The other day I told a friend how cute her new haircut looks. She replied that she’s trying to take attention away from her salt-and-pepper hair, which is increasingly more salt than pepper. She said she hopes her haircut will make her look younger. And then she paused, looked at me, and asked what I thought of that given my work with Prime Spark.

I said I think that wanting to look younger as we get older is a recipe for unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It’s one thing to want to look healthy and happy with a sparkle and a bounce. It’s fun to look interesting, like a woman someone would want to get to know. To look as if you care about yourself and are taking good care of yourself. But none of this has to do with looking younger. Indeed, all of these things may help you look younger, but that shouldn’t be the goal. The goal is to be happy and content with yourself just as you are.

Women Over 55: You Worked Hard for Those Wrinkles

This is not easy. While flipping through a women’s magazine recently, I noticed a large percentage of ads for skin care products with words like “anti-aging,” “age-defying,” “anti-wrinkle,” “ageless,” and “youthful.” There are products named “Deep Wrinkle Night Cream,” “Anti-Wrinkle Overnight Cream,” “Stem Cellular Lifting Neck Cream,” and on and on. And, curiously, the models don’t look as if they need any of these creams. Or maybe I’m to believe that if I use this product, I, too, will look 33 with not a wrinkle in sight.

During an interview about her role in Big Little Lies, Reese Witherspoon is quoted as saying, “When I saw the first version of it in the editing room, I immediately noticed the little lines on my face and said to myself, ‘I like them, I got them one by one … I worked hard to get these wrinkles.’” I know it’s easy to look at her and say, “Yeah, Reese, if I had your wrinkles and your body, I’d be okay, too.” But we are who we are, and the sooner we can be just fine with that—gray hair, wrinkles, and all—the happier we’ll be. And you did work hard for your wrinkles! Think of all that has gone into making you the phenomenal woman you are today.

Your Best Qualities

When I work with groups of women, I ask them to think about the one quality they like best about themselves. Then, to think of the one thing their close friends would say they like best about them. Does the idea of doing this make your skin crawl? Well, in our groups we often have to wait a very long time for each woman to think of one thing she likes about herself, and one thing her friends like. ONE THING!

There are many reasons for this, of course, but one of the main ones is that women are taught not to brag or to toot their own horns, and doing so makes many of us very uncomfortable. A second reason is that, from a very early age, we are taught that how we look and what we wear are the primary ways others will evaluate us. And this only gets worse as we move into adolescence when sex appeal becomes a defining aspect of our self-image. Given all this conditioning, how can you love your wrinkles, your graying hair, all those bothersome sagging bits and parts?

Love Your Wrinkles

Two suggestions: every morning look in the mirror (the fewer clothes you have on when you do this the better) and say to yourself, “I love you just the way you are. You are beautiful to me.” Secondly, if you don’t already have this, find a group of older women who are active in the world, happy with who they are, and trying every day to ignore the messages from the culture that paints them as old, useless, and unhappy—women who are celebrating one another for being the remarkable women they are at this exciting time in their lives. Spend time with them, and feel yourself growing more and more positive about who YOU are.

One of my weaknesses is Dove Silky Smooth Promises dark chocolate candy (Yum!). Inside every individually wrapped chocolate is a saying. Since I have eaten many, many of these little nuggets, I have seen all of the sayings many times. This one seems especially relevant right now: “Be(you)tiful.” Now in the prime of your life, go live your magnificence. And don’t forget, Women Over 55: You Worked Hard for Those Wrinkles!

Learn More…

The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another, learn and grow together, and further the mission of Prime Spark. Membership currently is closed. If you’re interested in joining, please send an email to [email protected] and ask to be placed on the waitlist.

Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the charge to change how older women are seen and treated in our society. She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take responsibility for their futures. Sara is the author of three books. She also has over forty years’ experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was director of training and development for a Fortune 100 companySara was also an executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!