (perfect last name for her, btw, heehee) has had 12 major surgical procedures and is younger than me is disgusting and is proof enough of that. That being said and all well and good, I am not necessarily against plastic surgery. If it makes a girl feel better to have bigger breasts or a smaller nose, by all means. There are some beautiful examples of plastic surgery out there. If she’s doing it for someone else, then that’s a problem. That why I think the cosmetic surgery industry needs to work much more closely with therapists and psychologists. You should be required to get cleared by a psychologist before you have plastic surgery because these procedures are irreversible.

    It just makes me so sad that everyone is terrified of aging. My mother is turning 60 this year and she looks amazing. Yeah, she has some wrinkles and crows feet…so what? She looks better than me in a bikini and exercises more than I do. She is a beautiful woman and every time she says the words “face lift” I cringe. If she ultimately decides to do that, I’ll support her and love her all the same because she’s my mother, but it will make me sad at the same time.

    Personally, as a girl who is never going to be a size 2 (and had a booty even when I was in kickass shape), my body image heroes are Sara Ramirez and Queen Latifah (yes, she had a breast reduction, but she did it for health reasons). I remember a couple of awards seasons ago, Sara Ramirez and Eva Longoria wore the same dress (albeit at two different events) and I thought Sara Ramirez looked even better in hers! It just goes to show that you don’t have to be a size 0 like Eva to be beautiful. Queen Latifah also looked gorgeous at the Academy Awards this year. In terms of aging, I think Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Bette Midler and Helen Mirren are beautiful. I’m only 24 and I already have gray hair, thanks to a stressful job that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and after some momentary freak outs about it, I got over it and moved on. I have much better things to worry about. I will never inject botulism or anything else into my face. Period.

    Whenever I think about aging and the Hollywood mentality I always think of the character played by Goldie Hawn in The First Wives Club. Her plastic surgeon asks her doesn’t she want to be able to play parts her own age and her answer is, “There are only three ages for women in Hollywood; “Babe”, “District Attorney”, and “Driving Ms. Daisy.” ” This perfectly sums up the Hollywood mentality. I love the movie because by the end of the movie these three incredible women have realized that they’re wonderful the way they are and that they don’t need to be younger or “hotter” or anything else to be happy.

  62. planejaner says:

    Helen Mirren is my hero. I could look at her all day, and watch her in anything, anytime. She has beautiful laugh lines and you can tel she’s comfortable in her skin…
    I agree–we need to get past this image crap, and live life to the fullest!
    great post
    blessings
    jane

  63. Lash Royalty says:

    Amen to you! I’m so happy someone else is noticing all of this madness! It’s actually quite frightening seeing some of these women out in public. Their faces resemble a putty like substance, that has a waxy sheen to it. The obvious nose jobs, excessive tucks, collagen filled sausage lips, and eye lifts, actually makes them look more like a Mr. Potato Head toy.

    It’s sad that most people in the entertainment industry have to go through these extreme measures to secure work these days. =( The media focuses (and commends) people on looking youthful or dressing a certain way. I think it is definitely a terrible trend that will continue to trickle down to young adults, and even teenagers.

  64. I am in agreement that we should not judge if someone is being true to themselves. And a lot of cosmetic surgeries are not because of self loathing, they are just because! But the media does put the idea in people’s head in the first place. I also think that people will remember you for your spirit most of all but I also know that each person blogging has been part of a discussion about some loved one who is no longer with us that talked about how great her skin was or how healthy she was, etc. And we can remain positive and happy longer if we treat our bodies well, treat each other better, and stay active. In short, take care of your body, preserve it to whatever extent you want and “TO EACH HIS OWN”

  65. Kris says:

    I agree with you- old ladies (and some younger ones!) botoxed to the hilt look ridiculous! Makes you look like some weird doll. But one thing that stays the same- the eyes… the eyes show your age. There is nothing wrong with taking care of your appereance at any age- but this obsession with youth is ridiculous!

  66. unforgiven says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers

  67. designhouse9 says:

    It’s so disappointing to see celebrities with work done on their faces and bodies. So many have lost their natural beauty by doing this. Their altered faces will never be the same. Sometimes I see the before and after pictures and I think, “If only you hadn’t, you’d be so much more attractive now”.

    Our society is very youth-focused when it comes to celebrities and the media. There are millions of women in the world who are aging gracefully and beautifully.

  68. Angie says:

    Hi – Finding role models for healthy body sizes and aging is (on a healthy day), not something I do. Other days, I find myself wanting to compare myself. I never know who has had work and who just has good habits. I find myself wanting to look like women on television / in movies/ in magazines, but I know that does not make any sense. I know that I should be OK with me as me, but I still find myself thinking about emulating some of these people so I figure I might as well have good people in mind for days where I start to make comparisons.

    I used to think Kelly Ripa and Elisabeth Hasselbeck were ‘reasonable’ for me – I am a working Mom with kids of similar ages. However, from what I have heard them say / read in interviews, the exercise routines they follow are not feasible for me. Likewise, I’m not blond or wear clothes that even remotely resemble what these women wear. It’s just not logical for me to try to resemble these women.

    Lately I’ve been thinking women like Ivanka Trump, Stacy London, and Mika Brzezinski might be better role models. I still want to have an attitude where I don’t feel compelled to compare myself to other women. However, I am not perfect and I know I will have days where I compare myself. I just hope I have healthy people in mind.

  69. LaughyTaffy says:

    This subject matter is so dear and close to my heart. I am a school counselor and I did my thesis on girl’s and body image. According to the NEDA girl’s as young as 5-6 are developing body image problems and eating disorders.The DSM of Mental Disorders reports that 90% of patients with eating disorders are female and the on set age is between 13-18. We have a huge epidemic in our country and many young girls and young woman are losing the battle. There needs to be more education and support for girls so we can prevent serious body image problems in the future. I believe we are all “Special Creations of God” And the bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I would like to see some big corp. from the beauty industry take responsiblity for it’s role it has on portraying unrealistic beauty ideals. Dove Corporation’s Campaigne for Real Beauty is a great example of a Helath and Beauty related company making a difference by offers mother daughter workshops, free training and Body Talk Workbooks.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.