I was pondering the other day about the use of the word ‘fight’ in the English language, and how it has come to preface many things in our everyday life. There’s fight for equality, fighting illness and disease, fighting for our rights and much more; in fact, it felt very exhausting just writing about all this ‘fighting’. And of course, there’s all the talk about fighting the ageing process.
So, it brought this question to mind – ‘why do we feel we have to fight something that is a natural part of the cycle of our life, something that begins the moment we are born and ends with our last breath?’
Perhaps it is because there is a fear that arises when we talk or think about growing older, the inevitable ageing process and the eventuality of our death, which makes us want to put it off as long as possible? The only problem I see with that, from my own years of experience, is that trying to put something off that is inevitable, is not only futile, but very exhausting and draining on our body. And what I have also discovered is that by draining and exhausting our precious body it more than likely will have the consequence of making us looking older than what we are. Oops!
So, I decided to talk to someone a lot younger than me, and with the reality that most people seem to be younger than me these days, I certainly had a lot of choice. I soon found the opportunity to talk to a beautiful young woman in her mid-30’s and asked her if she and her friends ever talked about getting older and if so, were they concerned about the phase of their life that was going to be inevitable; the ageing process. I was quite shocked when she shared that yes, many of them were, and in some cases, already resorting to procedures, like Botox, fillers etc to look younger. It was definitely a wow moment and one that asked for further consideration and a deeper conversation. Since then I have had even more ‘wow’ moments on hearing about women as young as 17 having the same procedures.
It naturally got me to thinking why these naturally beautiful young women felt that they had to resort to facial procedures, often referred to as appearance medicine, to look younger, ostensibly to hold off ‘old age’ as long as they can. What was going on their lives and within them, to feel the fear of growing older?
Curious to remember if I had this fear as a young woman, I cast my mind back over the years. In doing so, I recalled that in my 30’s I was way too busy being a single parent, supporting elderly parents and working, to even consider that it was time to prop my face up with artificial fillers or to have it, and other parts of my body, nipped and tucked! But I can remember how the stress I was under definitely had me looking much older than I was.
I did join up with the local gym for a while and tucked into my shiny Lycra leotards, bounced around the floor doing what was called ‘Disco-cise’ (yes it was the 80’s!) for a couple of hours every week. Now that’s’ one very vivid, colourful and very energetic memory but I’m not too sure it was designed to stave off ageing.
But for me the getting older thing really didn’t kick in until the day before my 40th birthday. I had never coloured my hair until that day and it was at the insistence of my hair dresser, who said I was too young to have grey hair – and I am sure there weren’t many – that I allowed myself to be hooked into this ageist belief. So, I said yes, and that not very enjoyable process continued for the next 20 years when I finally said, no more, I am ready to see what I really look like under the colour; I wanted to see the real me. And when my true colour finally emerged, I loved it so much that not one ounce of colour has touched my beautiful hair since. And as for my first wrinkle around my eyes. I don’t think I was too freaked out, but I do recall thinking – how did that happen? I’m not old!
This seemingly unconcerned state of being of getting older, on my part, was certainly not from the lack of encouragement as to the best ways to fight ageing that pour forth from every possible media outlet; magazines, television, movies etc all extolling the necessity to put off the ageing process for as long as possible, sometimes in the most bizarre ways. Every women’s magazine is full of ways to change how we look; our shape, our face and even our bottoms.
So why do we often struggle to like the way we look? After all it is who we are, and trying to look like someone else, changing our natural and unique look, because of a fear, a trend or as a result of a not so pleasant comment from someone, could end up taking us far away from who we truly are. These days this doesn’t make sense to me, as I have finally come to know that my beauty comes from how I feel on the inside and no matter how much I change the outside I am still the same beautiful woman on the inside. And it is this inner beauty that shines out to those around me.
Just imagine for a moment, what would happen if on one day, everyone in the world decided to no longer fight the ageing process but to embrace it instead. There would be no need for the multitude of ‘appearance based’ businesses whose profits are based on our fear of getting older, and I am sure, once the fighting was put aside as no longer necessary, we would have so much more energy available for all the important things in life. And as much as I would love to see this day, I have a feeling this is simply not going to happen while we continue to live with the fear of ageing.
So maybe it’s time to begin to understand the cycles of our life and learn to live in a way that really honours and supports our bodies. And by doing so we will naturally flow with our ageing process, without any filling, nipping or tucking needed, and therefore leaving us no reason at all to continue to fight something that is totally natural, something that does not need to be fought, but embraced instead.