Repeat After Me, You ARE Beautiful

I had this yoga teacher in the past who in our mirrored room where we saw every bulge, and every imperfection within ourselves in class, encouraged us to tell ourselves in the mirror that we are beautiful.

It is not an easy thing to do. Especially when you want to maintain a perfect look for say, a 30 or 40 year old, but you are squarely in your mid-sixties and you have seen aging taken its toll one way or another.

I mean even thin older women get wrinkly, and can look scary if too thin for their age. I wrote this great past blog on the Huff Post about being reminded by a stranger in a grocery store of my beauty, when I felt harried, and run down, and plug ugly, and I had promised to be kinder to myself.

That only lasts so long.

I am happily married, happily into grandparenting, busy, and content in life. But that nagging and critical inner voice is constantly telling me I am not good enough, not perfect enough, not beautiful enough. Needless to say, I have not been telling myself I am beautiful in the mirror.

I have let that critical voice become a demon, knocking me down and making me feel so imperfect.

Sure, I have a bit of weight around my middle that should not be there if I wanted to be perfect. I have junk in my trunk. I have bulges that I should not have if I maintained the standard of a flat tummy and a perfect body.

I often look at photos of events, and see myself and pick myself apart piece by piece. Why did I stand like that with my hip jutting out, making me look fat. Why didn’t I suck in my stomach? Why didn’t I diet before that wedding so I would look slimmer in the photos? Why are women so hard on themselves, and why do we have such a tough standard of beauty for all women? It is downright cruel. I hope I did not pass this on to my beloved daughter, as I know I grumbled too much about my weight fluctuations while she was growing up, and they say daughters absorb all of that self-loathing that is weight related.

It’s not that I am obese but I am a bit chubby for my own standard and the body type I am used to having through my life. The fact that I haven’t fully thrown in the towel on my body is a miracle considering how much I like food and how much I can eat. (A man’s appetite as my husband always reminds me.) Maybe this is due to genetics but I still look pretty good in clothing and I do not look like the Bubbie I am, or grandmotherly in any way – at least in the way I remember my own beloved grandmothers.

I like to be active and exercise, but I must admit, my comings and goings and energy/fat burning ways were greatly reduced during Covid hibernating. We also ate like hibernating bears.

It is without the clothing where the self-loathing comes in. Sure I can look presentable, and carry off those extra pounds that seem to creep up year after year as I age, but when naked, it is obvious that I am totally imperfect.

Now double-vaccinated for the dreaded Covid-19, I am back at my hot yoga practice. I still wear a medical mask while doing it, for extra safety. The other day, I looked at my body in my yoga bikini in the studio mirrors and looked around the room. There were all ages, shapes and sizes. I am among the slimmer, even as out of shape and a bit overweight as I am in my current state. That’s not counting the 30 year old yoginis who frequent our room.

I stood there and said to myself, “Give yourself a break! You are soon to be 66 years old and look at your legs and your arms – and your body – you look nowhere near your age even in your yoga bikini.” And then I said to myself, silently so no one would think I am weird, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.” It felt affirming. It felt good and I really believed what I said even if it was for that moment in time.

Notice I did not say, “You are perfect.” I cannot achieve the standard of my past at my age, and it is futile to wish for it or expect it.

I am healthy, and I will get fit again, and the slimming that i usually do in the spring and summer will happen as a continuation of the cycle I have been on in every year since menopause – gain in the winter, go back to normal in the Spring and Summer when I do much more exercise.

Why can’t we as women, turn off that critical voice in our heads? Why can’t we replace it with mantras such as suggested by my yoga teacher. It’s not just me, it’s WE. We are beautiful. Every one of us, every shape and size. We are beautiful. We are alive, and we are each uniquely beautiful in our own way.

Repeat after me! I am beautiful! Let’s put an end to the quest for perfection and the I wish I was ten (or insert your number) pounds thinner! Seriously! Enough is enough. We are senior citizens after all. And we look damn good for our age.

Photo with my beautiful daughter, where I had previously chided myself on looking so out of shape below.

6 comments

  • Thanks for the reminder. I totally understand how you feel. I am barely 4’11 and on the petite side, but there’s barely 4 inches between my bra and my underwear. I have no waist anymore and fondly refer to the extra stuff around my middle as flub. I can cover it well and people say – oh you’re so small, but extra pounds and flub have moved around. Women are very critical of themselves because of the standard of beauty that has been promoted for so long. We need to be kinder to ourselves. I hope I can take your advise and my own. My bubbe never worried.

  • Love this !!! Very true!! And you are Beautiful ❤️

  • You’re right Arlene. Life is too short spending it in pursuit of perfection. Just today I was at my grocery’s check out. I glanced down at the electronic invoice and there it was the dreaded senior discount and I didn’t even have to ask. I wasn’t sure how it made me feel but there is a certain amount of pride reaching this age.

  • I understand where you are coming from. Not wearing make up through COVID was great for a little while. But then I couldn’t look at myself. My skin is still good but I now have a double chin that I got from my dear departed dad. That is not something I wanted to get from him but I digress. I started on the treadmill full force during the beginnings of COVID and now I can’t wrap my head about using the treadmill.
    I have not gained any weight, but I need to get back on track and I need to tell myself that I still am fairly pretty. And that age starts to take that away from you. I take my mom to many of her doctors appointments where she lives at Ann’s Choice and I consider the long walks, pushing a wheel chair is a little bit of exercise.
    Can’t we turn the clocks back and be young again…..can’t things be normal again… we just have to accept ourselves as we are…..

  • Helene Zonder

    Love love love. Your writing brings me so much joy Arlene. I too, am going on 66(June) and am beautiful. Like you.

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