Aging is an Attitude: Defining Beauty for Ourselves

Silent-film “siren”, Clara Bow

I feel extremely lucky to have been born female, and extremely proud of my Sisters. Women are strong, smart, resilient and have the unique ability as a sex to call upon ancient truths to guide us in a perilous, male-dominated world. I think of women as a collective of survivors, akin to the micro-animal the Germans who discovered it and named it “Little Water Bear”. This creature can survive both sub-zero temperatures, and heat near 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It does so by adapting its metabolism according to its environment. Women are, as history has shown (and as is currently being played-out in response to events in Alabama), similarly fierce, flexible and enduring.

In addition to the aforementioned qualities, my Sisters are all — each and every one of them — inherently beautiful and alluring. They know this; sometimes at a surface level, where beauty can literally open doors; but more often this self-awareness is subtle, modest and discreet. Women have been leveraging beauty and sexual allure since ancient times, in relationships and in society. Again, some do this overtly, while other women choose to influence in less obvious ways. But we all have beauty, and we all know its power.

As an emerging young woman in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, I benefitted big-time from the atmosphere women were so much a part of creating. Social-media was not yet the guiding light it has become, so women communicated through music, art, speaking and writing. A pivotal book of the times was, “Our Bodies, Ourselves”, which not only educated women about their physical bodies, but encouraged them to honor their sacred femininity in every way. Not every woman embraced such freedom, including the option of eschewing makeup and shaving hair in places our mothers always did. The self-proclaimed “sexploitation” of actress-turned-activist Jane Fonda illustrated just how conflicted women could feel. On other continents, French actresses Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, and Catherine Deneuve maintained a firm grip on the power of sexuality and the art of seduction through film. These women were seen by many Sisters as traitors to the Movement, but I never viewed them that way. They had a clear understanding of their goals, the tools they had at their disposal, and had no qualms about using those tools.

Beauty and sexuality have always been inter-twined, and part of the female toolkit. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. I tease my bewildered male friends (although most have finally become wise to my antics), with a promise (always delayed for some reason or other) of a book about How Women Think and why they do what they do. Men, despite their power and authority in most of the world’s cultures, have no idea of the sleeping-giant of the Sisterhood — but they suspect, and they fear. Our only limitation as women, they way I see it, is not being fully aware of, and “ok” with, the process of getting all of our needs met; nor are we as supportive of one another as we could be. 

When you next look into the mirror, channel a little bit of the 1960’s vibe: remind yourself of your fundamental wisdom as a woman, and of your beauty. Then go ahead and enhance and deploy that beauty however you choose!

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