Rejecting Beauty Standards at 50 Years Old Wasn’t Intentional!
When I moved into an RV I wasn’t thinking I’d make a statement about beauty standards and our obsession with youth. But here I am three years later, no red hair, makeup or expensive youth-preserving treatments, flaunting my natural, salt-and-pepper hair, laugh-lines, crows feet and full figured menopause-middle. And I’ve never been happier (or freer)!
I ran across this HuffPost article this morning. First it made me cheer. Then it caused me to reflect upon my own experience as a middle aged woman in America. The article, “Stop Telling Me I Look Younger Than My Age” was written by 30 year old Elizabeth Lavis, who, at the age of thirty started hearing , “don’t worry sweetheart you look ten years younger” (I’m paraphrasing).
Her experience as a woman in her thirties made me think about my own process of ‘going natural’ at fifty. How two years into my nomadic RV life I realized how ridiculous it was to keep up my Loreal Paris Superior Preference 5MB Medium Auburn colored hair. I was, after all boondocking on public lands for days at a time and rationing water! Besides, the fake red didn’t really match my new nature-immersed lifestyle.
Natural IS Beautiful!
In my old life, I spent hundreds each month on hair dye, makeup, anti-aging creams, gym memberships, manicures, pedicures, expensive haircuts. As a result, I constantly heard, “wow, you don’t look your age!”. I cringe now to think I took it as a compliment; not yet ‘woke’ to the idea that there is no shame in looking my age!
Now that I live in an RV and have made a conscious decision to stop conforming to America’s fake version of beauty (youth and thinness) I constantly read comments on my YouTube Channel like these: “Wow the road has really aged you, you look horrible”; “You’re 51? OMG you look 70!”; “You’ve really let yourself go, you look like an ugly old hag now”; “You really need to dye your hair red again, you look haggard” ; “The road has not been kind to you, you look so old!”
Of course, I laugh these comments off because I recognize what’s behind them; ageism and society’s fear of getting old.
Beautiful at Any Age
How did I go from looking 10 years younger to looking 20 years older simply by going natural? The answer is, I didn’t. It’s all how society views aging women. I find it fascinating that I went from “looking younger” to “looking old and haggard”. There seems to be no room for “looking my age”. Or even looking like me and how I’m supposed to look at 51!
This chapter of my life, as a menopausal 51-year old woman has been fascinating. I’m learning what it means to be invisible as an aging woman who doesn’t conform to society’s expectations of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it. But it certainly makes me question many of the mores and cultural messages I’ve lived with.
Check out Lavis’ article. It’s a provocative piece. And I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about our obsession with youth and beauty?