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  • Betty Girardeau

Fading Beauty

Beauty isn't just for the young. Special beauty occurs as things age, sometimes surpassing or, at least, equaling that of earlier days. I can remember knowing women who, as they aged, attained a special beauty that surpassed just their looks. There is a serenity about them that makes all with whom they come into contact feel good. Some of them had had difficult lives, but rather than breaking them, something inexplicably special has been added to their characters, an inner beauty that they share with those around them. However, sadly Americans typically have an obsession with youth. We seem to revere older women who still look like they did in their twenties or thirties, usually thanks to the help of surgeries, injections, and hair dyes. We seem to fear growing old, rather than embracing it. But that is not true of other societies in the world. Older women in TV and movies in Europe are more often portrayed as "beautifully flawed," women who are comfortable in their skin, beautiful and desirable. Karen de Crow has written "If there is anything behind a face, that face improves with age. Lines show distinction and character: they show that one has lived, that one may know something." I own several pieces of antique furniture. They stand out in a room that is otherwise filled with newer pieces because of their patina, the new wood color has been muted by age and their finish has become like satin. Genuine patina cannot be faked because it is the result of aging. In furniture it is considered highly desirable. I would suggest that we need to learn to appreciate aging and the patina that is added to us outwardly and inwardly by this process. If we need to be reminded of this, look at today's image. I think these hydrangea blooms are actually more beautiful right now than they were as young flowers. Along with their obvious signs of age and having lived through storms, weather, and insect damage, they have a golden quality that draws attention and appreciation far beyond what had been the case when they were young.

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