Beauty Standards While Growing Up

I’ve been lucky to have a pretty good body image throughout my life. I was awkward when I was young but it didn’t really have much to do with my body. As a teenager, I started to become self-critical and to compare myself to other, prettier girls but that was not unusual and didn’t result in much unhappiness. 

When I was growing up things were not as crazy as they are now. You didn’t have to be blonde, thin, and have a “thigh gap” to be considered good looking. My memory has probably colored things, but I remember health being an important component of beauty. Girls who were athletic were considered desirable.

Social Media And Body Image

As a young woman, I went through some of my generation’s phases: hippie, punk, grunge, goth. Through all of them, I think most of us thought about style more than about body image. Then, mass and social media took over our phases and things became very crazy: a new era in which you were encouraged constantly to compare yourself to an unattainable ideal. Now we all had to be tall, thin, blonde, pouty-mouthed, and round-eyed with the thigh gap! To deny that the craziness affected me, too, would be a lie. Mostly, I balanced the desire for beauty with the desire for peace and enlightenment.  

The Aging Process

Then, one day around the age of 50, while doing yoga, I looked down at my arms and I was horrified. My formerly strong, firm, shapely arms—arms that I’d once received compliments on—were now those of an “old woman.” More horrifying still was my reaction to this viscerally visible aging. Generally intelligent, generally attractive, relatively sophisticated women are not supposed to freak out over our age. But today, here in the ultra-civilized West, there is nothing that tests your sense of self and your body image like the aging process.

The Phase of Acceptance

I am by no means against trying to remain youthful for as long as you can. I have a style and fashion blog for God’s sake. But youthful is so very different than young. To deny the aging process is to deny death, and, well, that just won’t work. Is it easy to accept the way everything rapidly changes with time? Is it easy to accumulate wrinkles and grey hair? Is it easy to accept saggy breasts and arms? No!

You will, however, have to accept them. We’re not all meant to “live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse” as if we were James Dean. As you live, you age, and there are things you are not going to like about it. Don’t let people tell you that you must mutely accept it all; you don’t have to, just love it as well. Love your body, keep it healthy, strive for inner beauty first, then follow fashion throughout your life.

Writer: Anita Irlen Website: Look For The Woman Twitter: @anitairlen Facebook: Anita Dzirne-Irlen

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check these out: Self-Love Gave Abby More Than She Got From Size 2, CONFIDENCE! Loving Your Body Image, Reflections Of Compassion Versus Body Image In A Traditional Mirror

2 Responses

  1. Risa

    “But youthful is so very different than young.” I love this! My new mantra…


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