On Beauty… And Aging


I know what worries me most when I look in the mirror and see the old woman with no waist. It’s not that I’ve lost my beauty — I never had enough to carry on about. It’s that that woman doesn’t look like me. She isn’t who I think I was.     Ursula K. Le Guin

I found these words in an article on Brain Pickings (brainpickings.org), a free website that publishes fascinating articles on different topics written by a wide variety of distinguished authors.

One caught my eye with its title, “Ursula K. Le Guin On Aging and What Beauty Really Means.”

The year I got divorced was also the year I turned 65 and officially crossed the numbers threshold of being a SENIOR. Amazing and scary on so many different fronts!

For a lifetime, I have looked in the mirror to see blurred versions of the face and body of a changing me, but it’s always been a me I recognize. Since I became a senior, I find myself looking around at other women my age or older and well, I just can’t see myself being one of them. Am I also covered in dark spots with lumpy fingers and sagging jowls?

Truthfully? The true answer is “yes.” And if I really take a close look in that mirror…there I am all saggy and soft and old. It’s a tough one, isn’t it? And maybe even a little bit worse being “of an age” and divorced. Talk about blows to the ego!

In this article, Ms. Le Guin writes about how to accept the disappearance of the beauty that is defined by youth and recognize the true beauty within ourselves. Letting go and accepting–the journey of life.

There’s the ideal beauty of youth and health, which never really changes, and is always true. There’s the ideal beauty of movie stars and advertising models, the beauty-game ideal, which changes its rules all the time and from place to place, and is never entirely true. And there’s an ideal beauty that is harder to define or understand, because it occurs not just in the body but where the body and the spirit meet and define each other.


I found a lot of comfort in this article, a new way of looking at ME. Yes, my skin is saggy and wrinkled and that spare tire around my waist has taken up permanent residence. My knees and hips hurt, and why are they putting on jar lids so tightly these days? But there is the flip side to this. I’ve lived and loved and done things. I’m still here. Those age spots on my hands are tattoos of experience: gardens planted, letters written, loving touches. Everything I’ve done so far is recorded on my skin, in my heart, in my soul–a portrait of a life lived.

And I have lots more to add before it’s finished, even on my own.

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