The Gift of Growing Old

Vanessa Redgrave photographed by Jillian Edelstein

The other day I was talking with one of my best friends about the "single life" and the topic of "you're not getting any younger" came up. This topic, for many women, is also accompanied by "my looks are going to fade" lamentation. This started me thinking about the fact that many women I know fear growing older. They fear the wrinkles and silver hair. They fear the softening of their frame. They fret about the inevitabilities of time.

I'm not going to try and pretend that I don't have my moments of seeing my youth transform and feeling a twinge about letting it go. Every woman has those moments, but where and when does the line get crossed? Where does the fear come from? This isn't a judgment (by any means) but a genuine question.

Growing older is honestly something I've never been "afraid" of personally. I'm unbelievably grateful that I get to grow older. I spent many hours as a child fearing death. I was petrified that it was going to swallow me before I had a chance to live. I know...kind of heavy for a 6 year old...but what can I's what I came in with. Therefore, I'm thrilled that I get the opportunity to see life building in my eyes. It's something that I never want to hide. I don't want to be a woman who is so pulled and tucked that you have no proof that she has ever smiled, or cried or furrowed her brow. We are human beings. We're meant to show the passing of time. We're meant to collect stories. They live not only in our words but in our faces. I want a face that shows a life well lived.

When did it become a thing to be afraid to grow up? When did it become "not beautiful" to show to share the passing of time?

I admire elegant older women like Vanessa Redgrave who possess that indescribable air of humble confidence and speak with the gentle gaze of knowing eyes. You can see where their eyes have squinted with laughter, where their mouths have been kissed, where the sun has touched their cheeks. You can see...their...stories.

That's what I want. I want a face of stories. That's what I call beautiful.