Coming to terms with losing your looks as you age need not be difficult if you adopt the right focus and beliefs.
When I turned 27, I had a bit of a quarter-life crisis. I basically freaked out about getting ‘old’ and had to examine a lot of beliefs I held about myself.
Part of this freak-out was the apprehension of losing my beauty with age, and subsequently my value as a woman (wait what? Yeah…more about this later).
I’d identified so long with being a young, attractive 20-something, that when I started to realise I was closer to being 30 than 20-something, and that ‘young and attractive’ wasn’t going to last forever, I felt panicked.
Who was I if I wasn’t this definition anymore? What did I have to offer to the world?
Being sold youth equals beauty…and the trap we all fall into
In society, youth and beauty is often seen to go hand-in-hand:
You’re young, therefore you’re beautiful. Or, you’re beautiful, therefore you’re young.
If you hold both these things, especially as a woman, you’ve got a lot of social currency to spend.
Doors magically open for you. People pay attention to you and are nice to you without you having to lift a finger.
It’s easy to lean into this without realising it, because a) it’s pretty much forced on to you and b) I mean…why not?
Where it goes wrong though, is when you start incorporating these traits into your self-identity and seeing your youth or looks as the only, or most important thing you have to offer.
You start believing society telling you that this is how you add value to the world and this is what makes you special and worthy.
I didn’t even realise I was absorbing these messages until my quarter-life crisis happened and I was interrogating why I felt the way I did.
I was afraid of getting old and losing my looks because I felt my value came from being young and beautiful.
What kind of messed up thinking is that? And this is coming from someone who considers herself a feminist.
As a woman, you don’t need me to tell you that you are more than your physical appearance, or that you have more to offer the world than your looks.
You know that’s the truth deep down, no matter how insecure you’re feeling at the moment.
The problem with letting society, or any external source for that matter, dictate your self-worth is that you end up giving your power away. You let other people, or external circumstances control how you feel about yourself.
You’re only attractive if you look a certain way or are under a certain age.
You’re only likable if other people find you likable.
You’re only worthy if other people find you worthy.
Don’t fall into this trap. It’s a goose chase that will lead you nowhere.
Any external criteria you use to value yourself is at risk of being pulled away without your consent, because there will always be elements outside your control.
You can’t be young and beautiful forever (or at least society’s definition of it). And you can lose your wealth and power in an instant if the right circumstances line up.
So what happens then?
You have an identity crisis and self-worth meltdown, that’s what.
How to come to terms with losing your looks as you age
So how to deal with getting old and losing your looks?
You need to build a more empowering self-identity.
I talked above about how you’re basically shooting yourself in the foot if you let external criteria, or things outside your control, creep into how you value yourself.
Therefore, you need to look in the opposite direction to build your new, more empowering self-identity.
This means looking internally, to something you can control, that won’t fade with age and won’t change without your consent.
Which usually then means looking at your attitudes and actions, because they’re the only things you can control 100% of the time.
Look at your principles, the values you live by and the impact you want to have on those around you and let these define you.
What do you want to add to the world? What do you want to be known for?
Do you want to be someone who always treats others with respect? That lifts others up with your positivity? That acts generously towards the ones you love?
Connect with the person you want to be and the impact you want to have on the world, and let these things become the basis of your identity and value.
They will always have a more lasting and profound impact than a pretty face.
Stop seeing yourself as just your looks. You are more. A million gazillion times more.
Step into the power and impact you can have beyond this narrow definition.
When you realise your own power, you’ll transcend any worry about losing your looks because it will just be unimportant in comparison to your life’s mission. Whether that be raising kids you are proud of or just putting a smile on someone’s face during your day.
If you need a bit of help with self-exploration to define this for yourself, here are my suggestions:
- Find what your core values are – Our values are the qualities, principles and beliefs that we find important. Our core values shape our lives but most people are never even consciously aware of what theirs are. Once you know your core values, you’ll understand what fulfils you, the type of life you want to lead and the type of person you want to be.
- Journal – We all have a vision in our heads of what our ideal self or best self looks like. Get it out of your head and on to paper so you can see it clearly.
Who do you want to be? What character traits do you want? How do you act? How do you want others to describe you?
Imagine your own funeral. What do you want to be said about you in your eulogy? What do you want to be your legacy or what you’re remembered for?
- Create a personal mission or purpose statement for your life – This article and this article provide great guidance on crafting one.
The bottom line
If you’re struggling with coming to terms with losing your looks as you age, I really encourage you to examine your beliefs. Why are you scared of losing your looks? What does it represent for you?
If you’re anything like me and have let society infiltrate your thinking and built part of your self-identity and self-value on these superficial traits, don’t let them keep defining you.
You are more than your looks, you are a whole person with unique talents, perspectives and value to add to the world.
Don’t forget about these other important parts of yourself.
Build the foundation of who you are from within and it will never fail you.
Let your actions, beliefs and behaviour define you, not your age and how many men turn when you enter a room, or even the house you own or the job title you hold.
When you make this shift, getting old and losing your looks won’t matter. It will become completely irrelevant to who you are, and the true value you know you can bring to the world.