April 15, 2016
This essay was written as part of an empowerment campaign, “Wear Yourself In,” led by eco-luxe skin care company Kari Gran. In response to the beauty industry pushing an impossible idea of flawless youth for years, the campaign encourages women to be kind to themselves, and their skin, as they reflect on beauty, aging, wisdom, and self-acceptance.
Kari Gran, the namesake of the brand, was a successful real estate broker, who - when diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder - began searching for natural alternatives to the beauty products she was long obsessed with. Yearning for something simple and elegant, she turned her obsession into a new career and created the little black dress of eco-skin care.
It’s an interesting thing, having your “second act” in the beauty industry. It’s true that I’ve always been a bit of a heat-seeking missile when it comes to beauty products, but I tried to start “fixing” myself long before I even used a beauty product. By the ripe old age of 19, I was at the department store beauty counter buying wrinkle cream. If I wasn’t fixing my face, I was on the never ending diet or cleanse or detox, or all of the above. Oh boy, there’s certainly something wrong with this picture and frankly, it’s a bit exhausting.
Fast forward to age 43, when this all became a reality of living every day in a world that I never thought I’d be lucky enough to work in – the beauty industry. Wait, but where are the women that look like me? I’m sure they are there, but I do believe they are few and far between. In my day-to-day research projects, I was bombarded by photos of really lovely young women, like in their early 20s young. So, now looking back at pictures of myself in my early 20s, I admire the full face that used to elicit a cringe. I’m not having a “wish I still had that moment” instead, I wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself. I also see images of really elegant, beautiful women over 70, but once again, outside of the celebrity community, I was missing out on the women in the middle – you know, the women my age.
Five years later, I’m on the move towards my 50s. Forty-three felt more like 40 and 48 doesn’t. Physically, things are just different. It’s not bad, it’s just what is. I have a much more grounded sense of myself and rather than let the critical thoughts in my head rule (even though they so speak awfully loud at times). I’m taking the “be kind” to yourself approach. For me, it’s about carving time out of the day to do things that make me feel better. Exercising at 6 a.m. with a wake-up call at 5 a.m. is not my idea of fun. I’m still not a morning person. Perhaps one day I’ll spring out of bed and greet the day with a great big “hello.” Until then, I’ll be a grade-A jerk for five minutes after the alarm sounds.
Good food, yes; I like to eat good food. Bonus points for food that’s good for me. The days of microwave popcorn and licorice for dinner are long behind me. In full disclosure, stress and fatigue don’t lead me to the path of real food, so it’s nice to be more mindful as I’ve gotten a little older – and wiser. It’s taken me a really long time to shake the diet mentality. Food is not a reward, nor is it a punishment. Food is nourishment. Luckily, I have a real life role model, right here in the office. Lisa is the zen master of moderation. She deprives herself of nothing but doesn’t fall face first into a bag of cookies either when life goes a bit sideways. Plus, she looks amazing and is NEVER on a diet. How refreshing.
Meditation has been my saving grace. Carving out 20 minutes in the morning has proven to be essential to my sanity. This is one thing I do not skip, ever. The second 20 minutes in the evening, well sometimes it turns into 10, and really makes an unbelievable difference.
At the end of the day, I’m still a human being and even knowing what my “magic pill” in the wellness category doesn’t always mean I’m going to take it. Same goes for self-sabotaging behavior. I’m pretty sure I know the definition of crazy – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The beauty of being older really does translate to being wiser. Truth is, when you know better, you do better. Most days.