The challenges of ageing to the female ‘beauty myth’

None of us idealise getting older, but it seems that this is a phenomenon even harder for women than men. The cultural ideal of female beauty becomes even harder to live with when you start to get on in years, as we are daily reminded by the amount of anti-ageing creams and cosmetics on the market. For men, maturity often seems more dignified.

The pressure of fighting the progress of the years can do more damage than good to your inner wellbeing, and at its worst extent, even damage your mental health. Ultimately, stress does more damage to inner and external beauty than the years can ever do. None of us should ever forget that it is the inner quality of our experience that’s important, not external appearance.

For women, it seems that there are all kinds of beauty dictates as they get older. The pressure to fight ageing actually starts young; for example, in the recommendation to have regular facials in order to prevent wrinkles later. Though it often doesn’t hit home in your 20s, your 30s could well be spent with an undercurrent of stress, ever-vigilant for the first line that appears on your face. The 40s and 50s carry all the challenges of menopause in addition to this pressure. And from middle age there are all kinds of messages about what not to wear and how to wear your hair. Forty and fifty year old women are often frowned upon for wearing outfits that they happily wore the decade before. And in your fifties and sixties the message seems to be – ‘get a bob’. Long flowing hair is seldom seen on older women and this sends the message that greying hair is something to be covered up and put away neatly.

For all of us, it is important to wear the clothes and hairstyle that we love. If covering up grey makes you feel more confident then why not? But, obsessing over what people think is only going to destroy your emotional wellness. Long before you think about your physical appearance, consider how you can cultivate a life that gives you full self-confidence and inner contentment.

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