"Women over 30 are ugly and dull, no offense." stated a male friend of mine as he explained his preference for younger women. This was not the first time in my life that I have been told I was ugly. I was a truly homely child. In junior high, classmates would actually use my appearance as an "ugly meter" by which they judged the relative ugliness of other people. I was long and lanky. I walked funny (people called me "penguin") and wore thick glasses. Even my mother told me she was glad that I wasn't that attractive because she wouldn't have to worry about me so much.
Around age fifteen, things began to improve in the appearance department. I finally grew into my arms and legs. I got contacts. While not a raving beauty, no one called me ugly anymore. Most importantly, I stopped thinking I was ugly, even when I gave up the contacts and went back to wearing glasses. I made peace with the face and the body that is reflected in the mirror.
We women are awfully harsh in the self-evaluation of our bodies. There is always something to be improved, some flaw to be corrected. Even beautiful movie stars aren't immune to this criticism - just look at how many get plastic surgery or criticize their own appearance in public. There is this obsession with youth, that if you don't look twenty-one, you have ceased to have value to society.
My friend is entitled to his opinion, but I totally disagree that at the age of thirty, or forty, or eighty, for that matter, we stop being beautiful. I think that there is a self-assurance that comes with getting older. My friends and I are all in our thirties and early forties. I think that many of them are more attractive now than when they were younger. Yes, youth has a vitality and a beauty all its own, but a woman gains a special something as she becomes more comfortable in her skin. There is a glow that comes from the inside, a self-confidence that radiates. There is a joy that comes from leaving the awkwardness of adolescence and young adulthood behind and becoming a mature woman. There is a beauty in caring more about what you can bring to the world than in caring about what people think when they look at you.
God gave us these bodies and he made them so that they would age. Accepting that aging is part of the process of living. Yes, I no longer look eighteen. I have laugh lines and a few grey hairs. Motherhood changed my body. Time will continue to change it. When I look in the mirror, I certainly notice the changes, but they don't define me. All women are beautiful, no matter what their age. True beauty comes from the inside and the wisdom and increased capacity to love that comes with age only enhances that.