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Why Are Women Over 50 Still Insecure About How They Look?

By Andrea Pflaumer November 22, 2023 Beauty

Some years ago, I decided to interview women over 50, 60, 70 and 80 for a video series about the importance of staying visible as we age.

It was the most challenging project I had ever done. For one thing, becoming visible – on camera – myself (at nearly 70) in the era of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube takes an act of faith. “Looks” shaming and instant judgement have sunk many an aspiring internet entrepreneur.

I did cold-calls to reach many of the women who would be my guests, none of whom knew me from Adam. My task was to convince them that being interviewed would be to their professional advantage.

Many of these women were well-known and already very successful in their respective fields. That in itself was fairly intimidating. The process required that I muster up a lot of enthusiasm before each call. It was exhausting. I contacted nearly 90 people, 27 agreed to participate.

Insights Gained from Interviews

Before every interview I spent a good half hour in front of the mirror tweaking my makeup, hair and clothing. All these carry a boatload of “hot buttons” for many women. But since I write about fashion and was about to go on video the stakes were doubled.

My other prep work was easy, though. I have a lot of fundamental curiosity about people and am sincerely fascinated with how they have ended up where they are. And, just about everybody in the public eye loves to tell the story of their life.

All the women who said yes were absolutely lovely. I learned a great deal about myself and about women in general from this experience. First of all, regardless of how prepared I was and how kind my guests were, I sweated through (literally) every silk blouse I wore for each interview, in spite of how calm and engaged I thought I was or appeared to be. (I made my cleaners very happy that month.)

I also discovered that every woman I spoke with, when letting her guard down even a little, was as insecure about how she looked, what she said and how she would be perceived as I was. Fragility was the norm. It was a fact that flies in the face of how much strength we can summon when it’s required.

Women have raised children to adulthood, sometimes on their own. They have pushed through barriers to stand on assembly lines and boardrooms. Women have risked their livelihood to call out men for overt or subtle sexist acts. But simply showing up, on a screen, to faceless thousands of other women can shake them to their core.

Reflections on Insecurity and Compassion

I’ve been thinking a lot about why women have this insecurity about their appearance and what we can do about it. On one hand, how we look and what people think about how we look shouldn’t matter. Most people are more concerned with the impression they are making on you than the one you are making on them.

On the other hand, since first impressions are formed within the first seven seconds of being introduced, we care about how we look if we want that impression to be a good one. But there has to be some balance. And there has to be courage to just be.

I think the balance comes when we find compassion and love for ourselves. Self-care and self-love must be the basis of self-esteem. I know that when I meet people who are grounded in themselves and who “own” their body and face, regardless of age, I feel comfortable around them. And I feel comfortable about being myself around them.

But facing the faceless camera… that’s another story. The good news is that, with the exception of the genetically gifted, most of us are pretty ordinary in the looks department. Some of the most popular video “stars” are ordinary people who are just supremely natural in their ordinariness on camera. The blogosphere loves them.

So maybe it’s time to love ourselves, as we are, in all our ordinary glory, whether or not we become the next viral sensation.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How do you think the age of social media has changed the way women look at themselves? Why do cameras seem so intimidating in this day and age? What steps have you taken to bring balance to your life and boost your self-esteem? Please share your thoughts with the community.

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Laura J Urrutia

First of all, I’m hearing impaired, and I’m 65 years old, with barely gray hair (I’m lucky). I haven’t dating men for 20 years, I was about to gave up with my lifestyle until….I met a man who is 60 years old, has gray hair, and is so handsome. We do not have sex yet…Why do I feel uncertain, insecure, and unsure about my future? I’m scared and worried about how I look, act, and speak. We have conversations on the chat, which is very good. He is not materialistic, honest, and very straightforward. Why am I getting scared?

Andrea Pflaumer

Hello Laura, this is very understandable. Being away from the “market” so long can certainly put a dent in one’s confidence. And any interaction with someone new, even just a friend, can require time and patience. I am hearing impaired too. And I know how that adds a layer of insecurity. I’d just say take it slow and enjoy the process of discovery. And it’s good to be cautious and safe – both for your emotional well being and your health. Good luck!!


Excellent advice. One thing that kept me looking at my attitude was my granddaughters. I want them to look at me and see I’m still relevant even though I’m 70 years old. I blog, wrote a devotional for dementia caregivers, walk in nature with my dog, stay connected to others, and have a new and caring man in my life. I still fix my hair and wear make-up and nice jeans because I live in a rural community. My granddaughters have seen my grief when my husband died, my loneliness when caregiving and my career ended, and my responses to financial setbacks and the death of friends. I hope when they remember me when I’m no longer here is they matter, they’re still lovely and have gifts to share.

I guess it means purpose. Purpose with love.

Andrea Pflaumer

Thanks for commenting Barbara. This is lovely. And you are beautifully modeling aging for your granddaughters. I am 75 and I try to do the same for my younger relatives.


Right or wrong, all are judged on their personal appearance. Why make ageism worse by dressing poorly and not paying attention to hair etc. In the end, I am the one who matters when it coms to thinking about how good I look. Also in the end, an 80 something body is not very attractive to me or anyone else no matter how well I have cared for it. It’s just a fact that no amount of self acceptance or so called “aging gracefully” etc can erase. I think we need to be reality based before we can actually deal with things and make any changes we care to make.

Andrea Pflaumer

Thanks Annie. You’ve brought up some very important points. Reality is important…but it’s also relative. I love the meme I saw recently, “I used to be young and beautiful…now I’m just beautiful.” I personally think everyone is beautiful at every age. But yes, I’m not going to be wearing a bikini, especially not now at the age of 75!!! HA! Thanks for writing. Andrea

Lee Ann Phinney

I think social media has made self consciousness much worse, not better! When the ads continually pop up for makeup and skincare to make me look more youthful, and endless diet programs, I am constantly reminded of how I really look at 66. And…it does not make me happy. No matter what I’m told about self awareness and self love, I just continue to compare myself to others.🥲

Andrea Pflaumer

Hello LeeAnn, I think comparison – not just about our appearance-is the death of growth and a sure motivation killer. That comparison can come from the outside (how others look, what they have achieved or have) or from inside us (I was attractive before but not now.) It’s easy to just give up and continue on a mental and emotional downward spiral. But it’s a disrespectful of life’s gifts and blessings. What we perceive as negatives are always life’s ways of pushing us to grow – beyond our limited beliefs, habits, judgements, ways of relating, self-talk, etc. Looking at life from the age of 75 now, I want to tell you that there are wondrous, beautiful, interesting adventures ahead for you as long as you are willing to make the effort to see yourself in a new way. But that new way must be from the inside out. There just has to be a change in your perspective about yourself and your future. And your new version of yourself and your physical attractiveness will emerge from that. I see it again and again with my clients and readers. God bless you and wishing you happiness.


I think you can have self love and self awareness and be reality based about your appearance at the same time. Otherwise, you are loving something that doesn’t relly exist. Maybe the two are not even connected.

The Author

Andrea Pflaumer is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, Shopping for the Real You, and an e-book, She’s Got Good Jeans. She has been a regular contributor to Sixty and Me for more than five years and blogs from her home in the San Francisco Bay area. Her most popular online course is Discovering Your Inner Style: an Adventure in Dressing Authentically.

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