I bet she was beautiful when she was younger…

This is a familiar line that  I’ve probably said myself.  It’s a recognition of physical attributes that are somehow not translated to the present.

And there are a ton of quotes about inner beauty.  Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty – they merely move it from their faces into their hearts. — Martin Buxbaum.   Still these catchy, seemingly comforting phrases speak only to standards of beauty that must include youth.

Lately I’ve been with a lot of women of “a certain age” and beyond, so I recognize true beauty.

Their eyes are stunning.  From the bluest, the palest gray to the deepest brown, they look at me squarely and deeply.  They don’t avoid my glance or my intense desire to see into their thoughts. There is no wavering, avoidance, or veering away.

A lot of years have passed since I have seen many of these women and our faces tell who we are now.  The smooth contours of our youth have been reshaped by our lives and by our attitudes.

And I see no lines of bitterness, only the vulnerability of sorrow and heartache on some.  The firmness of youth is replaced with the definition of resolve.  The maps of wrinkles on their faces reflect life concerns but are mostly overwhelmed by crinkles and designs formed by laughter.

With familiarity the signs of aging disappear into faces that express contentment and appreciation for the blessings and privileges that we enjoy.  These women are not sad memories of past beauty.  They are modern and ageless women who reflect their intelligence and their abiding interest in all that is around us and within us.  They treasure their history and anticipate what is ahead.

It isn’t all inner beauty.  It is (somewhat) smooth cheeks with a rosy glow of health.  It’s shining eyes that may be deeper set but that still dance with or without a hint of mascara.  It is lips, unplumped and un-botoxed, yet perfectly formed with a smile of pleasure or a tremor of emotion.

It is beauty.  It isn’t a ghost of past beauty.  It is living, flourishing beauty.



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