My husband’s nintey-four year old grandmother is the most beautiful woman I know–both physically and spiritually. She glows with the love of God–not pricey creams and cosmetics. in return everyone loves and wants to be near her. Although she doesn’t eskew a weekly trip to the beauty parlor, her true beauty was developed through a lifetime of loving others out of devotion to Christ. She is a great example to me. thank you for this post.
My husband will be 72 in May and he still doesn’t look his age. Jet black hair sprinkled now with more gray in it. he works out everyday by taking a 5 mile walk or a 3 mile walk. Works on an excerise bike, and a rowing machine. Cleans a church and still mows the lawn with hand mower and shovels with a regular shovel. sometimes he feels his age but he sure doesn’t look it.
Although the text of this article is encouraging, I think it would have been better served with a picture along the same lines, one which celebrated age rather than almost mocking it. there are at least a few Hollywood women who aged with grace and dignity (Honor Blackman and Katharine Hepburn being two).
It is definitely not a sin to look your age, but there is much to be said for taking time to care of your physical self, especially with good food and exercise (especially strength training. I am 43 and smack-dab in the middle of reconciling myself to the fading of my youthful beauty, which has always been modest at best. I want to internalize the fact that true beauty is not outward, while also maintaining as much physical attractiveness as is possible at “my age” (whatever age God allows me to reach).
I just turned 60 and I have the lines to prove it. I’ve looked after myself/my skin/my weight to a reasonable degree… not always as well as I should, but I am in reasonable shape.
I’ve looked at many other women being ‘augmented’ or botoxed or nipped, tucked or sucked and have thought a good deal about it.
I’m not about to say that the extremes of the beauty industry are ungodly, but there are times when I’ve wondered why we’re so afraid to show who we are. Women like Candice Bergen look so beautiful, with the beauty of maturity. Conversely, many women who have had various procedures look downright odd. I look at well known women on TV and think ‘who are you? what have you become?’
The once beautiful Goldie Hawn is a case in point. She looks completely freaky…
The need to spend all that money on what is tantamount to self mutilation (when people are starving to death even in western countries) is nothing but the downright desperation of women who are afraid of their own mortality.
Stay healthy and don’t worry about beauty. (age 55)
I appreciate this article and I so agree with Bev — the ones who get into plastic surgery begin to look quite odd. It seems to me (and this is just from observation) that plastic surgery can be addictive. You get something done and it looks better to you so you do it again and again and again. Aging is a gift in itself. We need to find that gift within all of its challenges.
The older woman in the photo would have been better portrayed minus the garish lipstick and pink feathers. that said, we can’t change the culture until we change the church. We mostly chase the same ideals of beauty and sideline the less attractive. (And I’ve been taught that Abraham’s biography was not written in the linear/chronological fashion we expect in the West and that Sarah was younger than 65ish.)
Michelle, I love this line : “As we affirm that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, we must include the reality that even our graying hair and sagging midsections proclaim God’s creativity and beauty in the same way a starry sky or a blooming rose does.”
Exactly. I have the body God gave me, and it sure looks different now than at birth or in college of just 10 years ago. I stay active and eat right but this body is not going to win me any awards in this world. That’s ok, though, since my Creator loves what he has made.
Thanks for helping us to remember that about others too, Michelle.
I have to disagree with the others; I like the picture chosen. most older women I know wear that kind of lipstick and she looks like a fiesty wonderful woman.
Maybe people aged slower during the Patriarch’s lifetimes than they do today? If you remember, people lived longer in Abram/Sarai’s time. She lived to be 127. the average life span now is around 75/80 years old, a fraction of life spans in early Genesis. For all we know, Sarai could have been the equivalent of her 30/40s when Pharaoh took her to be his bride. I don’t mind getting older and showing it. I’m in my early 40s, have a few gray hairs and a few wrinkles. my grandmothers went gray early and have/had lots of wrinkles so I feel blessed to look the way I do.
I’ve always thought desirability was as much about the twinkle in the eye and being “fully alive” as it was about skin tone.
That kind of beauty knows no aging.
I appreciate some of your thoughts in this article and I think it could spark some interesting discussion. however, I wonder if it takes the assumption that as women decay physically, they’re beautiful “just because.” I think the Bible talks about us not depending on our outward beauty because it does eventually disappear; and when it does, an even lovelier inward beauty should be revealed for others to see. I know a few 60+ women who are simply lovely…and the inside can’t be separated from the outside, because it’s the whole of them that is beautiful.
But growing in the beauty of the Lord doesn’t happen automatically. Unfortunately, I know more many older women who don’t inspire me at all. and frankly, they’re unattractive because of what I do see…
I was just imaginging what it would’ve been like to be in your church when the reaction to those remarks came. Wow. Honestly, some of the most beautiful people I have known are older. Mi abuela who died at 88 and this wonderful lady named Helen in Huntsville, Texas who is part of my Renovare Institute cohort, is so beautiful. She is nearly 73.
I wonder if women (or men) like Demi who are often praised for their outer beauty feel lost when they’ve “lost” what they’ve been known for all along. It seems like a crisis of identity. I wonder if it’s the same for athletes no longer competing or pastors no longer ministering in the same fashion as they did when they were younger.
Your point stands and is well said. thank you!
Bravo! Well said. I am working on the inside of me, so that I don’t fall into this trap. It is so hard when the world bombards us with a different standard!!
I think it would have been helpful to mention the double standard which exits regarding older men and older women. It is much more accepted for men to age naturally and keep those leading man roles. Not so for women. also, in Europe, they do not seem to have the American obsession with youthfulness, as older actresses work longer in a variety of roles. come to think of it, even younger actors and actresses in Europe are not the picture perfect faux humans that we expect our actors, actresses and models, really anyone in the public eye, to be.
Michele Jinn’s comment on aging in Abraham and Sarai’s time seems an important point. They reportedly lived to be much older. I heard a sermon once from a pastor who inaccurately depicted the aged Moses as greatly diminished. the Bible says he was in top form until he died. We need to give writers more time to do their research.
Mother George was a Texan who became a missionary in Liberia, West Africa, and had a remarkably successful ministry and, although the structures of schools and churches were rugged, the lives changed were truly changed. in her 90′s she was in our home at lunch time but refused to eat because she was fasting. She had just been awarded a special high honor and medal but the president of Liberia and wore it around her neck over a most out-of-style dress. As she was walking down the stairs to leave, our 16-year old daughter said, “That is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.” No, not physically but her life overshadowed any imperfections.
Thank you, Michelle. I am 57, and look 57. I am glad. there is a lot I have gone through in life, many blessings, many trials, and I would like credit for every year lived. I am grateful for a family which put more value on life lived than appearance.
Amen! This has been a topic in my mind for quite some time, particularly after having a college professor years ago profess that she was going to ignore the must-stay-young-looking battle. She has, and she’s amazing. You don’t notice her age, because her vitality shines through any wrinkles, etc. and why do we hate wrinkles? I’m working on appreciating them: my laugh lines, my proofs that I’m a mom and someone who likes to smile, etc., should not be reason for shame.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
I thank God for HIS word.
Well said. I think far, far too often, the church mimics the world at large, only tries to be a little nicer and put the God stamp on it thinking that makes it ok. It doesn’t.
“As we affirm that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, we must include the reality that even our graying hair and sagging midsections proclaim God’s creativity and beauty in the same way a starry sky or a blooming rose does.” Absolutely!!
What a great post, Michelle. I agree with what others have said about taking care of ourselves. But this celebrity/media-driven madness to look freakishly young at any cost is very, very sad. thanks for giving a larger framework from which to view this.
One of the things I love about older people is that they have the face they have “lived into,” rather than the face God gave them. As young people we have the luck of the draw, but age brings individuality, and a story, to our faces. I’ve always hoped I will turn out like some of the older women I know who have too many laugh lines to count.
This has also been brought home to me by, very occasionally, seeing an older person whose face I hoped not to have, where an emotion like dissatisfaction or self-pity is written very plainly.
Another thing about the double standard between men and women was brought home to me lately–and I think this is connected–the question of whether it’s OK to have a scar. according to the cultural paradigm, women are supposed to be flawless. No blemishes. If a man has a scar on his face it proves his active manliness, but if a woman has one it does nothing but detract from her beauty–according to the culture.
Well, I recently got a scar on my face. It’s quite visible though I expect it will fade somewhat. I got it in a minor farming accident while wrangling alpacas. and the more I think about it, the more I resent the notion that this is terrible and that it would have been better for me never to touch an alpaca. I would rather live a life in which I *do* things, darnit, rather than sit home and protect my flawlessness. the scar, like any other line in my face, is a story–and it’s a story I’m proud of, actually. As much as any man.
So, I see wrinkles the same way. If it were possible to put our faces safely in a box (C.S. Lewis’ “heart in a box” analogy comes to mind) and never do anything with them for seventy years, never smile at friends, kiss husbands and children, frown at the things that make us angry or furrow our brows with thought–and then get them out, flawless and shining, in our old age, would it be worth it?
We can assume that Sarah’s attraction 4000 years ago was “her brother’s” massive fortune. Tribal leaders married for financial gain, protection, and political alliances, not for personality or beauty. that was simply a polite fiction.
And, as a fascinating aside, in the U.S., it wasn’t until the last couple of decades that people put “love and mutual attraction” OR good looks near the top of the priority list, See the interesting 53-year study by four university researchers called “A half Century of Mate Preferences.”
It’s a sin to spend a fortune to NOT look your age.
Ha! good one ali!
Her.meneutics: Is It a Sin to Look Your Age?