Beauty is a timeless and elusive concept. Like love, it means something different to almost everyone. Perceptions of beauty are shaped by society, culture and personal preferences.
It’s true that there are shared social definitions of what beauty looks like, but, even these criteria change from decade to decade, and, from place to place. There are even theories about how we are genetically programmed to be attracted to a more symmetrical face or to a specific hair or skin color.
However after centuries of trying, the definition of beauty remains obscure! The perception of beauty after 60 is even more intriguing, because, as women age, the focus shifts from an outer to an inner lens. Women over 60 define their beauty in very specific and fascinating ways, challenging what society traditionally considers beautiful.
So, how does society define a beautiful woman? In 1991, Allure magazine sponsored a “What Does Beauty Mean to You?” survey. The panel of 1000 men and women chose blue-eyed, blonde, Christie Brinkley as their ideal celebrity. Twenty years later, Allure repeated the survey and a polar opposite, Angelina Jolie, was chosen.
The most admired age for women was 28 in 2011 as compared to 31 in the first survey, reinforcing the value society puts on youth. Looking beautiful drives a billion dollar marketing machine and unfortunately the quest to look attractive is often fuelled by very real social benefits. “Beautiful” people for example, tend to get special attention from teachers, the legal system and employers. Studies even show that beautiful people earn more.
For older women, the perception of beauty after 60 is more personal. On a physical level, most do not describe themselves “attractive” in the traditional sense. They offer a different perception of beauty.
When I asked the women of the Sixty and Me community whether they thought they were still beautiful in their 60s, the answers were, as always, authentic, honest and not surprisingly confident! I have paraphrased their answers.
Yes, nature is changing my body and I accept it with grace
What counts is to dress well and with style
Beauty for me is a having a positive attitude
I look through rose tinted glasses, those are best to look through
So much more now because the inside is what really matters!
We just use our own standard of beauty – yes, I am beautiful
I try to be beautiful from the inside smiling often
My beauty is being sensitive to others
Yes I feel beautiful most of the time
Beauty comes from within, a love of life and kindness to others
My heart is bigger, I am wiser and treasure more than my looks.
Yes, My beauty comes from self-confidence
Yes…without my glasses I look beautiful
My husband tells me I am beautiful every day
Yes, I let my grey grow out and it is gorgeous
I am my own beautiful but not Kate Moss’s beautiful
If you stay young inside you will never really be old
My heart and inner self made me pretty
Yes I am beautiful in a spiritual way.
I’ve never cared about beauty. I care more about being happy
We all are beautiful in our own ways
I don’t worry any more – there is nothing uglier than worrying.
I’m still reasonably fit, healthy and happy make me feel ‘beautiful’
Yes, I am still beautiful inside and outside
I still feel beautiful on the inside and outside
What we look like is not important
Pure love and spiritual alignment with our inner self shines
I’ve never been beautiful on the outside, but on the inside I am
I see a new a different kind of beauty every year with me
Perhaps in a different way, I still feel beautiful. Inside and out!
Yes, I think I am beautiful. I have more confidence in myself
Turning 64 soon and I have become invisibly beautiful
If you are beautiful on inside you are beautiful on the outside
Self-confidence completely changed the way I see myself
I believe in the philosophy of trying to be the best I can be
Absolutely. I behold my beauty, by being my best me.
As for me, this quote by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross most accurately describes my own perception of beauty after 60.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
What is your perception of beauty after 60? Please join the conversation.