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Accepting the Face in the Mirror

By Sherry Bronson February 17, 2024 Mindset

I was in my early 50s when I went to South Korea to visit my daughter who was teaching English at Yeugnam University in Taegu. 

We were invited to the home of the head of her department and served soju, a drink guaranteed to make you believe you’re the smartest primate on the planet until you try to stand up. I focused all my concentration on walking a straight line to their car, trying not to embarrass myself or my daughter, and we were whisked away to a famous fish restaurant for dinner.

Blowfish is poisonous. It must be expertly prepared for consumption so as not to prove lethal. We were seated on cushions on the floor in a private room at a table that appeared to be far too large for the four of us until the food started coming. Our honorable host had ordered in advance. We had raw blowfish soup, blowfish tempura, and blowfish sashimi. That aquatic menace was also served to us steamed and deep-fried. But the ultimate test, the one I willed my stomach not to reject, was blowfish skin salad.

Of course, there were side dishes, too many to count, and every morsel on that table was offered to me. I’d done my homework on cultural dos and don’ts and knew better than to decline. Throughout a sleepless night, my stomach gurgled and churned but I survived. The next day we were scheduled for lunch with one of the students my daughter tutored.

The Importance of Appearance

The girl’s mother was 39 and stunning. Her skin had the flawless perfection of an airbrushed photograph. We were barely seated in the restaurant when she began a conversation about the importance of appearance. I was shocked to learn that she had already had multiple cosmetic surgeries. She turned to me and frowned. “You should, too,” she said.

I may have stammered a response, but my internal dialogue was far more memorable. Who? Me? People are surprised when I tell them my age. They think I’m ten years younger. I like the crinkles around my eyes and the laugh lines. Cosmetic surgery? Really? Never!

I have no clue what we had for lunch.

The Face Is What the World Sees and Judges

We learn early on how to smile at the appropriate times, regulate the emotions that want to contort our features, apply enhancements to accentuate the positive whether it be mascara to showcase exotic eyes, or lipstick. 

As years passed, I didn’t give that episode much thought other than a story now and then to entertain friends. 

But now, when I look in the mirror, the person who stares back is almost a stranger to me. After 60, changes happen fast. The body can be dressed, disguised, and hidden. But there seems to be no way to mentally prepare for the way time morphs a face. 

In the remote farming community where I’ve come to retire, I’m surrounded by an elderly population. Creased and leathery from hard work in all kinds of weather, any exposed skin wears age like a badge of honor. No one would dream of going under the knife to chase youth. But what if I worked in a metropolitan area? What if I still had my interior design studio and high-profile clients? How tempted would I be to erase the ravages of time as much as possible? 

Changes Are Inevitable and Accepting Them Is Freeing

I admire women who are still going strong in the workplace well into their 60s and 70s. Whatever they decide to do to retain their power and vitality in a social system where youth is deified, is a decision only they can make. I can’t say for certain what I would do if I were competing with women half my age for a position in the job market.

But, at some point, isn’t it time to relax, take off the mask, and embody who we have become? I’ve found immense freedom in being exactly who I am, saying what I mean, and doing what I want without worrying about what all that looks like. I’ve come to terms with the unglamorous transformations happening to my body, and I’ve (somewhat grudgingly) accepted the time-worn face in my mirror

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Have you come to accept the wrinkles and lines? Or have you decided to go the plastic surgery route? Is there wisdom in either choice?

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For about seventeen years I had lived a solitary life as a woman in my 60s. After the death of a close friend I felt empty so I took a part-time job to stay busy and I enjoyed the job thoroughly. In the course of my work I met a man in his late 40s and we became friends. We remained friends for a year and a half. Then I began to tell he was taking an interest in me in a more romantic way and it scared the Hell out of me, so i put up my guard. I was perplexed over what he saw in this “old” woman. It certainly it was not because of my vast wealth. As I continued to deflect his overtures of interest, I would go home and look in the mirror and ask myself what could he possibly be attracted to? I finally gave in and I went to dinner with him. A year later we are still seeing each other and what he told me was he saw a beautiful woman with charisma in the way she interacted with others and that she had a sense of humor and knew how to laugh. We continue to have a great relationship and we continue to be very compatible. So I guess my point is, don’t become overly obsessed with the face in the mirror. Yes, absolutely take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and do what you can to be the best you can be for yourself.

Sherry Bronson

It is hard to accept the fact that we could still be desirable to the opposite sex with gray hair and wrinkles in a society that glorifies youth. Your experience is encouraging, and even though it ‘scared the Hell out of you’ at first, you finally allowed yourself to trust. That’s huge… and wonderful!

Vanessa Day

I have to say that I found that women who have always been pretty really want to keep that look as they get older. It seems to be a major part of whom they are. They always have been given extra attention because of their looks and it’s hard to let go of that. .Women who never have been thought of as terribly attractive seem to age better and not worry so much about how they are looking now.

Sherry Bronson

I remember when Marilyn Monroe died. The story was that she was terrified of losing her looks, terrified of aging, and took her own life. It is very true that a pleasing appearance opens doors, and facing a future where one can no longer play that card can be a tough adjustment. Thank you for your insights.

Jeanne Drayer

That could be why at age 57 I am struggling immensely with the changes aging makes to my face and body. It is very depressing for me.

Sherry Bronson

You aren’t alone in that struggle, Jeanne. We all know it’s coming. We’ve seen family members grow old. But somehow we aren’t prepared when it begins happening to us. It’s time to focus on a healthy mind, body, and spirit. It’s the best gift you can give yourself. Then, as time goes by, become healthier, stronger, and more intentional than you’ve ever been in your life.

Madeline Kinnear Hebert

What kind of changes are you getting depressed about?

Felicia G

After 60 is a daily roller coaster ride of emotions when I look in the mirror which I try not to do. As a bonus I’ve had spinal surgeries, knee replacement and spinal stenosis. Having to use an upright walker fits right in with the stereotypical look of a senior.. The admiring glances of yesteryear are gone. I feel invisible. But my faith keeps me going as I fight these “feelings”. Do what you can is the theme of our Women’s Dept at church. I will reclaim my fashion sense, hold up my head. And be the best me I can I won’t compare myself to others


I relate to the “feeling invisible” comment you made. I feel like I have lost it. That feeling of
being healthy, strong, attractive, sexy, and accomplished in one package. When the pandemic hit I went from running my own company in heels to yoga pants and riding out the courts being closed for close to 2 years. I feel like I have not yet passed this phase. I too started going out without looking “perfect”. But I feel a sadness that our American culture sees women of a certain age as nonexistent. Yet grey-haired men are mature and sexy. It sucks. The changes we are going through in this country seem to make everything “less than”. I never thought I would look, feel, and mourn what used to be. I work hard to stay present and say it does not matter.

Sherry Bronson

Living in the present, being grateful for each day we wake up alive, is so important. But what is going on in this country and in the world, does matter. Having this Sixty and Me sisterhood where we can call out what’s broken and support each other, is one way of doing our part. Thank you for speaking up.


I think it’s a global phenomenon? That women over 50 (?) become invisible. I was trying to tell someone this – she had just turned 49 and she couldn’t relate. Give her time – lol

Madeline Kinnear Hebert

I think feeling invisible starts with the language we tell ourselves. Why do you feel invisible and who is making you feel that way?

Sherry Bronson

“The admiring glances of yesteryear…” I was thinking about that today and feeling grateful that I no longer care. I think Do What You Can is a great theme. And good for you for being the best of who you are – no comparisons.

Madeline Kinnear Hebert

Yes faith is so important as well as our mindset. What we focus on…what we put in our minds is equally important as what we put in our bodies and on our skin.

Renee Lovitz

I like the way my face looks. Not doing plastic surgery of any kind. I have a lipoma in my neck and I am not doing anything about that either.
I am me!! If you don’t like it, don’t look!!

Leni Garfunkel

I love your last comment Renee.

Sherry Bronson

Thank you for your comments, Renee. I had to look up lipoma. It sounds as though you have accepted yourself as you are and can take what comes. Good for you!.


I might rather say, if you don’t like it, look deeper and you might see something you do like.


I was very lucky to be able to retire at 62. I colored my hair once after that then decided to let it go and not fight the grays. I moisturize but rarely wear makeup. It is very freeing to not worry about what my peers in the workplace think LOL.

Sherry Bronson

Retirement was the best thing that ever happened to me! It sounds like it suits you, too.


Me too! But I ask you, Sherry, how do you live an authentic life when you have a disabled husband who needs help daily. I am no martyr, but I don’t feel free to explore possibilities.

Sherry Bronson

Many partnered women face that scenario at some point. Or they find themselves caring for an elderly parent. How does one live an authentic life in those situations? The answer is different for everyone. What does an authentic life look like for you, Trace? And how can you give yourself a little bit more of that right now? It’s important to find ways of giving to yourself or resentment will take over.

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The Author

Sherry Bronson is a writer and traveler. After downsizing, she spent ten thrilling years in Bali, then a year exploring Mexico. Now, she's in northern Minnesota rehabbing a derelict hunting cabin on the family farm. On her blog, Sherry encourages readers to fearlessly and fully live their own authentic lives.

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