A discussion of the article, “One Woman Discovered the Fountain of Youth — And It’s Closer to Home than She’d Thought” by Leslie Garret (Redbook Magazine, May 2016)
In just a few hundred words, Leslie Garret writes an article that wonderfully captures a profound truth about women and how we feel about getting older: that despite the fact that “our culture doesn’t encourage us to see beauty in aging faces, programmed as we are to speak of beauty and youth in a single breath;” real women come to realize that we grow more beautiful with each passing year, not less.
Garret argues that as the years pass and the list of things our bodies have helped us accomplished grows — running marathons, climbing mountains, birthing babies, weathering grief — our pride in our bodies and ourselves grows. We come to learn that beauty only rarely has to do with our looks, but far more often has to do with our strength, our kindness, our generosity, and our humor.
Reading this article, I was reminded of a quote by Laura Stavoe I found years ago, when I had just started to work with pregnant women. The quote reads, “there is a secret in our culture, it’s not that birthing is hard. It is that women are strong.”* Leslie Garret’s article reminds me that our culture has another secret: a woman’s beauty is not in constant decline as she ages, women do not grow more and more unhappy with themselves as they get older. The real truth is the older we get, the more we come to appreciate our bodies and the more we see just how beautiful and amazing they are. We get to leave behind the insecurities of youth and accept that our uniqueness is an asset, not a liability. We learn to listen to the people in our lives when they compliment us and begin to let their positive messages sink in and become the truth. After all, what mom has not had her small children tell her — with absolute sincerity and love — that she is the most beautiful woman in the world?
As Leslie Garret says, beautiful is not something we are, “beautiful is something we become.”
*I feel that I must qualify that this quote is was never meant to suggest that only mothers who birth naturally are strong; rather than the birthing process for all women demands strength and courage that is seldom discussed in popular culture. Read the author’s explanation of the quote in context here: https://birthtraumatruths.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/laura-stavoe-speaks-why-she-wrote-there-is-a-secret-in-our-culture-but-it-is-not-that-women-are-strong/ of