So, I’m getting slightly annoyed with all these grey hairs popping up on my head!! But I find myself even MORE annoyed as I look to “society” and see the completely unfair differences in the message given to women vs. men on this particular topic. Men going gray is considered sexy, distinguished and even mysterious at times- adding to their “rugged” appeal. For women, going gray equals old, expired, rough and ragged. Not to mention, we have also been taught that biologically gray hair sends a subconscious message to the brain of the opposite sex that we are barren and past our “prime” so again, NOT ATTRACTIVE. Why is this? And why does society as a whole accept this way of thinking?? I understand the biology behind this, however, we are no longer functioning solely on our most primal instincts as a human race- so I say screw science. (For the sake of this post at least😊)
I want to focus more on the societal pressures that are on us as women. Pressures that continue to foster deep rooted insecurities, often times resulting in something we battle with our entire lives. We are given messages EVERYWHERE in media that to be attractive=success, making attractiveness a required priority. Why are WE expected to always look as if we haven’t aged past our 20’s? That is both unrealistic and unfair. So, where am I going with this? Well, I want to explore a little, mostly for myself and the insecurities that this topic brings up in me, the alternative to this line of thinking. What if society found the signs of aging as a true symbol of beauty? Something to envy, long for and to even STRIVE for?
Think about it, what truly makes a woman beautiful? It’s not what she can add to her outer appearance, it’s the inner traits that she possesses, leaving those around her drawn in by her confidence and by the things that make up her INNER beauty. A lot of those traits come with life experience, with wisdom, with trials and with AGE. Think honestly for a moment and answer this question, what is more attractive to you? 1. The 40 year old woman who has become obsessed with her outward beauty, so much so that everything in her life is a direct product of the desire she has to keep up appearances, ultimately making all her interactions and relationships superficial? OR 2. The 40 year old woman who is healthy, but has gray hairs and wrinkles, some cellulite and stretch marks, but is also confident in who she is society to define the word “beauty” in her mind-all of this resulting in engaged and sincere relationships? I know for me I’m picking number 2 ALL DAY LONG!! The second person described makes you laugh, she is genuine, and while she may also be “attractive” even by societies standards, that is not what you take away, it’s not what draws you in. You are drawn in because her focus is on loving and caring for the people around her, and not a desire to attain a level of outward appeal that will make her the source of envy for those around her.
So, if most people would agree that the second example is better why do we almost always find ourselves longing for option number 1? While trying to answer this question for myself, I started thinking back on when I first felt any outside pressure to look a certain way, or present myself in a way that would be accepted as “pretty.” The sad truth is my answer to this- I can go all the way back to first grade! I was able to recall being involved in a school play. The little boy playing the main part informed me that he did not want me to play the other lead, making sure I knew the other girl up for the same part was “prettier” than I was, and would therefor be a better fit. HOW DO I STILL REMEMBER THIS?? It seems so ridiculous looking back at this and other moments I was able to remember, especially as an adult woman. However, silly as the events themselves might be, clearly these things effected me. What’s even scarier, looking back at this as a Mom, is thinking and trying to figure out how do I break this cycle for my girls?? How do I keep my daughters from believing and internalizing a standard that is completely unrealistic and will just set them up to feel inadequate?
The obvious answer is what I’m sure most of us already do as parents and mentors. We tell them, as often as possible, that they are beautiful INSIDE. We flood them with affirmations putting an emphasis on their character, on the things that matter and not on outward appearances. We teach them to love others and to care for and respect the people around them. Most importantly, for those of us who are believers, we teach them to find their worth and value as a child of Christ and to view themselves as He sees them. That is the ultimate form of self-love and self-acceptance.
Well, not to minimize those things by any means, and not to turn this into a “guilt-trippy” post, but I think one way that get’s overlooked when attempting to change this narrative, is for us as
women and Mothers to live out the REAL truth in our own lives. Mothers, grandmothers, friends, sisters, we fulfill so many different roles, all of which are important but what kind of message would it send to the next generation if we never again worried about “looking pretty” and instead were able to put all of that focus on nurturing the inner things that are of real substance. Now, I will be the first to say, while this is my desire I KNOW I will fail at this. Insecurities are such a HUGE part of my story and my past there is not going to be a button that turns this off for me, though I wish there was! One baby step I have chosen to take personally, (and it FREAKS me out writing this here because now there will actually be accountability for this decision), is to NOT DYE MY HAIR. This conviction- (for ME everyone is different-this is NOT a post telling women not to dye their hair!) it came when I started to notice the grey hairs and at first, began touching up the roots. Well, my son Nathan asked me one day why I was doing it, to which I replied “because I want to.” This is the same reply I would give for wearing makeup or shaving my legs (which I’m NOT stopping) No biggie, I didn’t think anything of it until a few minutes later he replied “But Momma, if your husband likes it that way, why are you jumping on the bandwagon and conforming?” Literally his exact words. Well, THAT was a total punch in the gut… I had no good answer, launching my internal struggle with the question “Why AM I conforming to the world’s standard of beauty?” -To dye, or not to dye…SO as a result of this personal dialogue, my frustrations with the message society gives us AND my desire to change that for my daughters, I’m EMBRACING THE NATURAL! Again, I’m not going TOTALLY natural I still plan on shaving, but for me this was something I needed to do.
So, I’m posting this today as a source of accountability, but I also want to encourage and challenge you to find a way to actively change that narrative in your own life and in the lives of future generations- whatever that looks like for you! I would love to hear from you. Comment below. If insecurities are something you have or you do struggle with, I’m adding this verse that has encouraged me these last couple of months❤
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18