Why do some moments make it to the memory bank? and others so easily become forgettable? This is a topic that absolutely fascinates me and my own theory is that every memory holds a gem. A lesson, that will ultimately help guide our journey through life.
After starting this blog I have been amazed at how many memories have come flooding back to me. The moments that have shaped who I am as a woman, wife, mother, friend, sister and daughter. Every time they appear in the forefront of my minds eye, it is as if they are inviting me to witness them in detail and search for the wisdom contained within.
A memory that keeps popping to mind recently and demanding my attention has everything to do with the passage of age and the evolution of beauty.
As a woman one of the big challenges I face, and am constantly working through, is how much I allow my appearance to define who I am. Like many other women, I love to look and feel beautiful and be desired. There is a certain power that comes with beauty and there is no denying that it can be intoxicating. I fear the loss of beauty and I have misguided myself to believe that age will eventually steal it from me.
This fear undoubtedly stems from popular culture and the widely accepted notion that beauty is exclusively linked with youth. If we don’t look like a fresh faced (and heavily airbrushed) 20 something year old, then we are not truly beautiful. Any slight hint of age, and we immediately start looking for ways to mask it and create an illusion of youth. This obsession is what has bolstered the billion dollar Botox phenomena and not to mention the entire cosmetic surgery industry (which I should add is not all bad and everyone has the right to do whatever they wish to their body).
So what is the memory and why does it haunt me?
Quite some time ago my husband and I were entertaining an international business colleague and his wife at our home, we will call him Mr. X. Both Mr. X and his wife are highly accomplished individuals in their late sixties. As we enjoyed an elaborate array of cakes and exotic tea we listened to their tales of travel, career success and life experiences. We then came to the wonderful story of how they met.
Mr. X unfortunately began the story with “When she was younger she was truly beautiful”. Beyond that statement I zoned out. I was angry. Here sat a woman who was still beautiful, a woman in her sixties who had a great sense of style and flaunted heels that captured my heart the moment she walked into the room. She was striking and despite her age, in my eyes she was beautiful.
She did not flinch at his hurtful comment but I could not help but think it must of upset her. Had he not been an important business associate I perhaps would of spoken my mind. I would of stood up for her and all other women who feel they are no longer beautiful because they are in their later stages of life.
I have already warned my husband never to say anything even remotely like that and perhaps that is the answer. Each of us as women need influence the collective mind and rewrite the definition of beauty. We need first to believe in the notion, that beauty is a state of being as opposed to a specific set of appearances; Not simply pay it lip service but actually embody it as truth. In doing so we inspire younger generations to face the inevitable passage of time with confidence rather than fear. This is why I believe women like Linda Rodin, Iris Apfel and Sarah Jane Adams have captured so much attention (if you don’t know them, look them up and follow them immediately).
These women (mentioned above) make me excited to grow older, wiser and more courageous. They unashamedly defy the notion that the ‘young have all the fun’ and in my opinion they are beautiful. Another wonderful woman who has influenced me is the Grandmother of my dear friend Kathryn Eisman. Nana Anna as she was lovingly known, was one of the most elegant and graceful women I have ever encountered. The last time I saw Nana Anna she was 93 and looking as exquisite as ever. Always meticulously put together in great fashion, she had a certain joy and enthusiasm for life that shined bright right up until her last days. I know her mere presence had an impact on many, as she was a perfect example of a woman who had a beauty that was ageless.
Nana Anna radiated beauty from within and it was her inner world that shaped her external appearance. If we aspire to live in a world where the individual is celebrated and beauty is a state of being as opposed to an unrealistic ideal, we first need to be that within our own being. As Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, though I am almost certain he was not referring to the world of appearances, I do believe being your own kind of beautiful does have a positive impact. When you are your own kind of beautiful you give other women (and men) permission to be the same.
I am grateful the memory popped into my mind as I truly do believe it held a lesson I need to remind myself of daily. As Deepak Chopra says “Use your memories, don’t let your memories use you”.
With love and magic