I sit here feeling somewhat satisfied with myself, as I have just completed my second yoga class in three days. This class was entitled "FLOW" in an 80 degree room. So I'm thinking that this is probably the easiest class they offer. Wrong again. This was much more like the DVDs in my TV cabinet, the "flow" part means that we flow from one pose to another for an hour and 15 minutes straight without stopping. I guess I was deceived by the relative coolness of the 80 degrees. I really liked the class. Afterward, the instructor told me that the best thing to do is to alternate between HOT, WARM and FLOW classes..... ah, yes, the wisdom of yoga.
It's amazing how philosophical you become after sweating profusely while twisting your body into various geometric shapes - in a room with upwards of 10-15 other people, mostly women. I have developed a theory that women over the age of 40 really get the short end of the stick in this country. It is so easy to buy into the idea that physical beauty and youth are what really define us as being "beautiful". For all of us who are "of a certain age", it is much easier to settle for the idea that beauty is something to be referred to in the past tense than to go through the mental gymnastics that would invariably be involved with the dreaded "self-assessment". Perhaps it is that residual Puritanical mindset that forces us to adopt this humble and self-deprecating view of ourselves. I'm as guilty as the next person - I know it. I could produce a list of my physical flaws that would be as long as your leg.
I know for a fact that I see and interact with many women who are my age and older who I have grown to view as beautiful. What I have come to realize is that it is our life experiences and how we allow them to affect us that transform us from one type of beauty into another. For instance, someone may have this or that physical limitation because of..... whatever.... past surgeries, metabolic changes, degenerating this or that. How this person choses to approach her physical limitations and how she allows her life experiences to shape her attitude is what will define her beauty - not the arch of her eyebrow or the firmness of her jawline or the perkiness of her.....(fill in the blank).
The frustrating thing is that these beautiful women have mostly all bought into the conventional wisdom that equates youth with beauty. They are essentially incapable of seeing themselves as even "attractive", let alone "beautiful", just as the anorexic looks in the mirror and sees someone who is fat. There is certainly nothing wrong with admiring the physical beauty of younger women -our daughters and their friends (who, ironically, have their own set of body image issues). But let's not kid ourselves that their beauty and our beauty are one in the same. Perhaps it should be mandatory for all women "of a certain age" to take yoga classes and visit (and participate in) an clothing optional beach. Sometimes you have to come face to face with the notion that everyone is capable of their own full potential, and reaching for that potential is a beautiful thing and is the real definition of beauty.
I've decided that one of my goals in life will not only be to tell these women who are of a certain age that they are beautiful, but to also begin to believe it of myself. It will not be easy to erase 40-plus years of self-depecating, puritanical humility - nor will it be easy when I have Madison Avenue's definition of attractiveness pushed in my face at every turn. But .... only when we ladies all embrace our real worth and really view our whole selves (inside and outside together as one) can the collective mindset of our world be changed.