Uns Baban, architect and writer
By Uns Al Shabib Baban
Age is a hot subject for us these days. Whether we decide to announce our age or not, one thing is clear, it is definitely an ongoing issue which we discuss at length – along with (hypothetically of course!) exploring possibilities for banishing the ravages of time. The other day I was looking at myself in the mirror. Ah, my eyes need tucking, my neck needs lifting, and my derriere needs reshaping all together. It’s an endless process…. On average, a woman starts thinking about plastic surgery in her early forties (my skin for example started aging soon after 40). She spends the first 12 years of her life as a child. Then she blossoms and wows with her youth until she’s 40. This gives around 30 years of youthful beauty, which only makes about 40 percent of an average woman’s life, according to the New Life Expectancy Rates (see this Wikipedia entry for an overview).
So, what should we do with the rest of our lives, the majority of our lives in fact? Should we keep chasing the youthful look we lost?
My dear friends, I have worked very hard all my life trying to gain wisdom and forming opinions based on this. Finally I’m at that time of my life with admittedly, some precious wrinkles that I have earned in the process. Is it logical for me to feel ashamed of them?
Why is old age not beautiful? I believe it is just a social paradigm, which means that it is something we can change.
I’ll tell you why. Let’s look beyond our surroundings.
Foot-binding in Chinese culture
Cultures around the world perceive beauty differently. I remember reading about some African and Asian cultures where women wear metal rings around their necks all their lives. They believe that it is beautiful and worth the suffering. Another article was about the Chinese culture that had the custom of binding the feet of young girls painfully tight to prevent further growth. The tiny narrow feet were considered beautiful and feminine, though severely deformed.
A lip plate can be considered beautiful by some
The lip plate is the worst, in my opinion. Some African cultures had the custom of fixing plates to their lower lips. To them, this is considered beautiful and ‘sexy’?!
Why are these things beautiful to some and ugly to others?
Essentially, our individual perception of beauty is completely different. For example, if we belonged to a culture that perceived wrinkles as a beautiful sign of wisdom, we would happily live happily with our saggy bodies for the rest of our lives…
When I look at a mature woman with beautiful silver hair who is just as elegant as any young lady can be, I find her beautiful in a special way. Her beauty is different than the beauty of a woman in her thirties, just as the beauty of a woman in her twenties is different than the beauty of a little girl. Each stage of life has its own beauty. We should cherish ours, whatever stage of life we are at.
Our standards of beauty are being imposed on us by the cosmetic industry and the diet product industry. Mass-media is the implementation tool (some might even say weapon). Images of female bodies are everywhere. They represent ideals that are difficult to achieve and maintain. The purpose is, of course, to assure growth and profits for those industries. Women, and their body parts, sell everything from food to cars. And, it’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. Maybe not all women need to lose weight, but we are certainly all ageing! In fact, according to the beauty industry, age is a disaster that needs to be dealt with.
Age has its own beauty
So, why should I buy things that are based on exploiting my anxiety around my weight and age?
It is now proven that our opinions, regarding everything, depend on the filters imposed on our lives and our minds.
What we need to do is ignore or change those filters!
Shifts in essential beliefs do happen.
There was a time in history before Christopher Columbus discovered America when the world was thought to be flat. If one travelled too far one would drop off the edge of the world. Columbus discovered the world was not flat but round. A paradigm shift occurred. The world did not change. Perception did, and everything changed accordingly.
The limitations we experience in life are of our own making. The only things which hold us back from enjoying all the blessings life has to offer are our own thinking and beliefs. Being women, we are not helpless as so many of us believe. We are strong spiritual beings with the power to control our own destinies, but only if we decide to.
The power to become who I’m meant to be lies not outside of me, but inside my head. This power can only be exercised by me, personally. I can choose to give it away (as most of us do!), or I can choose to harness it so it and I reach full potential.
We have a choice. We can live life like our grandmothers did, or we can use our inner powers to dance through the coming years of our lives and enjoy them to the full!
- I’m determined to carry on aging gracefully – taking care of my body and mind as long as I possibly can.
- I’m determined to appreciate every precious wrinkle on my face and body.
- I’m determined to try to change the perceptions of people around me; encouraging them to start appreciating the beauty of a mature woman based on her merits and her wisdom.
I want to live life through my own eyes and express my own soul. I want to love myself and the way I look. I owe myself a lot.
I’m going to laugh and dance through what’s left of my life and enjoy every single day of it.
Dancing Away the Years