Glow Up, Already
A Cleansing Look at Being Beautiful in My 40s
“It’s like a soul douche!” — Mickey, from Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar.
I did a brave thing and I shouldn’t have waited so long to do it. On the other hand, the opportunity — nay, confidence? chutzpa? — never presented itself in a way that I could appreciate. Not until I stared down the approaching killer bee of my mid-forties and realized, This is who I am. How I am. And I’m not going to change any more dramatically than I already have.
I “surprised” my husband with a boudoir photoshoot for Christmas. And while he was certainly stoked and clearly grateful, he sees me as beautiful every day and in
every most ways. (I sometimes wear the robe of truth a few too many days in a row.) If we’re being honest here (and we are, because I’m 43, and honesty is the name of the goshdang game), this photoshoot was an opportunity for *me* to feel glorious, seen, and amazing, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. For days afterward (and even still), I was able to see myself in a whole new light. I saw myself as beautiful. I let myself be beautiful.
I spent the majority of my high school and college years in the roll of the Fat Funny Friend (the new song by the endearing Maddie Zahm is a must-listen), and while I maintain deep and enduring relationships with many of those people, I am all-too familiar with the shameful ache of existing as jolly relief for my gorgeous friends. As the perpetual companion who lets everyone feel better about themselves.
There is a certain authenticity that has bloomed from me in my forties. My forties have been my “wake-up” (and, seriously, “glow-up”) years. I have no time, space, or resources for the people who zap my precious energy. I do have cause to appreciate the love and opportunities that I do have. I embrace the boundaries that I’ve been fortunate enough to set. I’m a boundary setting, self appreciating, soul honoring, deeply caring, wholly committed, present and appreciated being.
I’ve done that. I’ve manifested it. And at the risk of igniting a collective societal gasp, I remain humble. I remain grounded. It’s an entirely new mindset — one that allows me to still give of myself and listen to others. But, I’m doing it from a body I appreciate and with time that I protect with ferocity.
A woman declaring her own beauty is an enormous societal no-no (as is so painfully highlighted by Aubrey Hirsch in her piece on receiving harassment as a woman on the internet.) When we declare the objective truth of our own good looks, our own accomplishments, our own WORTH, there is a sanctioned side-eye of judgement. We are to be demure! We are to be appreciated from the OUTSIDE ONLY!
And if we unabashedly embrace our wonderfulness, we are too-often touted as: selfish. egotistical. full of ourselves. shameful. shallow. fake. insecure.
I’m here to join the voices of the beautiful people who say “I am pretty fantastic,” own it, and carry on. Carry on being fabulous.
Think of the most amazing person you know. Have you told them how you feel about them? How did it make them feel? It probably confirmed a lot of their reasons for being.
Did you automatically think of yourself at that prompt? Probably not. So, take a second right now to silently hold gratitude for something YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF. Maybe it’s physical! (My legs!) Maybe it has to do with your personality (I’m very giving!) Maybe it’s one of your many talents (we both know you have talents).
As I write this, I have Andy Grammar’s excellent song “Love Myself” on repeat.
I want to be someone who’s not swayed by opinions
Be me authentically, without the apologies
And want my heart to soar without being insecure
And point out what’s wrong with me ’cause sometimes subconsciously
I can be mean in my mind
Beat myself up all the time with awful thoughts and
I can eat myself alive
I’m gonna try
It’s gonna be an awkward talk, but
I love you, I don’t say it enough
I love who you are, who you’ve become
Don’t know why I cannot hear it
Unless it comes from someone else
But I’ma find a way to finally feel it
When I say it to myself
Sis, I know that embracing all that you are is not something that comes naturally. I know that boudoir shoots with a photographer who can primp and pose you is not something that’s accessible for everyone.
What I *also* know is that gratitude is the foundation for optimism. It’s the foundation for acceptance. Then admiration. Then adoration. Of yourself. So start small with gratitude for that one, silent thing each day. You can write it down, or you can tuck it away. You can whisper to yourself in the mirror, or you can let your pillow catch the tears as you struggle to find it. Let yourself explore what feels good. And be thankful for it.
Gratitude is the foundation for optimism. — Me :)
On a final note, if you (tragically) haven’t watched the best movie of 2021, Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, do yourself a favor and watch it tonight. Wear something that makes you feel comfortably awesome as you do.
It’s like a soul douche.