This worry is understandable, writes Eleanor Gordon-Smith, columnist of advice. You need to redefine what you deem lovely in order to break through it.
I am a young woman who is conventionally attractive.
I’m happy and confident; in my life, I have wonderful people and relationships; in college, I do well and look forward to my future. Yet, I spend a stupid amount of time worrying about my looks, considering my tremendous good fortune and privilege.
Every day, I track my face and body. My fear of getting older is even more depressing: I’m constantly nervous about how my appearance will decline as I age.
This is a sexist waste of time, I know; it is disrespectful to myself and to all the older women I dread becoming.
But it seems I can’t shake it.
I wish I could be less obsessed with it. Oh, how can I?
Eleanor says: First of all, don’t be too self-impatient.
Getting this profession does not make you arrogant or void.
A billion-dollar industry, even if you know it’s a sexist waste of time, is built to take advantage of your attention and cash.
It may have been 80 years ago that it was appropriate to say that looks were a woman’s only metric, but that’s just two or three cycles of daughters sitting on the edge of the bathtub watching their mothers put on make-up and step on the scale.
Most of us have spent a tragic amount of time looking at the only body we’ll ever have, if any, disappointedly.
That this is disrespectful to the woman you fear being, I love the way you put it.
I don’t think you’re scared of being like them, though.
I think you are afraid of being seen, even by you, in the way they are seen.
When part of you subscribes to the system that rejects them, I think you’re afraid of how it would feel to live in a wrinkled, softer body.
The good news is that what you consider lovely can be retrained.
I know this because I had to raise a lot of pounds in a rush once, and my friends realized that in an Instagram environment, this is not easy for a woman. They tried to distinguish beauty from thinness – showing me vivid, laughing pictures of people who took up a lot of space; they would point out a passing woman whose breasts hung low and shifted as she did, remarking to each other aloud that she looked shapely, feminine, free, and humorous. The smooth, intimate Aphrodite curve of a belly above the pubic bone, the glimpse of the crease where arm and breast meet under the strap of an undershirt. They praised body parts I had never thought of.
Over time, it changed my visual perception literally – now I don’t see thinness as beautiful.
I don’t like my ribs being able to see them.
I like to feel a dense density between me and the chair on which I’m sitting.
When I weigh more, I find like it is more beautiful.
Something similar, particularly with age, I think you can do.
Lines may be the etchings of your greatest smile, the frowns from which you have learned, evidence that you are evolving and -.
Delete everybody who is skinny and 20 on Instagram.
Seriously, what are you taught by them? Nothing you need to understand or like. Concentrate on the parts of you that over time will not lose weight – laughter and intelligence are not like collagen. As you get older, you’ll build more out of it.
And keep in mind that our default viewing methods are not normal or required.
Every statue in every museum attests that we didn’t always believe the peak of beauty was slender teenagers.
Seeing is intertwined with believing; don’t let juvenile men in boardrooms who want to take your money from you put both before you.
Ask a Question for us
Do you have a conflict that you need assistance with, a crossroads, or a dilemma? Eleanor Gordon-Smith will help you think about life’s big and small questions and conundrums. Questions can be asked anonymously.
If you have trouble using the form, click here.