Photo by: Ivan Stoyneshky

10 Tips that Will Change How You Look and Feel About Beauty

Photo by: Ivan Stoyneshky

Face it: there is no magic solution to aging with grace and dignity. Having just written a book offering guidance to millions of women who feel trapped by conflicting feelings, we think we are on to something. We have found satisfying, long term solutions that help us deal with a culture that virtually programs women to have a crisis over their aging appearance. We were once professional models, so we were made acutely aware how quickly a premium on physical beauty can fade with age. It took hard work and time, but we learned the secret of how to enjoy our changing appearance. Now we are therapists treating hundreds of women who may be fulfilled and evolved in many ways, but are still having difficulty coming to terms with the lines of time. Here are some great psychological tips we tell women to “think” about that help them change the way they “feel” and “look.” They worked for us. They can work for you!

1. Beauty is not just a physical experience, but a psychological one as well. We all tend to think of beauty as a skin-deep issue, all about how we physically look. But research tells us that perception of what is deemed attractive and unattractive is much more complicated. Why do you think some beautiful women say, “I’ve never thought I was pretty”? Yes, even beauties like Uma Thurman and Michelle Pfeiffer have drawn attention to what they consider flaws. Similarly, there are women who may not be your typical image of beauty, yet when you ask them they say they are quite confident in their looks. Serena Williams never tries to cover up her unconventionally muscular physique: in fact, she flaunts it and somehow it makes her more appealing. What makes people feel attractive goes well beyond our physical self. It runs deep, much deeper than the eye can see.

2. Although we can’t stop the physical changes of aging, we can change our experience of aging. No one, not any doctor, dermatologist or surgeon can stop physical changes of aging. There may be ways to look better, take care of your skin and bodies that put things temporarily on hold, at least on the surface. We’re all for that! We’re also for ways we can experience- and even enjoy- our changing looks. If we take care of ourselves, it makes us feel better and we smile more. When we smile, we look more attractive. The sooner we go through an interior process, the better you will feel inside and out.

3. While aging is inevitable and irreversible, self-image is not. Self-image can be fluid and timeless. Self-image is not an actual still picture of oneself. It is an internal experience, how we see ourselves from within, over time throughout our lives. It’s flexible and malleable. And if we understand that self image is changeable, then that is what we try to help women conquer. Not age itself. That’s a battle we can’t win.

4. Beauty is in the “I” of the beholder. If we become our own internal “eye,” we can take control over how we see ourselves, rather than give it over to other people to determine if we’re attractive or not. Our six steps serve to change the internal lens through which we see, not only ourselves, but others as well. The result? Women will be less self critical and less critical of each other.

5. Chronological age does not have to define you. You can define yourself at your chronological age. A particular age has little to do with how old you feel. You can define how you want to be 40, 50 and onward. We also don’t have to let magazine images define what is beautiful. Some women in their 20’s feel old. Some women in their 60’s feel young.

6. Put your beauty in your identity, not your identity in your beauty. Your identity is made up of many aspects of yourself. How you look is just one of them. As you get older, more aspects of yourself can make up your identity; for example, your experiences in life, your accomplishments and your relationships. If you hold onto youthful beauty as a narrow definition of yourself, you’re especially unlikely to enjoy your looks as you age. You leave out so many other ways to feel good about yourself.

7. Take an honest look at who you are, not what you look like. Mirrors tell only a little of what we really look like. Gaze again and go beyond, past your reflection and see who you are as a person. Think of what you see as only the image of yourself, that informs the world of your physical self. But who you are is more than what they see.

8. Rob beauty of its power over you. Take back that power and you will feel more beautiful. Our culture has given beauty power over women. We are told who and what is beautiful. We know that youth is beautiful. Most people see babies as beautiful. But grandmothers can be beautiful as well. Some of the most beautiful women in the world are those who smile, engage and appear happy at any age. If you take back the power of what makes you feel attractive, you will become more attractive to yourself and others.

9. Become less afraid of aging and you will look more beautiful. When you see a face that is scared, you would hardly call it beautiful. There is nothing pretty about fear. Women need to accept that aging happens and that becoming more courageous about all aspects of our lives will enhance them… and us.

10. Beauty matters to all women, but to those who age beautifully, it matters neither too much nor too little. We all know that a core aspect of our identities is our appearance. No doubt our looks matter. But women who allow beauty to matter, but keep it in balance with all other aspects of their lives, can enjoy their looks at any age.

Bottom line: Dealing with your looks as they inevitably change is a psychological process as well as a physical challenge. Master the first and the second will come with much more joy. When it comes to your face, your body and your aging process, be smart, be thoughtful and you’ll be more beautiful.

Vivian Diller, Ph.D, and Jill Muir-Sukenick, Ph.D. coauthored FACE IT: What Women Really Feel As Their Looks Change, edited by Michele Willens; is a psychological guide to help women deal with the emotions brought on by their changing appearances. As models turned psychotherapists, they have had the opportunity to examine the world of beauty from two very different vantage points. This unique perspective helped them develop a six-step program that begins with recognizing “uh-oh” moments that reveal the reality of changing looks, goes on to identify the masks used to cover deeper issues, defines the role beauty plays in a woman’s life, and ends with bidding adieu to old definitions of beauty so women can enjoy their appearance- at any age!

Editor’s Note Share your thoughts in the Comments below, and you may win a free copy of the book! Also, look for Vivian and Jill on the Today Show this Thurs. March 11th at 8AM.

Like This Article

Like Mamapedia

Learn From Moms Like You

Get answers, tips, deals, and amazing advice from other Moms.

You might also like

6 Comments

How fabulous was that? Outstanding! Got me to thinking. Thanks for sharing. God Bless, Tico&Taco

excellent tips and attitudes for women of all ages. as a colour and style consultant i am trying to get under the skin of different women every day and to get them to think well of themselves. "know first who you are and then adorne yourself accordingly"

You bring out the facts of life.That should be read everywhere not by only women but by also men and teenagers.

I find it helpful not to have a full length mirror in the house, to limit the rest of the mirrors and not to look in the mirror very often during the day. Also, I don't buy magazines or watch tv - so the images of size 0 women are not haunting me or informing me of what is normal or desirable. We are formed by what we spend our time looking at. In looking at a magazine where a size 4 woman looked overweight and the size 0 women looked good to me, I realized how dangerous it was...

See entire comment

One of the women I admire most allowed herself to grow old gracefully. She let her hair go naturally grey and it always looked beautiful to me. She's now still lovely looking at nearly 90, and admired by all! It's the radiance from within, the feeling she has inside about who she is and what she's accomplished in nearly 90 years. What a role model for me...I've never wanted to color my hair and I hope I can emulate her in other ways, as well...

See entire comment

I loved the article. I truely believe if we love ourselves, and keep healthy and fit we are all beautiful.
I also believe we need to have a baseline of belief in a higher power to be stable. I would not give up my christian values for anyone.

Leave a Comment

Required
Required (will not be published)
Required (to prove you're human)
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on topic and not abusive
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us
Want to become a contributor?
Want to become a contributor?

If you'd like to contribute to the Wisdom of Moms on Mamapedia, please sign up here to learn more: Sign Up

Recent Voices Posts

See all